By Mary Ellen Flynn, Esq., 301.563.6685
Fortunately, with the passage of Governor Hogan’s emergency order, we can now have our signatures remotely notarized and without endangering our health.
Despite the stay at home order and closed businesses, individuals and businesses still need to have documents notarized. The following types of transactions and events are examples where documents need to be notarized:
- Real estate purchases
- Marital Settlement Agreements and other types of Agreements
- Withdrawals and loans from retirement funds
- Powers of Attorney so that you can appoint someone to handle your financial affairs if you were to become sick or otherwise incompetent
Lawyers and other legal service providers are essential businesses. Therefore, individuals may still legally meet with a Notary Public to get their documents notarized. However, many persons due to age, compromised health concerns, or just nervousness surrounding this very dangerous coronavirus do not want to do so, and they shouldn’t.
With the passage of an Executive Order of Governor Hogan, we no longer have to risk our health and lives by meeting with a notary in person. As per Governor Hogan’s Executive Order, we can now have documents remotely notarized by a Notary Public throughout Maryland’s state of emergency. The Remote Notary must be someone who is authorized to conduct notarizations over the internet via digital tools and an audio-video call.
Upon realizing that many of our clients and friends will need to have documents remotely notarized during the COVID 19 pandemic, I immediately applied to be authorized by the Secretary of State of Maryland to conduct remote notarizations and have been so authorized. And in fact, we have seen an increased need during these very uncertain times for notarizations due to individuals wanting to get their affairs in order.
It is important to note that electronic notarization is not the same as remote notarization. Electronic notarization, also known as e-notarization, is when the document is signed and notarized electronically. Rather than signing on paper (known as a “wet signature”), an electronic notarization is when the signer and the Notary Public sign electronically. In Maryland, electronic notarizations were already allowed and valid before the pandemic. However, they had to happen in person, with the signer and the Notary Public in the same place.
Now with Governor Hogan’s emergency order in place, notarizations can happen with the signer and the Notary Public in two different locations. Additionally, they will be valid whether it’s an electronic notarization or the signer and the Notary are signing paper documents (wet signature).
In either case, the Notary Public must witness the signing of the document via an audio-video communication. The choice of the audio-video communication technology must be approved by the Secretary of State of Maryland at the time the Notary Public is authorized to be a remote notary.
For documents to be legally valid, one must follow all remote notarization rules. As was the case with in-person notarizations, the Remote Notary Public must verify the signer’s identity either by personal knowledge or through assessing the identification credentials of the signer. The Remote Notary Public must also create and retain an audio-visual recording of the signing and the notarization. Further, the remote Notary Public must note in the notarial paragraph and in their notary log that the notarized act was performed for a remotely located individual using approved communications technology.
If you have questions or find yourself in need of an Approved Remote Notary for the State of Maryland, I am happy to assist you.
Andalman & Flynn, P.C. serves clients throughout Maryland and the District of Columbia, offering compassionate, quality service and results-driven representation across a broad range of legal areas. With a concentration on disability benefits law and family law, the firm focuses on cases that impact the rights of everyone, and they are there for clients when responsive legal help is most critical. For more information about Andalman & Flynn, please visit our website or call 301.563.6685.