The Coronavirus has affected those who are required to travel and do business. It's possible that when the idea of remote notary transactions was being considered as a possibility to save both time and money, the notion that a virus could sideline millions of transactions (for days or even months), was not at the top of the list as one reason for States to enact their remote notary laws.
Times have changed. If a virus can keep a few thousand people (on-hold), off the coast of California, it could definitely sideline business transactions around the United States.
While so many documents require notarization, one doesn't even give notaries a second thought until they have to seek one out, present themselves (in person) to the notary, provide acceptable identification and sometimes need to make an appointment with a notary who's willing to sign off on that specific document. In some cases, notaries can (and do) refuse to put their signature on any document that raises legitimate concerns such as power of attorney documents and wills.
In some cases, notaries in banks sometimes feel as though their services are taken advantage of as in many cases they're not permitted to impose a notary fee as their employer feels this is a service to the general public. While this might be true of some financial institutions, the advent of mortgage loan closings has given rise to a new breed of notaries known as Certified Closing Agents. A closing agent can charge upwards to $150.00 (or more) for a complete closing. When one considers the average charge for an in-person notarial act is $10.00 per signature, 15 signatures required through a set a mortgage loan documents adds up quickly. One can see why many banks will not have their notaries going through a few dozen closing documents (on the banks' time), belonging to other financial institutions, hence, the need for independent Certified Closing Agents.
Notaries can not hand out legal advice, that's not their job. All documents need to be completely filled out (sans the signatures), before presenting them to a notary for final disposition.
So where does Coronavirus fit into this article you may ask? Right now, mortgage houses and banks are waiting for executed closing documents, employers are seeking I-9 forms back from new employees, wills, trusts, and their amendments are waiting for multiple party signatures, death certificates, true copy ID's and documents that can not wait for days or weeks (to be executed) need to be signed, sealed and delivered.
This is where Certified Remote Notary services keep America moving along! A Certified E-Notary is a bit of a hybrid. Instead of the signer and the notary meeting in-person, they meet online. No pen is necessary when the electronic signature and stamp are permitted. This is truly the time when the electronic notary can shine, as there's no need to search for hand sanitizer after the act has been completed. No need to wear a mask as those completing their notarial acts online never meet in person.
No sneezing, no handshakes, no sharing pens or even touching germ-laden surfaces!
Coronavirus (however), wherever it's spread, can't stop the millions of documents that can be uploaded, executed and delivered via the Electronic Notary. Many states now allow E-Notaries to operate within the virtual world. There are now 4+ million notaries nationwide and all of them are needed to keep America's personal and business documents flowing.
Not all notaries are certified to work within the online world. Some states require a training course to be completed, specific bond amounts and E&O Insurance. In all cases, an Electronic Notary must first become a notary and receive their commission from their respective state. So, while there are millions of notaries across the nation, not all of them are electronic notaries and truth be told; many will never accept the responsibility of becoming an E-Notary due to the associated liabilities of operating beyond an in-person notarial act.
Let's put this into perspective, as of today's date Florida has an estimated 500,000+ notaries but less than 250 Approved Remote Notaries.
In some cases, notaries are ill-informed as to what becoming an Electronic Notary entails and/or feel the expense of the insurance, bond, and certification is simply not worth the return on investment. As we move forward, access to keep America moving will be its key to continued success and those entrusted to keep the flow of documents moving across the nation (and the world) might just be your humble notary.
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