Remote Notarization and Remote Ink-Signed Notarization in Wisconsin During COVID-19

In March of 2020, Wisconsin enacted into law Remote Online Notarization (RON) to be effective May 1, 2020. With RON, notaries no longer have to physically be in the same location to witness people signing documents. Using approved online audio-visual technology, documents can be signed before a notary and submitted electronically.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the “Emergency Guidance on Remote Notarization” was issued on March 20, 2020. The emergency rule allows document to be notarized remotely online through approved providers such as Notarize, NotaryCam, and DocVerify (or Pavaso and Nexsys for real estate transactions). RON should enhance the ability for individuals and businesses to acknowledge documents necessary for many real estate, business, and other legal transactions.

It is important to note that remote notarization does not apply to Wisconsin estate planning documents such as wills, codicils, powers of attorney, testamentary or living trusts, or trust amendments. RON also cannot be used for marital property agreements or for the authorization for use and disclosure of medical or health information.

Remote Ink-signed Notarization is different than RON

Some lenders, such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, have reduced requirements for notarial acts as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This flexibility has allowed many transactions to employ a notarial act call “Remote Ink-signed Notarization” (RIN). Using RIN, the person signing the document and the notary do not have to be in the same place, however, the physical paperwork is the same.

RIN can be accomplished as follows:

  1. The paper documents are sent to the borrower for signature.
  2. The notary will examine the government-issued identification of the borrower through audio-visual technology.
  3. The notary uses the same audio-visual technology to witness the borrower signing the paperwork with wet ink.
  4. The borrower returns the ink-signed paperwork to the notary via U.S. Mail or another delivery service, or through an in-person drop-off.
  5. After receipt of the signed paperwork, the notary affixes their notary seal to the paperwork.

Permitting documents to be signed this way allows transactions to continue during social distancing orders in Wisconsin. Borrowers should reach out to their lenders to determine if they can use RIN for signing loan documents. Lenders should consider adopting RIN, at least temporarily, to permit transactions to continue to close.

Interested in becoming a remote notary?

Wisconsin notaries can now become certified to as a remote notary and use registered audio-visual technology. If you are interested in becoming a remote notary, visit the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) website to learn how to become registered.

DFI maintains a list of the approved technology to use for RON acknowledgments, as well as approved online notaries.

See here for additional information.

Wisconsin attorneys assisting with remote documentation and contracts during COVID-19

The attorneys at Murphy Desmond S.C. are familiar with remote notarization and wet-inked notarization processes in Wisconsin. We are able to assist you with your contract needs and all of your legal transactions. Contact us at 608.257.7181. We maintain offices in Madison, Janesville, Appleton, and Dodgeville, Wisconsin.

Published April 21, 2020

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