Bulletin: AL2020002

Date:
April 03, 2020
To:
All Alabama Issuing Offices
RE:
UNDERWRITING - Fifth Supplemental Proclamation by the Governor - Audiovisual Notarizations

Dear Associates:

Please note that remote notarization and Remote Online Notarization are different processes with different requirements. 

On April 2, 2020, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey issued her Fifth Supplemental Proclamation (hereinafter “Proclamation”); a copy of which is attached, pursuant to the Alabama Emergency Management Act of 1955 which gives the Governor very broad powers. In the Proclamation, the Governor modified certain parts of her Fourth Supplemental Proclamation, including that portion of the Forth that modified Alabama’s Notary Law by allowing the assistance of audio-visual technology to facilitate the social distancing necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Pursuant to Section III of the Proclamation:

A. Notaries appointed in Alabama may notarize signatures through videoconferencing programs as though they are physically present at the signing, provided that the notary maintains a recording of the audiovisual communication and enters the notarial act by videoconferencing in the notary’s logbook.

B. The date and time of the notarization shall be the date and time when the notary witnesses the signature via videoconference technology. All documents must be returned to the notary for certification and execution.

C. The effective date of Section III is April 3, 2020.

D. All notarizations performed under Section III of the Fourth Supplemental Proclamation dated March 26, 2020, are valid.

Stewart is committed to our partners and providing solutions to allow agents and Stewart Issuing Offices to continue closing and insuring transactions. Given the uncertainty of how COVID-19 may impact real estate transactions, and in the interest of providing our Issuing Offices the tools necessary to provide service to their customers, we are implementing the following procedures, outlined below, which are EFFECTIVE for the duration of the public health emergency (unless extended or otherwise modified).

I. TECHNOLOGY

Stewart agents may use assistive audio-video technologies to facilitate the Notarial act.

To facilitate the use of the audio-visual notary feature, set forth in the attached Proclomation, the Stewart approved technology platforms and tutorials can be found at:

https://www.stewart.com/content/stewart/stewartcom/en/eclosing/customer-type/title-agency-info.html?refurl=%2Fcontent%2Fstewart%2Fstewartcom%2Fen%2Fcustomer-type%2Ftitle-insurance-underwriting-services%2Feducation-and-training%2Feclosing%2Foverview.htm l

In the event you do not use an approved Platform, the audio-visual technology must:

  1. Provide for the audio/video preservation of the entire notarial transaction, which should be retained for a period of seven (7) years;
  2. Provide for secure storage and transmission of the Non-public personal information; and,
  3. Provide for verification of location of signer (Principal must be in AL).

Suggestions for Audio/Video Conferencing Technology:

The Proclamation does not identify technology which would satisfy the audio/visual requirements of the Emergency Rules and care should be taken that any platform chosen adequately provides for the ability to record the live session and that both the Signer and the Notary have devices which support the chosen platform. As a convenience to our agents and to aid your search in locating a service provider, we’ve listed some providers which offer audio/video conferencing and the ability to record such conference.

Microsoft Teams: https://support.office.com/en-us/article/record-a-meeting-in-teams-34dfbe7f-b07d-4a27-b4c6-de62f1348c24

GoToMeeting: https://www.gotomeeting.com/features/online-meeting-recording

Cisco Webex: 

https://help.webex.com/en-us/nzpa89j/Manage-Cisco-Webex-Meetings-Recordings

II. CONDITIONS FOR THE NOTARIAL PROCESS

  1. Notary must be an Alabama appointed Notary Public.
  2. Notary and signer via technology platform have face to face interactive (live) exchange of communication.
  3. If the technology does not provide for verification of location, the Notary must verify that the person or persons signing the documents are located within Alabama.
  4. Notary must verify ID via a video comparison of ID to signer’s face.
  5. Signer then signs on camera for Notary to witness.
  6. Signer then sends, contemporaneously with execution via email or fax, the signed signature page and copy of ID to Notary.
  7. Notary applies notarial seal to received execution page.
  8. Signer then sends the wet-signature page to Notary to re-apply notarial seal to maintain wet signature in the file or for counties requiring a wet signature for recording.
  9. If the Notary is not a member of the agent’s staff, then the Notary must send both non-wet signature with notarial stamp and wet signature with a notarial stamp to the agent within 24 hours along with the ID and video of the notarial transaction.
  10. Agent who is responsible for recording receives the original document, and ID and attaches signature page with a notarial seal to original document.
  11. The transaction involves a cash sale/purchase; purchase money transaction with financing; or a transaction involving a refinance, either with or without cash-out. In other transactions, please obtain Stewart Underwriter approval.
  12. The Notary must maintain a notary logbook in which the notarial act by audiovisual means is entered.

III. ADDITIONAL UNDERWRITING REQUIREMENTS:

  1. Parties, including lender, must authorize in writing the use of the video notary process.
  2. The agent must verify that the Probate Judge’s Office will accept the Notary performed in this process.
  3. No change is allowed to the acknowledgment forms outlined in Code of Alabama (1975) Section 35-4-29.
  4. If the technology platform is not listed on the above link, a Stewart Underwriter must approve the technology vendor. Please contact the local Stewart Underwriter for approval.
  5. The approval of the Audio-visual feature is limited to policy amount up to $1,000,000. Real Estate transactions in excess of $1,000,000 will be considered, however Issuing Offices shall obtain Stewart Underwriter approval.
  6. The notary must sign a certificate of compliance on a form provided by Stewart.

Please note we have a dedicated site on VU for all things COVID-19 related available: https://www.vuwriter.com/en/coronavirus-resources.html.

If you have any questions relating to this or other bulletins, please contact the Alabama State Office for assistance.

For on-line viewing of this and other bulletins, please log onto www.vuwriter.com.

THIS BULLETIN IS FURNISHED TO INFORM YOU OF CURRENT DEVELOPMENTS. AS A REMINDER, YOU ARE CHARGED WITH KNOWLEDGE OF THE CONTENT ON VIRTUAL UNDERWRITER  AS IT EXISTS FROM TIME TO TIME AS IT APPLIES TO YOU, AS WELL AS ANY OTHER INSTRUCTIONS. OUR UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS DO NOT AUTHORIZE OUR ISSUING AGENTS TO ENGAGE IN SETTLEMENTS OR CLOSINGS ON BEHALF OF STEWART TITLE GUARANTY COMPANY. THIS BULLETIN IS NOT INTENDED TO DIRECT YOUR ESCROW OR SETTLEMENT PRACTICES OR TO CHANGE PROVISIONS OF APPLICABLE UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS. CONFIDENTIAL, PROPRIETARY, OR NONPUBLIC PERSONAL INFORMATION SHOULD NEVER BE SHARED OR DISSEMINATED EXCEPT AS ALLOWED BY LAW. IF APPLICABLE STATE LAW OR REGULATION IMPOSES ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS, YOU SHOULD CONTINUE TO COMPLY WITH THOSE REQUIREMENTS.

References

Bulletins Replaced:
None
Related Bulletins:
SLS2020003 UNDERWRITING - Remote Online Notarization
 
SLS2020004 UNDERWRITING - Remote Online Notarization
Underwriting Manual:
None
Exceptions Manual:
None
Forms:
None