Notaries

E-NOTARIZATION VS. DISTANCE E-NOTARIZATION

Did you know

E-Notarization has been here for some time
Effective July 1, 2006, the Minnesota Legislature enacted electronic notary legislation pursuant to Minnesota Statutes 358 and 359, allowing electronic notarization to be applied to a document so that the document can be fully processed electronically.
To apply for e-Notarization, applicants must be currently registered as an active Minnesota Notary and have the capability to notarize electronically before requesting authorization to perform electronic notarizations.
Physical presence of a person whose signature is being notarized is still required by law (359.01, subd. 5). And notarizing of any MN mortgage and/or real estate documents requires a Closing Agent License unless you fall under specific exemptions – see MSA 82.641.
Before performing electronic notarial acts, a notary public must register or in the case of a recommission, reregister, the capability to notarize electronically with the Secretary of State. There is no fee for this authorization with the secretary of State
To obtain the authorization to perform electronic notarization, complete the E-Notarization Authorization form and certify that you have proof of the filing of your notary commission with the county.

Distance E- Notarization is Coming
Generally, electronic, or e-signatures, use different methods
• In some cases, the signer can use the mouse on their computer to “write” their signature, like you do when you go to the grocery store and sign for your credit card (where it generally looks nothing like your signature;))
• In other cases, a signer types their name and choses their e-signature from an assortment of a type-sets (Script, Monotype, Bradley Hand, etc.)
• In other cases yet, the signer carefully writes his/her signature and takes a photo (likely with their cell phone) and creates a .jpg file that they can use to accurately represent their signature.
• In some cases, signers hold up their Drivers’ Licenses and other Identifying information for the notary to review
• in other cases, like the US Post Office, you must put in a credit card with identifying information
• Yet again, some systems require that you answer information as to the make of your vehicle, previous addresses, mother’s maiden name, etc. that likely come from credit reporting companies.
• Will the audio/visual session have to be taped and maintained in the notaries file to be legal?
• Can the notary keep a log instead? There is much to be worked out.
You can see examples of what’s coming in distance notarization at such places as
• Signix https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50bMl3EZkz0
• Safedocs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPd_0gtlJ_0
• DocVerify http://www.docverify.com/Products/ESignatures/ENotaries/RemoteElectronicNotarizations

Distance notarization laws are currently in effect in only two states -Virginia and Montana. In these states the signer and the notary communicate online. Documents are electronically signed and notarized with the signing parties and notary meeting with audio and video communications similar to “facetime” or “go-to-meeting.” Here, the signer of the document might physically be in New York City and the notary physically in Virginia, MN.

But these state laws vary significantly. In Virginia a notary can perform a remote apostille for a signer that is located anywhere in the world. Montana allows distance notarization only for Montana property where the affiant is a permanent Montana resident.

As industries like closing, title insuring, mortgage lending, etc. are nationwide, dealing with various laws could be challenging. In response to that, The National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) are working on distance online notarization with a task force, as are ALTA, the Minnesota Land Title Association, the MN Bar Assoc., Mortgage Bankers Association, MISMO, and others. Hopefully they can come together, soon, with a clear solution that will fit us all.

Don’t Believe Those Online e-Notarize Ads

Webcam Nptary Ad

In Minnesota and other states, electronic notarization (e-Notarization) is moving fast. But DO NOT BELIEVE THE ADS. It is complicated. Each state has its own laws, rules, and especially its own legal terminology.

In Minnesota, a notary may perform electronic notarial acts when the affiant (person signing and swearing to a true statement) physically appears before the approved e-notary and the notary is physically in the State of Minnesota at that time. The notary must have specifically applied for and been approved by the state to use that method. The e-Notarization includes all the elements of a paper document notarization except the notary uses a digital signature and seal to the document (a graphic image) instead of an ink stamp. NO webcams!

Many people confuse e-Notarization with I will refer to as webcam notarization, believing they are the same. Webcam notarization involves live, real time audio-visual technology on the Internet, and (depending on state law) the person signing a document or electronic record appears before a notary public from a different physical location. The requirement of the “presence” of a signer is satisfied via the live audio/video connection not physical location. Each state has its own rules here, and in some cases the notary must maintain a physical audio/video of the webcam notary for a period of years. The audio/video is property of the notary and NOT that of the company the notary may work for.

Documents notarized in states allowing webcams ARE legal and recordable in Minnesota. They just can’t be performed in Minnesota. And remember, with a few exceptions, those who are notarizing real estate documents in Minnesota, such as deeds and mortgages require a Closing Agent License in addition to their e-notary commission, and there is a potential $10,000 fine per transaction for notarizing such documents without the license.

MN Closer Licensing Course

I’ve had many questions on the MN Closer Pre-License Course, so here are some pointers:

Pointers

Pointers

  • the 8 hour class is available online 24/7 and you have 90 days to complete it.
  • You do not need to take all 8 hours in one sitting!  Just bookmark your place and return to it later.
  • there is a minimum amount of time that must be spent on each of the 12 sections, but there is no maximum time, so spend as long as you’d like to be sure you understand the material
  • if you don’t complete a section before the minimum required time and you log out , you will have to repeat that section
  • Each section has a quiz at the end. You must pass the quiz to move on
  • the final examination requires a proctor form (someone who says they saw you take the exam without assistance of any kind.)  The proctor cannot be a spouse, relative or boss.  A neighbor, friend or public librarian (there is no charge) works fine
  • the final exam is 90 questions and you need 75% to pass.  You may spend as long as you like on the exam (but you cannot leave your desk during the exam, so the proctor knows you have not used outside materials for any answers.)
  • If you fail the exam, not to worry. You can review the material (if you wish) but must retake the quizzes to retake the exam (no extra charge.)

Mobile Notaries Require Closing Agent License

The Minnesota Department of Commerce Enforcement Division is reminding mobile notaries who explain mortgage documents, notarize deeds, collect funds and handle other tasks incidental to closing, that they are required by Minnesota Law to obtain a Closing Agent License.  The closer licenses are licenses that expire June 30th  two years after they are issued.   The online course listed above, “Principles of Closing,” satisfies the state requirement for the license.

Due Diligence Required of ALL Closing Staff

We all use auxiliary help when times are busy.  Signing agents and temporary help.  But beware; are you giving “non-employees” dangerous access to personal information that you are responsible for?

The DOJ has issued a press release regarding  a temporary employee who’s job was simply copying loan documents. In that capacity, she  stole personal  information belonging to over 250 would-be home buyers and used that information to obtain fraudulent credit cards.

Use due diligence in the hiring and overseeing of all of your help and assure they are properly licensed.   Even non-employees require oversight in the title and closing business.

Department of Justice Press Release – Temporary Help Steals Information to Get Fraudulent Credit Cards        Read article here at the Department of Justice Website

Mobile Notaries – Do You Have the Required Minnesota Closer License

Minnesota is sending out Enforcement Notices to Mobile Notaries reminding them that under Minnesota Law, those who notarize deeds, mortgages, affidavits and other documents to assist a party in buying or selling real estate in Minnesota are required to have a Closer’s Licence from the Minnesota Department of Commerce.

The primary Closer License Laws are MN Statute 507.45 and MN Statute 82.641

The Commerce Department is authorized to penalize those who are not compliant, so please be sure to obtain the proper license. More information about Closer Licensing can be found here on the Commerce Department Website.

Title Companies should also assure that any closing agents they use are duly licensed under the law.

Info On Home Closing

Home Closing 101: An Educational Initiative of the American Land Title Association