FAQ for Minnesota Notaries
This course is for ALL who notarize legal documents in Minnesota – Law Firms, Banks, Corporations, Hospitals, Health Care Centers, etc. It covers notarizing Powers of Attorney, Trusts, Wills, Living Wills, Health Care Directives, Corporate documents, real estate documents, etc. It describes the correct use of Notarial Certificates for affidavits and acknowledgments. The course also explains rules, prohibited acts, dealing with special circumstances, and the three different types of notarization. It covers the differences between the required notary certificates as well as laws and rules that are current under the Minnesota Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts – MN RULONA. It covers traditional notarization where the notary and signers meet in person along with the laws, rules and ethics involved as well as legal ramifications and penalties for non-compliance.
E-sign notarization, by definition, has documents signed electronically, either typed on a computer, smart phone or tablet, or written signatures (like you scribble on the pad at the department store when you sign for a purchase.) E-sign closings require the signer to physically appear before the Notary Public (not virtually via computer, phone, etc.) so there must be a face-to-face meeting. E-sign simply means that the signer signs electronically, in front of the Notary Public and the Notary adds their name electronically, and adds their authorized Electronic Notarial Seal.
Remote Online Notarization (RON)
Unlike e-sign notarization, RON signers use computers, tablets, or smart phones to virtually, not physically, communicate with a duly Commissioned Remote Online Notary Public. The signers must be able to communicate using visual and auditory communication using a RON technology company (there are many providers listed on the Secretary of State Website). The signer is asked a series of questions, known as “Knowledge Based Authentication” where they must correctly answer a series of questions, before the notary begins the process. Examples might be “What is your mother’s maiden name?” “Which of these cars have you owned?” etc. If they pass the tests from the RON Tech company, the RON takes a video of the signers, and has them hold up an ID while the signing is video-taped. The video must be maintained for ten years, which is generally a function of the Tech company that the Remote Notary choses. The RON notary must also keep a written journal of the event. With RON Closings, the signers and the notary can all be located in different physical locations, so long as the Minnesota Commissioned Notary is physically located in Minnesota when the Remote Online Notary signing occurs. The identity of the signer is established with two-way audio-video technology and credential analysis. The notary must go through a script, confirming information and asking the signers to look into the camera and show a matching photo ID, which is stored on the video recording as part of the RON process. RONs need to know the required script to accomplish a legal RON.
MN NOTARY FAQ
Q: Must Remote and Electronic Online Notaries be sanctioned by the State?
A: Yes, the notary must be licensed with the MN Secretary of State, specifically as an authorized e-Sign and/or Remote Online Notary (RON) The MN notary must first be commissioned as a traditional notary public before becoming eligible for an appointment as an e-sign notary or RON notary. See the Minnesota Secretary of State site here for information on e-sign and RON applications. E-sign notarizations only happen in person, with the notary sitting next to the signer, who types or uses a stylus to write his/her name electronically.
Q: Must a notary public be licensed as a closing agent with the MN Department of Commerce?
A: That Depends. If the RON is notarizing only non-real estate related documents such as Trusts, Wills, HealthCare Directives, Powers of Attorney, Corporate Documents, sale of personal property documents, etc., it is not necessary to hold a Closing Agent License. However, a Closing Agent License from the Minnesota Department of Commerce is a requirement, if the notary is notarizing any type of real estate documents, including deeds, mortgages, leases, options to purchase, land contracts, etc.
Q: How do I get a Closing Agent License, if needed?
A: If you need a closing agent license, application is found on the state’s site at Pulseportal.com that must be completed. Go to the site>Program is: Minnesota Department of Commerce >Board is: Real Estate> Licensing Service: Submit License Application > Entity Type: Individual> License Type: Closing Agent. You must complete the application and an eight-hour pre-license course approved by the state. State Law 82.641 The state approved 8 hour online education course and additional information can be found here: Real Estate Closing Agent Course.
Q: Can a RON or E-notary notarize anywhere in the country?
A: Yes, a RON can. However, the notary must physically be located within the state of Minnesota when remotely notarizing documents. The location of the signer/s must be within the United States, and the notary must verify the signer’s location at time of signing. That means asking the question, obtaining verbal consent, and getting the answer on the RON video recording as well as using the correct RON notary certificate to match Minnesota state recording requirements. County of Venue will be the Minnesota County where the notary physically is when acknowledging the signing. However, in the case of an electronic notarization, both the notary and the signers must be located together and physically in the state of Minnesota.
Q: Can we use RON or E-sign on all signings?
A: RON and E-sign can only be used when consent is given by all parties to the transaction. Signers must approve and consent in writing as part of the transaction. All parties may include buyers and sellers; any lenders; title company insuring the loan; and the County Recorder where the documents are to be recorded. See Minnesota Statutes or take a class!
Q: Are there Requirements for E-sign and RON Technology?
A: Yes, the RON technology vendor must meet all the MN statutory requirements under MN Statute 368.645 for identity proofing (also known as knowledge based authentication credential analysis) and electronic storage. So, the notary must choose a technology vendor that meets the standards, and must maintain an electronic journal and have an electronic seal that meets state law. E-Notaries must follow MN Statute 325L.
Q: How is the Notarization record maintained and who is responsible for it?
A: The remote online notarization recorded video must be stored and maintained by the notary or his/her employer for at least 10 years and an electronic notary journal must also be maintained. See statute. This may also be satisfied by the RON technology vendor. So check the vendor contract. See E-sign statute for requirements for E-notarization and retention of documents.
Q: What considerations are there when recording RON and E-sign real estate documents?
A: Electronic Recordings must be accepted by the Courthouse where documents are being recorded. This is very important – the county where the property is located and its jurisdiction (either Abstract or Torrens offices) must accept electronic documents for recording. If not, the more traditional notary and wet-sign paper closing process must be used. The counties accepting electronic notarization are expanding quickly, but be sure to verify this before the signing! There is a work-around, if statute. An electronic document that has been printed into “tangible form” by the notary, who adds a special acknowledgment, may be recorded in any county under state law 358.646. But check with the the county of recording to verify their process, wording for the notary certification to “paper-out” (converting electronic documents back int paper form for recording) and requirements.
RON and e-sign closings are slowly becoming accepted by the public who are used to purchasing on the internet. They can save time, travel, paper and the expense of brick and mortar notary offices. As more and more technology providers fill this need, and consumers find more and more providers online, law firms, corporations, hospitals, senior homes, banks, lenders, and others who handle legal documents, will need to meet the need and adapt. Notarizing documents will have a significantly different look and feel over the next years. More like a ZOOM meeting, than a traditional notary at the table. Professional electronic and remote Notaries, Paralegals, and Closing Agents, I expect, will soon become the norm, working from home.
Be prepared – Now is the time to become knowledgeable in Notarial Laws, and consider getting your e-Notary and RON commissions.