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ALTA, MBA and NAR draft emergency remote notarization act

Associations push for state legislation and legal protection in the midst of the pandemic

Together with the Mortgage Bankers Association and National Association of Realtors, the American Land Title Association drafted a model emergency notarization act calling for the uniformity and legal certainty of remote notarizations.

The draft, intended to be signed and enforced by state governors, proposes the state’s legal protection of remote notarizations to preserve the public’s health and wellbeing in light of COVID-19. The order says the use of electronic documents and virtual communications satisfy the legal requirements of notarizations.

The draft’s text to be issued by governors, reads: “In order to provide citizens and businesses with a secure, safe, and legal method by which to execute important legal documents for the duration of the State of Emergency in my proclamation/executive order, providing an alternative to the in- person physical presence requirement under the current notarial process is a necessary measure to combat the COVID-19 emergency,” the order said.

ALTA’s support of RON was evident at the beginning of the pandemic when ALTA CEO Diane Tomb expressed her support for the SECURE Notarization Act, which would authorize every notary in the United States to perform RON.

As the SECURE Act is currently sitting at the introduction phase in Congress, ALTA, the MBA and NAR drafted a letter to state governors and secretaries of state pitching the proposed emergency notarization act for state enforcement.

“As we now look to the future and reopening our economy, there will continue to be a need for social distancing, especially for those at most risk from COVID-19. In light of that, the undersigned associations urge you to continue your support of the use of remote appearance for notarizations, and to ensure these temporary measures protect consumers and provide legal certainty,” the draft letter said.

According to a report by the National Notary Association, each state’s guidelines for remote notarizations vary from permanent RON laws, to temporary emergency remote authorizations. However, the combined association’s model emergency notarization act intends to perform as uniform legislation across the U.S., according to ALTA.

The model’s announcement coincides with ALTA’s recent development of principles that it says, “represent its vision for the future of remote notarization systems.”

On Thursday, ALTA released the principles outlining guidelines on digital technology options, safeguards, fraud reduction and protection of property rights in regard to remote notarizations. The principles also state remote notarizations must meet certain criteria to provide confidence in the transfer of real estate.

“Due to the COVID-19 health crisis, the need for digital transactions and use of remote notarizations has increased. We believe our principles provide a strong foundation for the use of various types of remote notarizations going forward,” said Tomb.

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