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COVID-19: Maine Modifies Notarization and Acknowledgement Requirements

On Wednesday, April 8, 2020, Governor Janet Mills issued an Executive Order suspending the requirement that a person whose oath is being taken be physically present at the same location as the notary public and any witnesses, with certain exceptions. Additionally, a number of conditions must be met in order to perform remote notarial services. It is important to note that the order only applies to the requirement to appear in person; all other requirements under Maine law pertaining to the taking of sworn statements and acknowledgments remain in effect.

Conditions

  • Both the signatory and the notary must be physically present in Maine when performing the notarial act
  • The notarization must allow for direct contemporaneous interaction between the parties via two-way audio-video communication technology
  • The signatory must initial each page of the document and send an electronic image as well as the hard copy to the witnesses (if any) and notary
  • Any document that is required to be notarized “in the presence and hearing” of a signatory, and is compliant with this order, will be deemed to have been notarized in the presence and hearing of the signatory
  • Remote notarization will not be deemed invalid or impaired if one of these conditions is not met, so long as the notarization was performed in substantial compliance with the order
  • There are a number of other conditions set forth in the order and the secretary of state may also issue additional guidance

Exceptions

The order does not apply to the following notarial acts:

  • Solemnizing marriages
  • Administering oaths to circulators of state or local direct initiative or referendum petitions and nomination petitions of candidates for electoral office
  • Absentee ballots in state and local elections

The order terminates 30 days after the termination of the COVID-19 state of emergency unless sooner amended or rescinded.

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About this Author

Marianna Putnam Liddell Trusts & Estates Practice Pierce Atwood Portland, ME
Partner

Molly Liddell works with clients to help them plan for complicated personal transitions, which can occur at marriage, birth of a child, transfer of a business, death, or through gifting to family members or charitable organizations. Her practice involves estate planning, estate administration, trust administration, business succession planning, and the tax planning related to these areas.

Molly is dedicated to helping clients craft the legacy they leave behind for their families and for other institutions that are important to them, such as charitable organizations or family...

(207) 791-1153