A Mail-away Closing is one in which one or more of the parties is (most often, though not necessarily) out-of-state and consequently asks if the closing documents be mailed and executed in front of a notary or other signing service. Unfortunately, the ethical permissability of these types of closings is suspect at best and we really can’t use mobile notary services for our closings. It’s just how the legal ethics rules work.
You see, Georgia is an attorney state. That means that every closing must be conducted, and all the documents should be signed, in the presence of a Georgia lawyer. In fact, the Georgia’s Supreme Court has
has consistently held that it is the unauthorized practice of law for someone other than a duly licensed Georgia attorney to close a real estate transaction. And in 2003, the Georgia Supreme Court approved an advisory opinion by the Georgia State Bar’s Standing Committee on the Unlicensed Practice of Law finding that the preparation and execution of a deed of conveyance by a non-lawyer represented the unauthorized practice of law (In re UPL Advisory Opinion 2003·2, 588 S.E.2d 741 (Ga. 2003); UPL Advisory Opinion 2003-02 (2003)).
[A] lawyer cannot delegate to a nonlawyer the responsibility to “close” the real estate transaction without the participation of an attorney. Formal Advisory Opinion No. 86-5 also provides that “Supervision of the work of the paralegal by the attorney must be direct and constant to avoid any charges of aiding the unauthorized practice of law.” The lawyer’s physical presence at a closing will assure that there is supervision of the work of the paralegal which is direct and constant.Supreme Court of Georgia, Formal Advisory Opinion 00-3. (Emphasis added).