Massachusetts Legislature Passes Law Allowing Remote Notarization During the COVID-19 Crisis

On April 27, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law a temporary measure allowing notaries who are attorneys (or their paralegals) to notarize documents using real-time electronic video conferencing. Prior to enactment, to create a self-proving will, a notary was required to be physically present with the signer (testator) and two witnesses which resulted in at least four people being in close proximity (self-proving wills obviate the need for the witnesses to authenticate the will after the testator’s death).
The new law provides a mechanism to notarize documents while accommodating the Massachusetts’ social distancing guidelines that encourage people to stay at least six feet away from each other. Under the new law a notarization for estate planning documents using electronic video conferencing is valid as long as:

  1. the notary observes the signer’s and each witnesses’ execution of the document;
  2. each signer and witness makes an acknowledgement or affirmation to the notary;
  3. the notary, the signer and each witness is physically located within Massachusetts;
  4. each signer and witness provides the notary with satisfactory evidence of identity; and
  5. each signer and witness causes the executed document to be delivered to the notary.

When the notary receives the document, he or she then stamps and signs the executed document, whereupon the notarial act is completed. (There are additional requirements for real estate transactions.) The law allowing remote notarization will automatically be repealed three business days after the termination of the governor’s March 10, 2020 declaration of a state of emergency.

If you know a Massachusetts resident who has a need for estate planning, emergency or otherwise, please ask him or her to contact me directly.

M. E. Sullivan Law, LLC       617 409 3884