Is it Legal to Notarize Your Will From Home?
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Is it Legal to Notarize Your Will From Home?

Can you notarize an Estate Plan on a Zoom call? Is my Will still legally valid? In this article, we'll outline what you should know before notarizing your Will online! Keep reading to learn more!

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Traditionally, notarization required a physical presence in front of a notary public to verify the authenticity of documents and witness signatures. However, in recent years, technological advancements have led to the emergence of remote notary services. These services allow people to have their documents notarized online, providing convenience and flexibility. In this article, we'll explore what you can expect when you use a remote notary service, including the benefits, the process, and important considerations for people drafting their Wills.

1. Convenience and Accessibility

One of the most significant advantages of using a remote notary service is the convenience it offers. Instead of scheduling an in-person appointment and traveling to a notary's office, you can complete the notarization process from the comfort of your own home or office. This convenience is especially valuable for individuals with mobility challenges, people with busy schedules, and individuals located in remote areas where access to a traditional notary may be limited.

2. Identity Verification

Before the notarization process begins, you will need to verify your identity. Remote notary services typically use a combination of methods to ensure you are who you claim to be. This may include presenting government-issued identification, answering security questions, and utilizing facial recognition technology. Expect to provide the necessary identification and cooperate with the identity verification process.

3. Video Conference

The core of remote notarization involves a video conference with a commissioned remote notary public. During the video call, you'll be required to present your identification and any documents that need notarization. The notary will confirm your identity, witness you signing the document, and add their electronic seal and signature to the document. You should expect a secure and private video conference environment during this process. Typically remote notary services use Zoom or other stable and private video conferencing systems.

4. Document Preparation

Before the video conference, you should have your documents prepared and ready for notarization. It's crucial to review the requirements of the remote notary service you're using and ensure that your documents are in the correct format. Be prepared to share the documents with the notary electronically during the video call, either by uploading them to the platform or by email.

5. Communication

Effective communication is key to a successful remote notarization. Ensure you have a reliable internet connection and a compatible device with a working camera and microphone. During the video conference, follow the notary's instructions carefully, as they will guide you through the process. If you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to ask the notary for clarification.

6. Recordkeeping

Remote notaries are required to maintain records of their notarizations, just like traditional notaries. Expect the remote notary to keep a digital record of the notarization, including copies of the signed documents and the video recording of the session. This recordkeeping is essential for maintaining the integrity and legality of the notarization process.

7. Fees

Remote notary services may charge fees for their services. These fees can vary depending on the service provider and the complexity of the notarization. It's important to inquire about the cost upfront and understand what is included in the fee. Some services may offer a pay-per-use model, while others may have subscription plans.

8. Compliance with State Laws

Notary laws vary from state to state, and not all states have adopted remote notarization. If you plan to use a remote notary service, ensure that it complies with the laws of your state. Some states have specific regulations governing remote notarization, while others may not recognize it as valid. Always verify the legal requirements in your jurisdiction.

9. Document Retention

After the notarization process is complete, you should receive a copy of the notarized document with the notary's electronic seal and signature. It's essential to retain this copy for your records, as it serves as proof of notarization. Additionally, the notary will retain their own records, as mentioned earlier.

10. Timeliness

Remote notarization can often be completed more quickly than traditional in-person notarization, thanks to the flexibility of online scheduling. However, the time it takes can vary depending on the service provider's availability and the complexity of the notarization. It's a good practice to schedule your remote notarization well in advance of any deadlines to ensure a smooth and timely process.

11. Legal Recognition

While remote notarization is becoming increasingly accepted and recognized, it's important to be aware that not all institutions accept documents notarized remotely. Before using a remote notary service for critical documents, such as real estate transactions or legal contracts, check with the relevant parties or organizations to ensure they will honor remote notarizations. FastWill works directly with OnlineNotaryCenter to help you notarize your Will and estate documents because the notaries at OnlineNotaryCenter know the legal requirements for each jurisdiction.

12. Security and Privacy

Remote notary services prioritize security and privacy to protect your sensitive information. They use secure, encrypted communication channels and adhere to strict privacy protocols. Be sure to check that the service you choose follows industry-standard security practices to safeguard your data.

Remote Notary Services With FastWill

Remote notary services offer a modern and convenient way to have your documents notarized, saving you time and effort. When using such services, expect a streamlined process that includes identity verification, a video conference with a remote notary, and secure recordkeeping. Be sure that you comply with your state's notary laws, retain copies of the notarized documents, and communicate effectively with the notary during the process. FastWill works directly with OnlineNotaryCenter to help you notarize your Will by simply clicking on a Zoom link when you complete your Will. Then, you and your witnesses will meet with a notary public who will take you through the steps toward notarization in your jurisdiction.

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