Wednesday, April 22, 2020
Boston- The state Senate today gave approval to a proposal to authorize notaries to use electronic video conferencing. Based on a bill first proposed by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester), the bill allows documents to be notarized using video in light of the social distancing requirements of the coronavirus pandemic,
Under existing law documents must be signed and witnessed in face-to-face meetings.
“There is a criticality to this bill that cannot be overstated because it enables remote notarization of documents that are vital to our lives and are particularly important at this challenging time in which we live,” Tarr said in the Senate Chamber. “It is incumbent on us to advance a bill that grants relief for people needing notarization for things like wills, trusts, real estate documents like mortgages.”
The bill, Senate 2645, An Act Providing For Virtual Notarization To Address Challenges Related To Covid-19, will authorize the use of video conferencing to validate documents provided that all participants are located within the borders of the state.
Notaries are state-licensed and perform an official function of affirming that a document is authentic. The notary serves an anti-fraud mechanism, making sure that the transaction and documents can be trusted, are authentic and there is a certified record of the transaction.
Senator John Keenan, Senator William Brownsberger, and Senator Barry Finegold were instrumental in developing the bill in its final form.
Only a notary who is a licensed attorney or a paralegal under the direct supervision of a state-licensed attorney may execute the service.
Tarr noted that the bill permits real-time video conferencing for any document in the course of closing a transaction involving a mortgage or other conveyance of title to real estate, any will, nomination of guardian or conservator, caregiver authorization affidavit, trust, durable power of attorney or health care proxy.
“The times we now live where people need to prepare wills and health care documents very quickly compels us to act; it's the right thing to do and I appreciate the support and actions of the Senate,” said Tarr.
The bill now moves to the House of Representative where it must first be approved before votes of enactment and advancing to Governor Charlie Baker. This legislation will sunset three days after the state of emergency is lifted.