By Harry S. Margolis
Editor's Note: April 23rd, the Massachusetts legislature (finally) passed a bill to permit remote notarization and witnessing of legal documents during the coronavirus pandemic—the 45th of the 50 states to take this step. It didn’t happen without a bit of last minute drama. The Senate passed its bill on Tuesday, April 21st. On Thursday, the House passed a similar bill, but added the requirement that all remote document execution sessions be recorded and the recording saved for 10 years. Fortunately, the Senate then quickly approved the House’s version of the bill. Now we just await Gov. Baker’s signature.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, a bill to allow online notarization and witnessing of documents during the shutdown has been wending its slow way through the Massachusetts legislature. It was first slowed down by different constituencies seeking tweaks in the law. The first proposal only permitted attorneys and paralegals to do online notarizations, but a revised bill expands this to non-attorney or paralegal notaries. As reported in The Boston Globe, it has the support of a wide constituency, including lawyers, the real estate industry, and investment companies, such as Fidelity. But still the bill languishes.