Should I Notarize My Will Online?
4 min read

Should I Notarize My Will Online?

What are the advantages of notarizing my Will from home? Are remote notaries legal? In this article, we'll explain how remote notaries work and how they can assist you in validating your Estate Planning documents! Keep reading to learn more!

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We live in a digital age. That means traditional processes should evolve to meet the demands of a fast-paced world. Legal services and estate planning services are industries that are notoriously slow to change. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, most states relaxed their requirements that all legal documents be on paper and all transactions must happen in person. This led to the popularization of online notary public services, which are also known as "remote notaries." 

Remote notary services allow people to have their documents notarized online from the comfort of their homes or offices. This modern approach to notarization offers convenience and accessibility, making it particularly useful for estate planning documents like Wills and Powers of Attorney. In this article, we'll delve into the concept of remote notary services, exploring what they are, when they can be helpful, and how they can assist you with notarizing your estate planning documents.

 What is a Notary Public?

A notary public is a person who has been appointed by the state to perform certain legal formalities. They are called upon to witness the signing of legal documents. Notaries publicly verify the identity of the signers and witnesses. They also attest that the signers are aware of the consequences of their actions. When a document has a notary seal, courts accept the document as authentic.

What are Remote Notary Services?

Remote notary services, also known as online notarization or remote online notarization (RON), allow people to have their documents notarized by a commissioned notary public without the need for an in-person meeting. Instead of physically appearing before a notary, the process is conducted via video conference using secure online platforms like Zoom. 

To ensure the integrity of the notarization process, remote notary platforms must use security measures, including identity verification and video recording of the session. These safeguards help prevent fraud and maintain the legal validity of notarized documents.

When are Remote Notary Services Helpful?

Remote notary services can be incredibly helpful in any situation where you need a document notarized. These notaries offer convenience and efficiency, especially when it's difficult for someone to make an in-person meeting. Here are some situations where remote notary services are beneficial.

Geographic Distance:  When parties involved in a document are located in different cities, states, or even countries, remote notary services eliminate the need for them to physically meet in one location for notarization. This can be helpful when you are completing a real estate transaction, and one party is in another location, for example. This is also convenient for people who live in rural areas where it's difficult to find a notary public on short notice.

Limited Mobility: People who have limited mobility due to health issues or disabilities may find it challenging to travel to a notary's office. Remote notary services offer a solution by allowing them to complete the process from their homes. In the estate planning context, this enables elderly people to complete the process without having to rely on others for transportation.

Time Constraints: Busy professionals and people with tight schedules often appreciate the flexibility of remote notary services since they can schedule notarizations at their convenience.

Emergency and Urgent Situations: In situations where documents need to be notarized promptly, such as Health Care Proxy forms or Medical Powers of Attorney, remote notary services can expedite the process. This is particularly helpful if you are having a serious medical procedure that may leave you incapacitated for several days. You'll have greater peace of mind knowing that you can quickly execute a legal document.

Health and Safety Crises: As we saw during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are times when public places are restricted. Remote notary services provide a safer option for notarization during a health crisis, reducing the risk of exposure to illnesses.

Natural Disasters: Life doesn't stop just because of Mother Nature. When there is a natural disaster, like a hurricane or a flood, it can be difficult to access basic business services in person. Remote notaries fill this void, helping people notarize important documents, including insurance forms.

Are Remote Notary Services Secure?

Some people have safety concerns about completing forms online. But technology helps make remote notarization more secure than traditional in-person notarization. It's easier to detect errors when the system is automated. It's easier to make a mistake when you're working with paper. If you miss a signature or an initial, you often have to reprint all the paperwork and start over. This is less likely to happen when the service is remote because the system automatically flags fields that are incomplete or incorrect.

Remote notary services like OnlineNotaryCenter offer better fraud protection than in-person notaries. The remote notaries have access to technological tools that can detect fraudulent identifications more readily than someone can do in person. The National Notary Association estimates that 30 percent of notaries face pressure to break the rules or not follow state laws. With remote notarization, the notary can record the session to ensure that there is no coercion to break the rules. This is good for an estate planning consumer because it ensures that there won't be problems with the validity of the legal documents.

By recording the entire process, online notaries create a record of exactly what happened during a session. This can be beneficial if there is an allegation of fraud or coercion, which can occur when someone is making a Will or Durable Power of Attorney. If there is ever a legal dispute, the courts can review the video to detect any undue pressure.

Using a Remote Notary to Create Self-Proving Documents

With FastWill, you can write a digital estate plan from start to finish without leaving the comfort of your home. When your estate plan is complete, you can electronically sign, notarize, store, and update your documents by connecting directly with OnlineNotaryCenter to complete the process.

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