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Apr 27, 2020 | Blog

Massachusetts Emergency Remote Authorization Act to Address Challenges Related to COVID-19


Many of our clients are anxious about having a health care proxy, durable power of attorney or other estate plan measure in place at this time. While the attorneys and staff of Wilchins, Cosentino & Novins, LLP have been busy working remotely with clients to draft these documents, the logistics of properly executing, witnessing, and notarizing the documents safely have been complicated by social distancing guidelines.

Fortunately, on April 27, 2020, Governor Baker signed into law an Act that establishes a process by which Massachusetts attorneys and their paralegals, who are already notaries, can notarize such documents during the current state of emergency if the notarization is not taking place in person. The Act is effective immediately, and will terminate three business days from the end of the state of emergency.

Once documents are finalized, we will transmit them to the client via email, fax, regular mail or courier. The attorney and client will then have a private video meeting during which the attorney will conference in a notary and witnesses, who can all be at separate locations in Massachusetts. The client, as well as any witnesses, must show the notary his or her identification, swear that he or she is in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, consent to being recorded, and disclose the identity of any other persons in the room.

After signing the original document on camera in view of the notary (and in view of witnesses, when required) the client will mail or otherwise transmit the original document to the notary who can will affix his or her notarial seal and signature. The witnesses will sign the document separately and transmit the original signed pages to the notary as well, along with copies of their government issued identification cards. The document is complete when the notary compiles all original signature pages and completes a separate affidavit.

Documents pertaining to the transfer of an interest in real estate such as deeds and mortgages may also be executed remotely. However, a second video conference will be required to verify that the documents received by the notary are the same as those signed on camera, before such documents may be recorded at the appropriate Registry of Deeds. Both video conferences will be retained by the notary for a period of ten years.

We are happy to be able to provide our clients with this convenient and efficient service to update their estate plans and record real estate related documents without leaving the safety of their homes.

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