By Bob Katzen
Governor Charlie Baker signed into law a bill that authorizes a notary public to notarize documents via electronic video conferencing in real time as long as both the notary and each principal involved in the transaction are physically located within Massachusetts. A notary public’s duty, as described by the National Notary Association’s website is “to screen the signers of important documents for their true identity, their willingness to sign without duress or intimidation, and their awareness of the contents of the document or transaction.” Documents include mortgages, wills, trusts, durable power of attorney, health care proxies and caregiver authorizations. The new law will sunset three days after the state of emergency is lifted by the governor.
Supporters said that the COVID-19 virus has held up the notarization and validity of thousands of important documents across the state because all the parties are practicing social distancing, are sheltering in place and hesitate to meet in an office with other people.
“With each passing day, the need for virtual notarization has become more critical,” said Sen. John Keenan (D-Quincy) who was instrumental in the bill’s drafting and passage. “I’m pleased the Legislature passed, and the governor signed, legislation that allows important documents to be notarized remotely so our friends and families have the ability to settle these personal matters. We should give our families and friends, faced with difficult decisions, some peace of mind.”
In order to become a notary public, you must be at least 18 years old, live or work in Massachusetts and complete an application, which also requires you to obtain four signatures of known and respected members of your community. If you are interested in becoming a notary public go to https://www.mass.gov/how-to/apply-to-become-a-notary-public