Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has signed a new law, effective immediately, that suspends requirements that a notary public and witnesses be physically present in the same location when an estate planning document is signed. The law will remain in effect until three days after the Commonwealth’s declared State of Emergency has been lifted.
Estate planning documents such as a will, trust, nomination of a guardian or conservator, caregiver authorization affidavit, durable power of attorney, healthcare proxy or HIPAA authorization may now be executed by the maker of the document, the witnesses (if any are required) and the notary public, even if all are in different locations, by utilizing one real time electronic video conference. The maker of the document, the witnesses and the notary public must all be physically present in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. If the notary public adheres to the procedure outlined in the statute, a document will be deemed to have been properly executed, acknowledged and notarized.
For estate planning documents, remote notarization must be performed by a Massachusetts attorney who is a notary public or by a specifically trained paralegal who is a notary public and who is under the direct supervision of such an attorney.