New York Allows Remote Notarization of Trusts, Wills and Related Documents

As of February 25, 2022, New York State has joined several other states making it legal for notaries to perform Remote Online Notarization (RON). Remote notarization was temporarily authorized by Executive Order 202.7 in March 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, but Governor Hochul has signed Senate Bill 1780C into law, making this permanent. The law does not go into effect until June 20, 2022, but interim measures are in place to allow RON between now and June.

Elder law attorneys and their clients must follow specific procedural rules to ensure the validity of the signatures are valid. It assures the notarization is proper and there is no fraud or foul play.

The notary public must be physically in New York State to notarize documents. The notary must identify the person signing the document, called the “Principal,” using any of these three methods:

  1. The notary’s knowledge of the person signing the document,
  2. Communication technology that facilitates remote presentation by the signer of an official, an acceptable form of identification, credential analysis, and identity proofing, or,
  3. By oath or affirmation of a credible witness who knows the signer and who is known to the notary or identified by the referenced means of communication.

The notary must be able to see and interact in real-time with the Principal. The notary must maintain the recording and a backup copy of the remote notarization for at least ten years. The notary will also need to maintain copies of the identification used.

The person will need to answer four out of five knowledge-based authentication questions, similar to those who log into a website.

Once the Principal has executed the document, they must send the original document to the notary public. The notary must then confirm the document is the document signed by the Principal. The notary then signs and stamps the original. New York State also requires the notary to add this language to the jurat:

“This remote notarial act involved the use of communication technology.”

To perform RON services, the notary must register with the NY Department of State (DOS). They must put into place credential analysis to validate the authenticity of the Principal’s government-issued identification and identity proofing third-party confirmation of the Principal’s identity. The DOS has until January 31, 2023, to create an online registration system for notaries.

Our office has been using RON for clients during the pandemic, and we have found it extremely helpful, especially when clients cannot get to our office or live or work far away. If you have questions about this new procedure, please call us, and we will be happy to answer any of your questions.