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  • Brittany Besler

Virtual Notarization in MA

Updated: Apr 28, 2020

Govenor Baker signed S.2645 today to allow for remote notarization. This Act allows for licensed notaries to perform notarial acts utilizing video conferencing.


Under previous Massachusetts law, in order for a notary to notarize a document, the person must personally appear and sign a document before the notary. With the ongoing pandemic, this has proven to be not only difficult, but dangerous.


However, without essential estate planning documents, such as health care proxies to authorize a person to make medical decisions for them and durable powers of attorney to authorize a person to make financial decisions for them, my clients will have no one to act on their behalf during incapacity.  In addition, if these high-risk clients die during this pandemic, they will not be able to sign their last will and testament or trust documents to direct the disposition of their assets and appoint their choice for who will administer the estate and trust.


Some clients are unable to sign deeds or other documents necessary for closings and financing.  Many registry of deeds are still accepting online filings, but if clients cannot sign the documents in front of a notary, the transaction cannot occur and there is nothing to file.


This alert is to let you know that there is an emergency bill pending that would allow for attorneys, or a paralegal under the direction of an attorney, to virtually notarize documents for clients, who are either personally known to them or who can provide a valid photographic identification.  The proposed virtual notarization may be performed using technology, such as FaceTime calls or other video conferencing.  The emergency notary act will allow for the documents to be signed in counterparts, at different locations, then later assembled for a valid complete document.  The virtual notary bill as proposed, would apply only during this time of a declared emergency.


HOW IT WORKS:

  • An attorney (or paralegal at attorney's direction) and the signer join a video chat.

  • The signer presents ID and sends the documents to the attorney (the documents can be sent ahead).

  • The attorney checks the documents and ID and confirms.

  • The attorney drafts and signs an affidavit confirming as such. The attorney stamps the documents and issues the affidavit.

  • The documents are sent to the corresponding agency (for real estate documents this is the Registry of Deeds).

The identification & affidavit must be recorded and kept on file for 10 years.


The remote option would cease three business days after the state of emergency is lifted, according to the bill.


This bill provides much needed peace of mind to Attorney's who have been working with clients to find the best way to execute their important documents, but also keep themselves safe. I look forward to seeing this bill become law.

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