In response to an effort organized by the Missouri Land Title Association and assistance from many throughout the industry (including our own John Duckworth), Missouri Governor Mike Parson issued an emergency Executive Order yesterday authorizing the use of electronic notarization during the COVID-19 crisis. The order authorizes the use of electronic notarization through different means; one through the use of “Remote Online Notarization” (“RON”), which is entirely electronic; and the second through a video conference where the notary witnesses the wet-ink signature by video.
The full details of the process are still being ironed out, as the Secretary of State has to authorize specific software to be utilized, as well as to approve existing notaries to notarize through these electronic means. Once that is complete, the title insurance underwriters will provide their guidance and rules for the use of such notarization.
True Title has been anticipating this change, and engaged with the third-party RON providers early in the crisis. As you might expect, these providers have become overwhelmed and are struggling to maintain their services; at this time, we are still in the onboarding/implementation process. In addition, many lenders have still not approved the use of fully electronic loan documents, so we still may have a requirement for wet-ink documents. However, as we await final implementation from the Secretary of State, Title Underwriters and Software Providers, we are in a position to do “hybrid” closings.
What is a HYBRID closing?
Effectively, this means that the only documents that will have wet-ink signatures are any document required for recording (i.e., warranty deed, marital waiver, deed of trust/mortgage) and lender-required wet-ink documents (i.e., promissory note). The remainder of the documents will be executed via DocuSign online. Our closers will be available to “talk through” the closing documents over the telephone just as they would at the closing table. The parties would then come to the title company to execute the 1-3 necessary documents from their car – a very quick and relatively safe manner to complete the closing process.
As soon as we have additional details on the full implementation of the executive order, we will share them here!