REMOTE ONLINE NOTARIZATION MAKES A PERMANENT RETURN TO NEW YORK
In March 2020, remote online notarization was introduced to New York as part of an array of gubernatorial Executive Orders to reduce the need for in-person meetings during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The order permitted any documents that would require a standard in-person notary to be signed before a notary virtually via video conference. This applied to deeds, trusts, court documents, and any other documents that required a notary public. After many renewals, the Executive Order expired in June 2021.
Now New York has joined more than 37 other states in making remote online notarization permanent. Governor Hochul signed Senate Bill 1780C on December 22, 2021. The bill was sponsored by Orange County Senator James Skoufis, and becomes effective on June 20, 2022.
Here’s what to know about the new law:
- It will work for many kinds of legal documents, but not all. Last Wills & Testaments (which in 2020 and 2021 could be signed remotely via a different Executive Order) require two lay witnesses rather than a notary public, so they’re not included. Further, in 2021, New York changed the law surrounding Powers of Attorney to require a lay witness in addition to a notary public, so they cannot be signed remotely either.
- Not every notary is automatically an electronic notary. Registration with the Department of State is required.
- Recording of remote online notarization is required in most instances, and the files must be saved for at least ten years.
More guidance is expected from the Department of State as this law draws closer to going into effect. Forthcoming details are expected to include specifics on the type of software permissible for conducting remote online notarization, the type of digital signatures required, and other logistics.
It’s unlikely that remote online notarization means the end of the traditional real estate closing or other sit-down legal transactions (though many are already conducted remotely via mail, etc.). However, the ability to get documents signed via a virtual conference has the potential to make things easier and more efficient for clients and attorneys. Deeds, court petitions, and dozens of other types of documents can be signed with immediacy from anywhere.
This is not intended to be legal advice. You should contact an attorney for advice regarding your specific situation.