As noted in Leech Tishman’s April 13 update, the Pennsylvania Senate has still not passed either House Bill 1564 nor Senate Bill 1097. At this point, Senate Bill 1097 has the best chance of passing, but the timeframe and likelihood for passage of a permanent notary law remains unclear.
While those two permanent remote notarization bills bobbled through the Pennsylvania legislature, the Department of State issued an order on April 2, 2020 under the Emergency Management Services Code allowing remote, electronic notarization limited to estate planning documents in light of the COVID-19 crisis.
Following that, on April 15, 2020 the Pennsylvania Senate passed a new Act 15 (Senate Bill 841) including a temporary authorization of remote notarization. The House passed the bill April 16 and it was signed into law by Governor Wolf on April 20. The temporary authorization ends 60 days following the end of the COVID-19 disaster declaration which began March 6, 2020.
Under Act 15 and beginning April 20, remote notarization is authorized for every record which may be completed as required as part of conducting a life-sustaining business under the Governor’s order. Since non-life-sustaining businesses are closed, documents for conducting those types of businesses are not authorized.
To complete remote notarization under Act 15, the following are required:
- The notary must notify the Department of State via online form,
- The notary and the person signing must both be located in Pennsylvania,
- The notary must use communication technology (video and audio) to communicate with the signor which is recorded and kept by the notary for ten (10) years,
- The notary must identity of the signatory based on either:
- Personal knowledge,
- Testimony of a credible witness, or
- Using two identity-proving technologies or services, which may include asking questions that only the true individual would be able to answer correctly or analyzing identification cards
- The notary must use technology that enables the identification of the signed record as the same record being signed by the remote signor. This can be accomplished using electronic records or signatures created using tamper-evident technology or by the exchange of hard copies,
- The notary acknowledgement must disclose that the notarization was conducted using communication technology. An example of such an acknowledgment follows. The county of the acknowledgment should reflect the county of the location of the notary.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA:
COUNTY OF: ______________________
On this _____ day of April, 2020, before me, a Notary Public, the undersigned officer, appeared________________, known to me to be the person whose name is subscribed to the foregoing document or identified by _______________ and ___________________, who acknowledged the execution of the same for the purposes therein contained. This Notarial Act involved the use of communication technology as authorized by the April 20, 2020 Order of the Department of State.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I hereunto set my hand an official seal.
My commission expires:
Should you have any questions regarding your estate planning or remote execution of legal documents, please contact Matt Rak, Dave DelFiandra, or another member of the Leech Tishman Estates & Trusts Practice Group.
Matthew Rak is a Partner with Leech Tishman and a member of the Estates & Trusts Practice Group and Taxation and Energy Groups. He also is Chair of the Nonprofit Organizations Group. Matt is based in the Pittsburgh office and can be reached at 412.261.1600 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
David J. DelFiandra is a Partner with Leech Tishman and Chair of the Estates & Trusts Practice Group. He is also a member of the Taxation Practice Group and the Nonprofit Organizations Group. Dave is based in the Pittsburgh office and can be reached at 412.261.1600 or email@example.com.