Great news for Massachusetts residents needing to complete Estate Planning and Real Estate transactions while following social distancing guidelines. On April 27th, 2020, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law An Act Providing For Virtual Notarization To Address Challenges Related To COVID-19. (durable powers of attorney and HIPPA authorizations will be able to be notarized and will be legally enforceable. Massachusetts notaries may now use real-time electronic video conferencing to perform “acknowledgement, affirmation, or other notarial act” during the COVID-19 crisis. As a Notary Public, John Tramontozzi and the team at Tramontozzi Law recognize that this will dramatically ease the burden on families and individuals struggling to manage their affairs in these challenging times in Melrose MA and throughout the state.
This measure will permit documents to be signed at home, observed by a notary and witnesses through videoconferencing technology. This is a temporary measure that will expire three business days following the termination of Governor Charlie Baker’s declaration of a state of emergency.
The Basic Requirements
- The notary and signatories must be physically present in Massachusetts at the time of the videoconference.
- Signers must disclose any person present in the room with the principal and must make that person visible to the notary.
- Signer must produce to the notary evidence of his or her identity. The notary can still rely on personal knowledge of the signer or may review his or her government issued identification as provided under L Ch. 222, Section 1. Signers using government issued identifications must show both the front and back of his or her identification to the video camera. Signers using a passport must show the passport cover, the page or pages containing a picture of his or her face, and the page containing his or her signature. Additionally, signers must provide the notary with a copy of the relevant sides of pages or his or her legal identification either with the executed document(s) or by electronic means.
- The notary must observe the execution of the document to be notarized, ( This differs from “in person” notarization, which allows the signer to affirm his or her signature to the notary after they have signed.)
- “Wet Ink” signatures are required from both the principal and the notary.
- Once the document being notarized is signed, the signatory must arrange for the original document to be delivered to the notary.
- For All Transactions: The Notary must observe each person who signs the document during the videoconference.
- For All Transactions: Each signer must have the executed document delivered to the notary public by such means as courier, delivery service, or another means by which they are directed by the notary public.
- This may result in delays in completion of the notarial act.
- For Real Estate and mortgage transactions: The notary must engage in a second videoconference to verify the document received is the same document executed by the signer.
The Notary Certificate
- Must state that the document was notarized remotely under the Act, the county where the notary was located during the notarial act, and the date the act was completed (which may be at a later date than the date the principal executed the document).
- For mortgage and finance transactions the notarial certificate may instead include the date referenced in the body of the document.
- The notary must complete an affidavit concerning the execution of the documents. The notary must confirm that he or she inspected the signer’s identification during the videoconference and received a copy of their identification, that he or she obtained verbal consent to record the videoconference, that he or she has taken the signer’s affirmation of presence in Massachusetts during the videoconference.
- For Estate Planning documents to be considered complete, the notary’s affidavit must be compiled with all original counterparts for safekeeping. We at Tramontozzi Law can ensure that this process is completed within the requirements of the Law.
- For real estate documents, this affidavit need not be recorded or filed in the registry of the land court or registry of deeds.
- An audio-video recording of the notarial transaction must be kept for ten (10) years by the notary.
To learn more about the history of this Bill and similar bills related to COVID-19, please visit the Massachusetts Legislature website.
Tramontozzi Law Offices specializes in Estate Planning and Real Estate Law and is equipped to notarize documents via videoconferencing. For more information, please call 781-665-0099.