Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Massachusetts allows remote notarization of documents during the Corvid-19 emergency

Massachusetts is under a shelter in place emergency order due to Corvid-19 (Coronavirus).  This order creates social distancing but permits business to occur if it can be done with social distancing.  People still have the need to execute documents.  Some of these documents need to be signed before a notary public.  Massachusetts government has recognized the need for documents to be signed before a notary public during this emergency by passing a law to allow remote notary witnessing of documents.  This law went into effect immediately upon the Governor signing the law due to the emergency nature.  The law expires three days after the Governor’s declaration of emergency terminates.

This bill has a number of requirements for remote notarization.  The following is a summary of the requirements of the new law:

Notary must witness signing of document by video and acknowledgment by principal
Notary and Principal are physically within Massachusetts (Principal swears or affirms this to Notary)
Principal discloses all other people in the room with Principal
Principal provides Notary with proof of identity
Government issued
Photo ID
ID displayed on video and then image of front and back emailed or faxed to Notary or sent with document
Original document sent to Notary by delivery or courier service
Notary record retention 10 years
If the document being notarized relates to the title to land the principal and notary must have a second video conference in which the principal verifies that the document received by the notary is the correct document.  A second form of identification is also required.
When notary affixes notary seal the recital must indicate that the document was remotely acknowledged
Notary executes an affidavit in which the notary states compliance with all of the requirements under the statute and retains the affidavit for 10 years.
Certain documents may only be notarized by a notary public who is also a lawyer or a paralegal working under the supervision of a lawyer.

Attorney Alan Pransky is also a notary and can assist people who have a need to have documents signed before a notary public.