Under current Massachusetts law, estate planning documents require in-person notarization and two (2) in-person witnesses. With social distancing, individuals are prevented from signing estate planning documents during the COVID-19 state of emergency. A bill, referred to as the “Notary Bill,” is in development within the Massachusetts legislature. This bill allows for remote notarization of conveyancing and estate planning documents during the COVID-19 state of emergency.
A copy of the original bill filed by Senator Tarr on Friday, March 20, is on the legislature’s website (https://malegislature.gov/Bills/191/SD2882). Some changes have been made to the bill. We will provide more details once we have confirmation of the final text of the bill as filed.
If enacted as published, the bill will grant powers to Massachusetts notaries public who are either licensed attorneys or a paralegal under direct supervision by a Massachusetts licensed attorney, to notarize documents utilizing electronic video conferencing in real time, to supervise signings with virtual witnesses as though they are physically present, and to execute documents in counterparts. These powers can only be used if everyone participating in the signing conference are physically present in Massachusetts.
We ask for your help in appealing to your representatives in Massachusetts legislature to consider the urgency of the bill. To search for your representatives and senators, go to: https://malegislature.gov/Search/FindMyLegislator