Online Remote Notarization Keeps Real Estate Transactions Moving Forward

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Washington allows real estate documents to be executed by e-signatures rather than wet-ink signatures.  However, many real estate related documents require notarization.  The ability of individuals to properly execute deeds, deeds of trust, long-term leases, easements, covenants and other real estate documents requiring notarizing, has become increasingly difficult under the COVID-19 social distancing orders and Governor Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Health” Proclamation 20-25.

In response, Governor Inslee has issued a proclamation designed to help real estate transactions move forward. Through April 26,2020 (unless further extended by the legislature), the state permits remote online notarization.

More specifically, the Act allows notaries to remotely and electronically acknowledge the execution of documents, i.e., allows a notary to notarize a document without being in the physical presence of an individual when he/she executes the document. In order to properly notarize a document under the Act, several requirements must be met:

  • The remote individual must:
    • Use communication technology, with sight and sound, to appear before the notary
  • The notary must:
    • Possess an electronic records notary public endorsement from the Department of Licensing allowing the notary to electronically notarize documents
    • Notify the director of the Department of Licensing that the notary will be acknowledging documents electronically and remotely and of the technologies to be used
    • Have personal knowledge of the identity of the remote individual, have satisfactory evidence of such identity from a witness before the notary providing a sworn statement, or have satisfactory evidence of such identity by using two types of identity proofing
    • Be reasonably able to confirm that the record executed by the remote individual is the same before the notary
    • Create an audio and visual recording of the performance of the notarial act and retain the recording for at least 10 years
    • Indicate on the certificate of notarial act that the notarization was done with the use of communication technology

Moving towards remote electronic notarization will allow real estate documents to be executed more quickly and with much greater ease.  While the Governor’s order to authorize remote notarizations expires on April 24, 2020, a new law authorizing them on a permanent basis will take effect on October 1, 2020.

Please contact one of Helsell Fetterman’s Land Use and Real Estate attorneys with any questions or if you would like to learn more.

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