For the second consecutive day, an article by one of the firm’s attorneys is featured as the guest commentary column in today’s edition of the Daily Business Review, South Florida’s exclusive business daily and official court newspaper. The article by shareholder John Catalano, which is titled “New Remote Online Notary Law Brings Notarization Process Into 21st Century in Florida,” discusses the ramifications of the new Florida law authorizing the use of remote online notarization to enable signers and notaries to use audio and video communications to notarize signatures. His article reads:
. . . The remote online notary (RON) process entails the use of a live two-way video conference, such as Skype, FaceTime or Google Hangouts, to meet the statutory personal appearance requirements for notarizations. Notaries and signers will be able to see the documents on their screens during the conferences, and they must follow specific procedures for identity proofing. This includes the use of data services to have signers answer questions requiring personal knowledge, and they may also use facial recognition services.
Notaries using RON must provide a clear video recording with audio of the notarial act along with a post-execution document record, and they must also utilize a comprehensive vendor security program to help ensure data security. They will use their electronic notary seal as well as their signature to secure documents against tampering, and they must retain recordings of the video conferences for at least five years.
For property transactions, the sellers, buyers and lenders must all provide prior written consent to use the process, and additional approvals are required if the use of a power of attorney is involved. Florida law requires two witnesses for the notarization of property deeds, and these witnesses will be required to be physically present either with the notary or the signer during the conference.
The new law is being hailed by real estate attorneys and closing agents. They will no longer be required to engage notaries to produce printed paper documents and personally meet with signers for all notarizations, then deliver them to the closing agent for distribution to all the parties.
Closing agents will be able to electronically record deeds and mortgages in the official records without the use of paper copies of the documents. All the interested parties, including the notary, signer, lender, broker, attorneys, etc., will be able to receive electronic copies of the fully executed and notarized documents immediately upon their filing.
Buyers and sellers will also see benefits in terms of convenience. They will be able to connect with notaries using their smartphones, tablets or computers, and simply verify their identity by holding up the front and back of their government-issued picture ID to the camera and answering a few simple questions. They can then sign documents using their finger or a stylus on their screen and the process is complete.
Out-of-state sellers of real estate in Florida who may have difficulty executing and delivering documents to the state for a closing will obviously benefit from RON, and they will wish to include a clause in their sales agreements specifically allowing for its use. . .
Our firm salutes John for sharing his insights with the readers of the Daily Business Review about how the use of RON will affect real estate sales and acquisitions, as notarized signatures on deeds and memorandums of contract will soon be just a video conference away using any smartphone or tablet. Click here to read the complete article in the newspaper’s website (registration required).