As the sunset date approaches for remote notarizations under the temporary emergency authorization, it is now apparent that the legislature will not agree on a bill authorizing a further extension before the expiration. Therefore, we will revert to the notarial requirement of “close physical proximity” on March 1, 2021 at 12:01 a.m.
Folks in the know believe that there is legislative support for either an extension of the emergency statute or its permanent authorization and codification. However, other non-related budget aspects of the bill are causing a delay (insert your cynical political comment here). Additionally, it is speculated that when an agreement is reached, it could contain retroactive application to the time period in which the emergency authorization was not in effect, but it would be unwise for practitioners to rely on this possibility.
Without authorization of remote notarizations, remote signings for estate planning documents will also become unavailable. In my practice, I have made sparse use of the emergency authorization and continue to do in-person document signings following CDC guidelines and requiring the same from all participants. As I indicated in a prior blog, it is my hope that the North Carolina legislature will make a permanent authorization and codification of remote witnessing and notarization so practitioners have greater incentive to learn and become comfortable with the long-term use of remote document signings.
In the meantime, I would encourage clients not to delay needed updates to their estate plan or first time estate planning goals. By strict and consistent adherence to the ever-evolving CDC guidelines, our firm has continued to assist clients with their estate planning goals and conduct in-person estate planning document signing ceremonies safely and effectively during the pandemic.
To speak with an estate planning attorney at our firm, please call our office.