You may already know that end of life paperwork and planning documents like wills and Advance Directives need to be notarized to be official. We have to physically distance now, so is it still necessary to have legal and medical paperwork notarized?
Good news! As of April 17 2020, there are 43 states using Remote Online Notarizations (or RONs) on either a temporary or permanent basis.
What is a RON, and how is it different from an in person notary? Basically, RONs allow the notary and the person signing documents to be in different places. They’re conducted using Zoom or FaceTime, with a third party who verifies the identity of the signer.
RONs are not used only for COVID 19. Some states authorized them as early as 2010. Others followed, but many state RON laws were not yet in effect when the crisis hit. At least seven of those states – Arizona, Iowa, Maryland, Nebraska, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin – have recently issued emergency orders declaring their RON statutes to be effective immediately. (Good news for us Seattleites!)
Important fact alert: in many states, RON laws specifically exclude certain documents, including wills. These states have issued emergency orders allowing for the use of RONs on a temporary basis, probably because people suddenly got very sick with coronavirus and were admitted to hospitals with no visitors allowed, and couldn’t make or revise their will because there was no notary onsite.
While this is our best option for now, experts warn there could be consequences in that in the future, documents notarized using RONs may be subject to challenge and may not be accepted in all states and for all document types.
Be sure to check with your state for the most up to date information.
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