Remote Signing During COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about many changes to the ways that we live and do business. One such change is that as lawyers, we now have more flexible procedures to take signatures of real estate closing documents. Previously it was a standard requirement that in order to sign real estate documents, a vendor or purchaser needed to meet with a lawyer or notary in person to sign the closing documents.
However, due to COVID-19, the Law Society and Land Title Survey Authority (“LTSA”) have introduced some new regulations that allow us to meet with our clients virtually over video conference (we use zoom). This option is available if it is medically unsafe for our clients to meet with a lawyer or notary in person.
In general, when we meet with clients to sign their real estate documents, that meeting serves two purposes: it allows us to verify our clients identification pursuant to Law Society rules (for more information on this, see our blog “Why Do We Need Your ID?” here: https://touchstonelawgroup.com/kelowna-lawyers/need-id/). It also allows us to witness the signing of our client’s documents, as required is required by the Land Title Act.
Having the signing appointment by way of video conference allows our clients a second option when its medically unsafe for them to meet with us in person.
Note however that this option is not always permitted. For our clients who are obtaining financing for a purchase, the lender must permit signing by way of video conference. While most lenders have begun permitting this, not all do. It is therefore important that we confirm with the lender in advance to ensure that there is a plan in place for signing.
There are also additional steps for ID verification that must be followed if a client is located outside of Canada.
What can you expect?
Having a virtual signing appointment does not mean that the documents are signed electronically using DocuSign or a similar program. The vendor or purchaser must still sign the documents in wet ink, with the lawyer or notary witnessing their signatures via video.
Consequently, in order to proceed with a virtual signing appointment, you must have access to a reliable internet connection, a computer with a webcam so that we can see you, and a Zoom account.
You will also need to have access to a printer to print the documents off before the meeting. Following the meeting, we will need the signed documents sent back to us, so you must have access to a scanner or another device that can take and send pictures of the documents. As with all real estate transaction, you will also need to have two pieces of valid ID (with at least one being government issued photo ID).
If remote signing is something that you are interested in, we recommend raising that with your lawyer early in the process. It may not always be available, but when appropriate it can bean alternative way to have your documents signed safely and conveniently.
Author: Jane Otterstrom
This information is general in nature only. You should consult a lawyer before acting on any of this information. This information should not be considered as legal advice. To learn more about your legal needs, please contact our office at (250)448-2637 or any of our lawyers practicing in the area of real estate at the following:
Jane Otterstrom: firstname.lastname@example.org
Una Kuzio: email@example.com