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On April 27, 2020, Governor Baker signed into law An Act Providing for Virtual Notarization to Address Challenges Related to COVID-19 (the “Virtual Notarization Act” or the “Act”). In doing so, Massachusetts joins a number of other states, including Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, New Hampshire and Georgia (among others), in adopting temporary measures to permit virtual notarization during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Massachusetts Virtual Notarization Act shall remain in effect until three (3) business days after Governor Baker’s March 10, 2020 declaration of state of emergency terminates and permits a duly authorized notary public to virtually notarize signatures during this time. According to the Act, notaries shall adhere to the following protocols when performing an acknowledgment, affirmation, or other notarial act using real-time video conferencing:
In addition to the preceding list of requirements, there are two additional steps to be taken for any documents executed in the course of a real estate transaction. If the signer is not personally known to the notary, during the initial video conference the signer must display a second form of identification containing the signer’s name. Another government-issued identification, credit card, social security card, tax or utility bill dated within 60 days of the video conference are acceptable forms of identification. Additionally, upon receipt of the executed document(s), the notary and signer must engage in a second video conference during which the signer verifies to the notary that the document received by the notary is the same document executed during the first video conference. The signer must again disclose any other person present in the room and make him or her viewable to the notary.
The notary must also execute an affidavit that provides that he or she has:
The notary shall retain the affidavit for ten (10) years.
The Act does not alter or amend the requirement in Massachusetts that the closing of a transaction involving a mortgage or other conveyance of title to real estate may only be conducted by an attorney duly admitted to practice law in the Commonwealth.
If a notary chooses to notarize documents under the Virtual Notarization Act, it is advisable to confirm with the client that a virtually notarized document is acceptable. Additionally, it is also advisable to confirm that any applicable errors and omissions policy will cover professional acts involving a virtual notarization.
If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Jennifer Markowski at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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