With the Coronavirus making itself known across Missouri, there’s never been a more critical time to work together. We’re adjusting to sheltering in place, yet at the same time, we’re working to keep as much “normal life” going as we can.
Recently, I was proud to take part in an online lobbying effort. The goal was to have restrictions relaxed on public notaries. The current law requires that notaries meet with signers in person when notarizing documents. With a shelter in place order in effect, this puts a stop to a lot of business and makes life difficult for everybody.
I, along with other attorneys, felt that there had to be a better solution – a safer way to get documents notarized while still taking care of needed business. This is especially important right now because so many people are trying to create or update end-of-life documents. They want to do the responsible thing, yet they don’t want to endanger their health to do it.
So, I took to Twitter to reach out to Governor Mike Parson to lobby for relaxed restrictions for public notaries. I suggested using online notarization services so that public notaries can take care of business safely and conveniently. In one tweet, I asked him directly to please issue an executive order to allow remote notary, pointing out that Missouri was one of only 13 states where that wasn’t allowed. I also mentioned the fact that people are trying to get their affairs in order, which is something the government should encourage.
"It’s important for us in state government to work together to remove barriers to keep Missourians moving forward during this time"
Governor Parson responded well, and soon our goal was reached. On April 6, 2020, our Missouri governor signed an executive order allowing public notaries to offer their services through virtual meetings. The order allows notaries and signers to “meet” using audiovisual technology rather than meeting face to face.
This order is so important, not only to safeguard the health of public notaries and signers. It also assures that documents can be signed, witnessed, and documented so that people can continue to take care of legal matters while maintaining social distancing.
Governor Parson seems to understand the situation. Of the executive order, Governor Parson said, “It’s important for us in state government to work together to remove barriers to keep Missourians moving forward during this time,” Parson said in a statement. “We need to do everything we can to ensure Missourians can still safely enter into contracts, sign mortgages, and update wills and personal health care directives without placing themselves or their notary at risk.”
In a separate statement, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, who requested the order, said it “is vital to protecting the safety of thousands of Notaries Public, who are often asked to visit homes and businesses to notarize documents.”
I’m honored to have been a part of the solution in dealing with this aspect of the pandemic. More than that, I’m happy that people can do the things they need to do in this difficult time and do them in the safest way possible.