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S.C. Lawmaker fights for remote and e-notaries amid coronavirus outbreak

Rep. Mandy Powers Norrell says older clients and critically-ill patients need end of life documents notarized safely during pandemic

COLUMBIA, S.C. — State House Representative Mandy Powers Norrell started to notice a problem with legal work as the coronavirus outbreak caused more disruption in recent weeks.

“You know I'm a lawyer, and a small town lawyer. A lot of elderly people were calling me and asking me if I could help them do their wills and powers of attorney and all these documents you think about towards the end of your life, or when you're thinking about end of life issues. And so, I didn't want them to have to come into my office, I didn't want them to have to leave their homes. So, we started doing it where they would drive up and we would let them sign at their cars,” Powers Norrell said.

The State House representative and former candidate for lieutenant governor said she went to work immediately to come up with a better solution.

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She and other attorneys worked on an 8-page executive order proposal to allow temporary e-notaries and remote notaries. Powers Norrell said she was inspired by existing legislative proposals working their way through the State House.

The Lancaster Democrat urged the state to think about the elderly and other patients who could become critically ill.

“Just knowing that these people could very well be facing end of life without getting those documents that they need, like their wills or their powers of attorney, it's really heartbreaking and there's got to be a way,” Powers Norrell said on a video call with WLTX.

The proposed executive order would allow notaries to watch a signing over video call, require the calls be recorded, and would only last the duration of the declared state emergency.

Powers Norrell added the requirement for recording video calls would help cut down on potential fraud.

The Governor received the proposal on Sunday night and is considering it, after a few phone calls, according to Powers Norrell.