Remote Notarization of Estate Planning Documents

A new “temporary limited suspension” has been issued allowing remote notarization of powers of attorney, self-proving wills, and temporary guardianships during the COVID-19 emergency declaration.

As announced by the Pa. Department of State, notaries are allowed to use audio-visual communications as an alternative to personal appearances for those kinds of documents, provided the notary is an approved Pennsylvania electronic notary, uses an e-notary solution already approved by the Department of State, and indicates in the notary certificate that the notarial act was performed by means of communication technology.

Remote notarization is also allowed for advance health care directives/health care powers of attorney, living wills, and standby and temporary guardianships, for which notarization is not required but for which the Department describes notarization as “best practice.”

As previously reported, remote notarization was already allowed for certain real estate transactions.

These actions only relate to the notarization of documents, and have no effect on the requirement of witnesses, which are still required for powers of attorney, self-proving wills, and health care powers of attorney/living wills.

This most recent action by the Department of State was due in part to lobbying by the Pennsylvania Bar Association, with guidance from the Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section.

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