New Emergency Law Allows Notarization by Videoconference; Estate Planning and Real Estate Instruments Can Now be Executed Remotely

Emergency legislation just signed by Governor Baker will temporarily allow notaries in Massachusetts to acknowledge the signature of people who are present by video conference. This important law allows people who want to sign legal documents from their homes to do so.  The person signing will show the notary identification in the video conference and then have the documents delivered to the notary. The notary will sign a detailed affidavit regarding the remote notarization. Both the notary and the person signing have to be located in the state of Massachusetts at the time of the signing.  The person signing has to disclose who is in the room – an important precaution to assure that the person signing is doing so of their own free will.

This new law will allow our clients  to update and  sign important estate planning documents – such as  wills and trusts, health care proxies and powers of attorney – without  being having to be in physical contact with anyone else.  Our clients will also be able to authorize their attorney to complete transactions for them through a power of attorney, including the buying and selling real estate.  For documents that are to be recorded in a registry of deeds, a second videoconference is required after the notary receives the document to verify that the document the notary received is the same document the person signed.

Many transactions have been made much difficult by the stay-at-home orders and closure of town halls and state government.  This statute will provide important, temporary relief by allowing people in Massachusetts the ability to sign real estate, business, and estate planning documents safely during the period of the state of emergency declared as a result of the pandemic.