To say that 2020 was a whirlwind year is an understatement. We started the year trying to find new and innovative ways to meet the needs of our members and their clients. By the middle of March 2020, the Coronavirus pandemic had turned every aspect of our lives upside down. While 2020 was certainly dark, there are a few silver linings. To find them, we need only look to each other, and the contributions we have each made over the past year individually and collaboratively through our association.
While 2020 was an extraordinary year, I believe we all rose to the challenge. Our members found new ways to protect themselves and their clients while being busier than ever. From drive-thru closings to remote notarizations, our members went above and beyond to keep real estate transactions moving safely forward.
Like our members, I believe LTAMS was able to accomplish a lot as well. Here’s a not-so-brief highlight of some of our accomplishments during the year:
1. Coronavirus Resources.
At the start of the pandemic, we created a one-stop resource page to house a number of resources related to the pandemic. This includes Chancery Clerk Status, Executive Orders, Closing Protocols, and more. This information continues to be updated.
2. Executive Order – Remote Notarizations.
We researched the steps other states were taking and drafted what is now known as Executive Order No. 1467. We worked with the Governor’s staff to get it signed and in effect. This Executive Order authorizes Mississippi notary publics to use remote ink-signed notarization (wet ink) and remote online notarization (electronic). This Executive Order also became the standard adopted by the American Land Title Association’s committee charged with working with other states to adopt similar orders.
3. Legislation – New Notary Law.
We worked with staff at the Secretary of State’s office and our sponsors – Rep. Aguirre and Sen. Tyler McCaughn – for the introduction of HB 1156 and SB 2394 in the Mississippi legislature. HB 1156 was passed into law and goes into effect July 1, 2021. This new notary law modernizes Mississippi’s notary law and authorizes in-person electronic notarization (IPEN). However, HB 1156 did not include authorization for remote ink-signed notarization (RIN), or remote online notarization (RON).
In addition to the new notary law, HB 1156 also (1) clarified that for a document to be recorded, it must contain an original signature, (2) codified Title Examination Standard 15.02 which provides two exceptions to the spousal joinder requirement and provides that an affidavit may be recorded to evidence the exception, and (3) provided that after July 1, 2021, an affidavit recorded under Miss. Code Ann. § 89-5-8 must include a description of the real property covered by the affidavit.
4. Chancery Clerks.
We’ve continually monitored the status of each Chancery Clerk’s office for recording and searching capability and reported the same via the resource page. For those Chancery Clerk’s offices that closed, we wrote letters to their Board of Supervisors urging them to find ways to safely and quickly reopen and worked with each Clerk’s office. This minimized the impact of the closures and ensured continued access to recording and searching for our members.
5. County Database.
We launched our “Counties” database project, which provides details specific to our members about abstractors that serve each county, the records maintained in each county, each county’s recording capability, links to online resources for each county, foreclosure details (location of the bulletin board, physical sale, posting requirements, etc.), publication newspaper contacts and publication information … and much more.
6. ID Verification.
We added an ID verification solution to our website, which allows our members to verify parties’ ID prior to closing by using Stripe’s ID verification solution. This solution allows members to email a code to their client to start the process, and the client can then complete the automated ID verification process using their computer’s webcam or their smartphone.
7. Waive In-Person CLE Requirements.
We wrote letters to the Mississippi CLE Commission and Supreme Court urging them to waive in-person CLE requirements for the year.
8. Updated Website.
We completely revamped both the frontend and backend of the website to make the site more user friendly and add more features. This included updated member profiles, forums, messaging, etc.
As you can see our plate has been and remains full in representing your better interests. To continue to be successful we need the help of all real property and land title professionals for there is strength in unity and in an active and large membership. Help us continue to help you by doing one of the following today:
- If you are not a current member, then become a member.
- If you are a current member, then renew your membership and add your secretary or paralegal as members for only $35 each to ensure they have access to all of the resources available to members.
- Encourage your colleagues to become members. There is strength in unity.
In the end, we cannot do what we do without your support. I am often asked, “what’s in it for me?” and “why should I join?”. Well, I hope the above highlights provide answers to those questions. If you have an issue or project you’d like the association to consider, let us know!
There are many unknowns in our future, but this industry has the entrepreneurial spirit, expertise, dedication, grit, and support structure that will serve us well through 2021 and beyond. My heartfelt thanks to each reader for their attention and commitment to our industry and all you do to support LTAMS.