The prevalence of digital technology, the trend to reduce paperwork, the goal to save time and money and the need to increase security have converged in the growth in e-notarizations. And the momentum is growing. National organizations are increasingly endorsing e-notarizations and remote notarizations, and their uses are spreading.

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The prevalence of digital technology, the trend to reduce paperwork, the goal to save time and money and the need to increase security have converged in the growth in e-notarizations. And the momentum is growing. National organizations are increasingly endorsing e-notarizations and remote notarizations, and their uses are spreading.

All states are authorized to accept some form of e-notarization in conformance with the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) which was approved in 1999 by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Law (NCCUSL) as an overlay statute to help reconcile conflicting state laws. The Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce (ESIGN) Act was passed in 2000 by the federal government and grants legal recognition to electronic signatures and records if all parties to a contract choose to use electronic documents and to sign them electronically, and it also supports e-notarization.

E-notarization adoption, particularly remote notarization, is poised to gain even more traction in 2017. Remote notarization takes e-notarization a step further by using modern technology to expand the definition of “in the presence of” the notary, which is a foundational requirement of notarization in all state laws.

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Last summer, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Quicken Loans endorsed remote notarization for their mortgage closings. This was quickly followed by the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) approving an amendment to the Revised Law on Notarial Acts (RULONA), which allows notaries in an enacting state or jurisdiction to perform remote notarizations for signers outside the U.S. for certain documents. The ULC also approved a drafting committee for an amendment that would allow remote notarizations for signers in the U.S.

While “in the presence of” had been traditionally interpreted as meaning “physically in the same place,” some forward-thinking states and organizations have recognized that technology allows people to be virtually in the presence of each other without requiring physical proximity.

shutterstock_325899806A remote notarization includes all the formalities of a traditional paper transaction, except that the notary and the signer are linked together by real-time, audio-video communications. That means signers and notaries have the freedom and convenience to complete transactions from wherever they happen to be, and the capability is revolutionizing many industries.

Plus, the process is actually more secure and legally defensible than wet ink signatures, thanks to authentication methods and audio-video recordings.

Knowledge of this digital process expands and widespread acceptance of e-notarization grows across industries, we can expect to see e-notarization and remote notarization become more prevalent, especially in the mortgage industry.

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