In an effort to facilitate important legal transactions and documents, such as deeds and Wills, during the current COVID-19 government mandated shut down, the Massachusetts legislature has recently taken up an emergency bill to allow remote notarization of these documents.
The bill provides that any acknowledgement, affirmation or other notarial act may be done via videoconferencing in real time, provided that:
- both the notary and principal (under the act, the principal may refer to either the signatory or witness) are physically located within Massachusetts;
- the individual executing the documents delivers the originally executed documents to the notary by delivery service, courier or other means as determined by the notary;
- “satisfactory evidence of identity” (such as a driver’s license) is provided to the notary; and
- after the notary receives the executed document, there needs to be second video conference.
Furthermore, the record of the signing and all documentation must be maintained by the notary for 10 years.
In addition to the video conference requirements, notaries under this bill (licensed attorneys and their paralegals) must also execute an affidavit confirming the attorney has:
- received and reviewed of a copy of the principal’s identification credential;
- obtained verbal consent to any recording of the video conference;
- taken the principal’s affirmations as to physical presence of the principal within Massachusetts; and
- been informed of, and noted on the affidavit, those present in the room and provided a statement of the relationship of the persons in the room to the principal.
Provided the proper steps have been followed, the signed document will have the same legal recognition as a document signed in person.
Until the remote notary bill becomes law, executing important legal documents requiring notarization and/or witness is a challenge. We have developed some solutions for certain situations.
We will continue to stay abreast of any updates and developments as the bill moves forward to enactment. In the meantime, please feel free reach out to us with any questions you may have.