Social distancing and other restrictions amid the coronavirus has increased awareness in electronic signatures and remote notarizations.
E-signatures are enforceable in most circumstances, and given the same legal weight as signatures provided with ink and paper. But similar to traditional signatures, an individual signing a document electronically must demonstrate an intent to sign.
This can be accomplished by, among other means, typing their name or clicking a clearly labeled button acknowledging their intent. Many e-signatures also require signers to consent to do business electronically.
It is important to remember that E-signatures do have limitations. They aren’t enforceable, for example, on deeds and some other real estate documents or legal documents related to adoption, divorce, and foreclosure notices. These documents require a traditional wet ink signature.
For more information on e-signatures, visit here.
More than a dozen states allow remote online notarization. Several others, including New York, Connecticut and Illinois, have taken actions to temporarily allow remote notarizations during the coronavirus pandemic.
Currently, California doesn’t allow notaries to do remote notarization. However, California Civil Code 1189(b) provides that any certificate of acknowledgment taken in another place shall be sufficient in California if it is taken in accordance with the law of the place where the acknowledgment is made. There are traveling notaries in the state who continue to do in-person notarizations, as well as notaries in certain banks and at places like FedEd and UPS, subject to social distancing.
Bipartisan legislation was introduced last month at the federal level that would authorize all notaries to perform remote online notarizations. The bill, Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic Notarization Act of 2020, has been referred to a Senate committee.