Remote Notary Statute Passed to Facilitate Estate Planning, Other Legal Matters, During Pandemic

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While we are all safe at home, a lot of things we took for granted just a few short weeks ago, have had to be sidelined until the current health situation has subsided. One of those things is the ability to go meet with your attorney, without fear of health risk. While we have been undertaking measures to safely execute estate planning documents, exercising distancing while still being in the physical presence of two witnesses and a notary, when required under Massachusetts law, a new statute eases these requirements.

Just yesterday, April 27, 2020, Governor Baker signed into law, a statute that will temporarily allow remote notarization. The Act has certain formalities and requirements of its own. For example, the notary and all signatories must be physically located in Massachusetts at the time of the videoconference, which must be recorded. The signers must show both front and back of satisfactory evidence of identity on the screen, and disclose any persons present in the room at the time of signing and make that person visible to the notary, among other requirements. The original documents must then be sent to the notary for signature and stamping.

If the documents requiring notarization involve real estate transactions must have a secondary videoconference, in which the signatory must declare to be present in Massachusetts, disclose any persons present in the room and make them visible to the notary and verify that the document received by the notary is the same document that was signed during the first videoconference.

All recordings must be maintained for a period of ten years. The Act allowing remote notarization will remain in effect for three business days following the lifting of the state of emergency.

For our clients who would like to sign their estate planning documents during the crisis, our office is equipped and ready to do so. Our drive-in signing protocol is also available for those who still wish to sign in-person.

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