Bulletin: AR2020001

Date:
April 02, 2020
To:
All Arkansas Issuing Offices
RE:
UNDERWRITING - Executive Order numbered EO20-12 – Authorizing Remote Notarial Acts

Dear Associates:

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Governor of Arkansas has issued Executive Order numbered EO20-12 (hereinafter “Executive Order”), amending Executive Order 20-03 for the purpose of suspending provisions of the Arkansas Code requiring in-person witnessing and notarization of legal documents executed within the State of Arkansas and authorizing notarial acts to be conducted by means of audiovisual technology. The Executive Order became effective March 30, 2020, and expires when the state of emergency is terminated or at such other time as the Governor may direct by subsequent order. A copy of the Executive Order can be found using the following link

https://governor.arkansas.gov/images/uploads/executiveOrders/EO_20-12.__.pdf

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 audiovisual technologies to facilitate the Notarial act. To facilitate the use of audio-visual notary feature as described in the attached Executive Order, 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.html

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 must be retained by the issuing agent for a minimum of seven (7) years.
  2. Provide for secure storage and transmission of the Non-public personal information.
  3. Provide for verification of location of the signer, which must be within the boundaries of the State of Arkansas.

As a convenience to you and to aid your search in locating a service provider, what follows is a list of some providers which offer audio/video conferencing and the ability to record such conference:

Zoom: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/203741855-Cloud-recording

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.Pursuant to the Executive Order, the Notary Public (hereinafter “Notary”) must be:

A. An attorney licensed by the State of Arkansas; or
B. A title agent licensed by the State of Arkansas; or
C. Supervised by either an attorney or a title agent licensed in the State of Arkansas; or
D. Employed by a financial institution registered with the Arkansas State Bank Department

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 is/are located within Arkansas.

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 the copy of the received executed page(s).

8. Signer then sends the wet-signature page to the 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.

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 recording office will accept the Notary performed in this process.
  3. No change is allowed to the acknowledgment forms.
  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 a Stewart Title Guaranty Company underwriter.

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