The much-anticipated remote online notarization (“RON”), is set to arrive in Florida as of January 1, 2020. Florida will join the ranks of twenty-three other states that have either passed or have pending bills that allow online notaries to perform notarizations anywhere in the world (Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington)!
Electronic notarizations have long been authorized in Florida (the signer had been required to be in the physical presence of the notary public). However, beginning not sooner than January 1, 2020 (House Bill 409 that passed on May 2, 2019 and was signed into law by Governor DeSantis on June 7, 2019), online remote notarizations will be permitted in the state of Florida (situations where the principal or any witness is not in the physical presence of the online notary public). Commencing with the start of the new year (on January 1, 2020), an online notary public who is physically located in the state of Florida, may perform an authorized online notarization whether or not the principal or any witnesses are physically located within the state of Florida at the time of the notarization. The status quo will continue to be in effect until January 1, 2020.
Many times, real estate closings involve parties that are not physically present, or cannot be physically present, at the closing table. When this occurs, a complex series of paper gymnastics takes place to get the necessary closing documents executed and returned to the closing agent. Remote online notarization has the capability of making the remote closing process less cumbersome, less costly, and with reduced chance for errors (such as missing or misplaced signatures or pages). In addition to permitting remote online notarizations, an online notary public will also be permitted to supervise the witnesses to electronic records (such as the two disinterested witnesses required for a deed in Florida).
If a currently appointed Florida notary public (there are nearly 500,000 notaries in the State of Florida), wishes to become an online notary, the notary public will need to complete a registration withthe Executive Office of the Governor, pay an online notary public application fee of$25, and submit the signed and sworn registration to the Executive Office of the Governor. Implementation rules and additional qualification requirements are in the works for adoption by the Florida Department of State, so that remote online notarizations are able to be performed by the January 1, 2020 effective date – plenty of time for closing agents, consumers, and folks in the real estate finance industry to get up to speed on this new closing tool.
There has been positive reaction to the new law by real estate professionals, including agents who focus on international investors; the new law is viewed as an opportunity to encourage more international investment in Florida. Florida also has a significant military population that might benefit from remote online notarizations. The real estate industry in Florida is about to change for the better and our firm has already set in motion the proper systems to ensure our clients will be on the forefront of this new advancement. RON gives real estate professionals the ability to distinguish themselves in the community by providing a convenient and time saving closing experience – a much needed improvement to the mail-away process now in use.
As always, should you have any questions with regard to “RON” – Remote Online Notarization, we urge you to contact one of the attorneys at Berlin Patten Ebling, or consult with your local real estate attorney, for additional guidance.
Berlin Patten Ebling, PLLC
Article Authored by Mark C. Hanewich, Esq., firstname.lastname@example.org
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