The novel Corona Virus has tested businesses, governments, nations, and individuals. The unexpected outcomes of COVID 19 have compelled companies, to initiate strategies to remain strong in businesses despite the challenges. Curfews and social distancing as strategies or reducing the spread of COVID 19 have affected routine business transactions. Companies have developed strategies to remain relevant and operational in the current trends.
One notable aspect that is changing is the Remote Online Notarization (RON) laws and rules. Notarization is an essential fraud-deterrent process that ensures the authenticity of documents and involves a process of vetting, certifying, and record-keeping at the Notary Public. Notarization is crucial for businesses, especially the Real Estate industry, which requires authentic notarization before sealing a deal.
Traditionally, notarization was completed in person. Homebuyers, sellers, and real estate agents would arrange for meetings at the office of the Attorney. They provided the necessary documentation and completed the signing of the documents under oath before a notary public. The notary proceeds to sign the papers and ensure they were sealed for record-keeping. The process was the same for notarization in other business transactions.
Notarization Shifts Over Years
Enhancements and innovations in technology have compelled States to embrace digital forms of notarization to keep up with the emerging trends. As some states allowed Remote Online Notarization, some were rigid to the changes and maintained the traditional trends. However, with the current challenge of COVID 19, states are continually making shifts to RON to ensure effective streamlining and automation of the process. Significant shifting to RON requires planning, implementation, and journeying with a partner who understands the process to ensure the successful execution of the strategy.
Remote Online Notarization
RON allows signers and notaries to get documents signed and notarized without the need for a physical meeting. The process is completed via electronic signatures and a live video in the presence of a notary public virtually. The notary public gets to verify the documentation and the authenticity of the signer using the KBA or the ID verification technology. The notary further records and retains some portions of the session for seven years, which allows easy retrieval when required.
Since the first paperless real estate transaction in 2000, several states have maintained the traditional notarization process despite the dangers posed by COVID 19. The states are currently making the appropriate shifts towards RON and complying with government directives on social distancing. Twenty-eight state legislatures have passed legislation to authorize RON, and at least eight states have temporarily authorized RON by emergency order.
The SECURE Act
Senator Kevin Kramer, R-N.D. and Mark Warner, D-Va, introduced legislation to empower nationwide use of RON on March 18, 2020. Bill 3533, the Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic Notarization Act of 2020 (the “SECURE Act”) was further introduced as Bi-partisan legislation that authorized and established minimum standards for electronic and remote notarizations that happen.
If the act materializes into law, it will authorize every US notary to complete remote online notarizations via audio-visual communications.
Further Legislation across the Different States
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo gave an executive order to allow online notarization under the following conditions:
- If the seeker of the Notary Services is not familiar with the Notary, they should present a valid photo ID during the Live Conference. The signer should not produce an ID before or after the process.
- The video conference should be a live direct interaction between the parties involved.
- The person must physically be located in New York.
The requirements for RON are almost similar across the 28 states with slight differences in the process.
New Jersey further made strides towards embracing RON similar to other states. RON might be a national Resolution even after COVID 19 from its convenience flexibility and ease of the processes.
The Future in Ron
As RON becomes the solution for social distancing across many states and countries, other industries other than real estate will make significant strides in their business operations. Such Include banks which will be required to comply with the state set guidelines for genuine RON transactions. Some of the challenges will be privacy implications, which states will have to address in case unexpected parties appear on the screen during the process.
Despite the much considerations required embracing RON entirely, presents an opportunity for businesses to digitize their operations and advance with the current technological trends. Different entities are available to offer support to companies exploring RON.