Proposed Legislation Regarding Remote Notarization
As attorneys and their clients adjust to the current realities of social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the most pressing issues facing estate planners is how to have documents properly notarized without having the notary and signatory in the same physical space. As the result of collaboration between estate planning attorneys, the real estate bar, and legislators, a bill responding to this emergency need has been drafted and is working its way through the Massachusetts legislature. While we wait for its passage (hopefully by sometime this week), we are already looking to see how this new legislation can be incorporated into our practices as a means to continue work while protecting the health and safety of our clients and ourselves.
The draft bill (SD2882) will allow (i) an attorney or (ii) a paralegal under the direct supervision of an attorney to perform any notarial act utilizing real-time electronic video conferencing so long as all parties are physically located within the Commonwealth during the videoconference. During the videoconference, the signatory and witnesses will show the notary their identification credentials and confirm their location within the Commonwealth prior to signing the subject documents. The notary will complete any required affirmation, acknowledgement and other acts as a notary, as appropriate, on a separate counterpart. Once executed, all original documents and signature pages will be complied by the notary along with an affidavit of remote notarization. For real estate-type documents, a second videoconference will be required to confirm receipt of the original documents.
We will continue to provide updates as this still-fluid legislation progresses, and will have a thorough analysis of the final bill when it is signed by the Governor. Until then, we look forward to continuing to provide you with the best service we can during this tumultuous time.