COVID-19 and the impact to virtual notarization – Silicon Valley Bank

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As we work to find ways to continue conducting business and moving forward, we have all had to stop and reexamine what we do and how we do it. This approach is not limited to finding ways to educate children remotely, work remotely, and socialize remotely. Certain functions that have historically required in-person interactions are now being looked at to find virtual solutions.
To that end, on April 27, 2020, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law An Act Providing for Virtual Notarization to Address Challenges Related to Covid-19 (the “Notarization Act”). This allows Massachusetts notaries to notarize documents remotely via electronic videoconference technology for the period of time that the Commonwealth is under the COVID-19 state of emergency.
Under certain circumstances, a notary public may notarize signatures that have been witnessed via videoconference technology. This is a temporary accommodation permitting people to sign documents while a notary remotely witnesses the execution of documents.
This will importantly allow for the completion of real estate transactions and execution of estate planning documents while maintaining the Commonwealth’s social distancing guidelines.
The Notarization Act does not have any requirements regarding specific videoconferencing technology, just that the software be capable of recording the videoconference used to conduct notarization. Most documents require one videoconference, while documents required to complete a real estate transaction are required to be notarized via two videoconferences.
The following requirements must be met for all documents that are notarized under the Notarization Act:
It is important to note that Massachusetts is not the only state to allow for virtual notarization during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The governor enacted an executive order permitting documents to be notarized similarly to Massachusetts. Pursuant to that executive order, any notarial act required under the laws of the State of New York is authorized to be performed virtually in accordance with the following:
In June 2019, Florida enacted a bill allowing for remote online notarization, coming into effect in January 2020. While Florida’s bill was not enacted in response to challenges resulting from COVID-19, it has substantially the same process and impact as the emergency legislation passed by Massachusetts and the executive order enacted in New York.
As always, please consult your with your local jurisdiction and legal counsel for additional information.
Gerald Baker is the head of Trust & Fiduciary Services and co-head of the Center for Wealth Planning Excellence at SVB Private.
The views expressed in the article are those of the author and/or person interviewed and do not necessarily reflect the views of SVB Private or other members of Silicon Valley Bank Financial Group. The materials on this website are for informational purposes only, are subject to change and do not take into account your particular investment objective, financial situation or need. Since each client’s situation is unique, you should consult your financial advisor and/or tax planning professional before acting on any information provided herein
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