Remote Notarization Enacted Temporarily

On Monday, April 20, Governor Wolf signed S.B. 841 into law, making it Act 15 of 2020. Act 15 addresses a number of problems created by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the one of most significance to estate and trust practitioners is the new authority for remote notarizations during the pandemic.

New 57 Pa.C.S. § 5731 directs the Department of State to authorize a notary public to conduct notarial acts remotely if the notary gives notice to the department and uses a communication and identity proofing technology designated in the department’s March 25, 2020, notice on the suspension of the requirement of personal appearance.

Section 5731 goes beyond the communications technologies already approved by the department, and allows the use of other technologies if the notary gives notice to the department and the department does not for good cause prohibit the use of the technology within 30 days.

Section 5731 is also not limited to any particular kind of document, so can be used for renunciations, oaths of subscribing witnesses, and other forms of affidavits not covered by previous orders of the department.

Act 15 takes effect immediately, but the provisions for remote notarization expire 60 days after the termination or expiration of the COVID-19 disaster declaration by the Governor.

The Department of State has already updated its web page on “Electronic/Remote Notarization,” and the pages linked to that page, to reflect some of the changes made by Act 15.

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