New Law Allows Remote Notaries; Make Estate Planning Easier

Governor Inslee issues order permitting documents to be notarized remotely.

For a limited period of time, notaries have the ability to electronically notarize documents without having the signor physically in the notary’s presence. This policy is in the interest of social distancing and is a significant benefit to those who want to execute a Will, power of attorney, or other official document, yet follow the social distancing guidelines outlined by state and federal authorities.

The Washington State Legislature passed SB 5641 last year, which authorizes an electronic records notary public to perform a notarial act on behalf of a remotely located individual who is not in the notary's physical presence. This bill is due to go into effect in October of this year. However, because of the social distancing precautions in place, the activities authorized by this bill are needed now, not in five months. Hence, the governor’s proclamation.

To perform a remote notarization, a notary must use a communications technology, such as an electronic device, allowing the notary to simultaneously communicate with the remote individual in both sight and sound. The notary may perform a notarial act for a remote individual if the notary:

· has personal knowledge or satisfactory evidence of the identity of the remote individual;

· is able to confirm that the record before the notary is the same as the record before the remote individual;

· creates an audio-visual recording of the notary act; and

· the record relates to a matter before an entity subject to the jurisdiction of the United States for a remote individual located outside of the United States.