Well, it’s happening guys. I guess it was only a matter of time, but Florida has moved one step closer to digitizing documents and we now have an electronic/remote notarization statute. I used to liken notaries to police officers, only having jurisdiction in their state. A notary was only able to notarize a document while in their home state, physically present in front of the signors. However, a 78-page bill pertaining to electronic and remote notarization and witnessing of documents was approved by the Florida governor just a few weeks ago.
Along with requirements of taking a course, providing a $25K bond, maintain an errors and omissions insurance policy and utilizing a remote online notarization (RON) service provider, the notary will be required to keep a copy of the recording of the audio-video communication relating to the notarization as well as an electronic journal of online notarizations, secured and backed up. The record will include various information about the notarization.
The new statute will allow notaries to notarize documents where the signors and witnesses are not even in the same location, completely remotely. As expected, there are special provisions for wills, trusts with testamentary aspects, health care advance directives, waivers of spousal rights, or powers of attorney documents.
Of course, the old way of doing things is still valid, and it remains to be seen how widespread the use of electronic notarization and witnessing (as well as the resulting fraud and other problems) will be. My thoughts are that taking a fairly straightforward process such as notarization, and subjecting it to additional rules, regulations, costs, and new business interests, suggests that the old way may be the better way, especially as to testamentary documents. But I recognize that I have an old brain weary of change. Either way, once the dust settles and e-notarization has been rolled out efficiently, we’ll be sure to update our processes to include the convenience in our office.
Read the new law here (https://flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2019/409/BillText/er/PDF)