Bulletin: GA2014007

Date:
October 06, 2014
To:
All Georgia Issuing Offices
RE:
UNDERWRITING - “Witness Only” Closings, Lender Documents, and Closing Funds

Dear Associates:

On September 22, 2014, Formal Advisory Opinion No. 13-1 was Approved and Issued by order of the Supreme Court of Georgia. The opinion places emphasis on the role of Georgia licensed attorneys in real estate transactions, including refinances, of the following: 1) acting as a witness or notary; 2) accepting documents from a lender or from other sources; and 3) handling of funds for a real estate transaction. The opinion advises the following: 

  • A Lawyer MAY NOT ethically conduct a “witness only” closing.
  • A Lawyer MAY use documents prepared by others after ensuring the accuracy, making the necessary revisions, and adopting the work.  
  • A Lawyer MUST deposit and disburse real estate closings funds to and from his/her trust account.

A copy of the advisory opinion is attached.

All Issuing Agents conducting business in the State of Georgia should consult with their own counsel for advice on closing practices and adherence to the law.

If you have any questions relating to this or other bulletins, please contact a Stewart Title Guaranty Company underwriter.

For on-line viewing of this and other bulletins, please log onto www.vuwriter.com.

THIS BULLETIN IS FURNISHED TO INFORM YOU OF CURRENT DEVELOPMENTS. AS A REMINDER, YOU ARE CHARGED WITH KNOWLEDGE OF THE CONTENT ON VIRTUAL UNDERWRITER  AS IT EXISTS FROM TIME TO TIME AS IT APPLIES TO YOU, AS WELL AS ANY OTHER INSTRUCTIONS. OUR UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS DO NOT AUTHORIZE OUR ISSUING AGENTS TO ENGAGE IN SETTLEMENTS OR CLOSINGS ON BEHALF OF STEWART TITLE GUARANTY COMPANY. THIS BULLETIN IS NOT INTENDED TO DIRECT YOUR ESCROW OR SETTLEMENT PRACTICES OR TO CHANGE PROVISIONS OF APPLICABLE UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS. CONFIDENTIAL, PROPRIETARY, OR NONPUBLIC PERSONAL INFORMATION SHOULD NEVER BE SHARED OR DISSEMINATED EXCEPT AS ALLOWED BY LAW. IF APPLICABLE STATE LAW OR REGULATION IMPOSES ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS, YOU SHOULD CONTINUE TO COMPLY WITH THOSE REQUIREMENTS.

References

Bulletins Replaced:
None
Related Bulletins:
GA2012003 Senate Bill 365 - Georgia Attorney Required for the Settlement and Disbursement of Closing Proceeds; Separate Cause of Action for Violations
Underwriting Manual:
None
Exceptions Manual:
None
Forms:
None