Remote Online Notarization Coming (Again)!

With the passage of NC House Bill 776, North Carolina joins 37 other states in adopting rigorous RON (Remote Online Notarization) policies. This brings the end to end security measures and accurate closing procedures that lenders and other industry stakeholders demand, while offering the convenience and safety customers desire.

The process revolves around the software platform, one of the most common being Pavaso. This swiss-army knife solution combines the teleconferencing abilities of Zoom with document management and signing capabilities of Docusign and adds encryption and recordkeeping and identification verification. This special suite of tools works together to solve the hardest problem with online notarizations: how do you move the notary, the historic pinnacle of trust and integrity, into an online system with all of its vulnerabilities?

The idea is to require live video during the signing, to recreate the personal appearance traditionally required. With ubiquitous cell phones and laptops each bearing front facing cameras, and the use of which has erupted in everyday workflows since the start of the pandemic, this technology has reached the maturity needed to assure companies a good customer experience. The cameras also allow the software to collect and verify proper identification and save that information with every notarization.

Once the signer is verified and live on camera, the notary can review the documents with the customer and then when they’re ready, witness their signing, just like they could do in person. One benefit of doing it in software is the customer needs only sign once and can hit a button and apply the signature to all the fields. This cuts a potentially tedious signing, if there is a hundred-plus pages in a mortgage closing for example, into a task that takes only moments. Additionally, it cuts the chances of mistakenly missing a signature or initial line since all those fields can be easily prepopulated. Electronic copies are available instantly to provide to the customer, all from the comfort of their own home or office. Even international customers in some circumstances will be able to close in North Carolina without having to travel here.

Lenders and insurance underwriters require the assurance notarization provides because they are guaranteed that the person who signed their documents is the person they are lending to. The personal appearance and identification requirements are key then, which the RON software is meant to satisfy. Also key to the industry are that the documents and signatures are authentic. Traditionally, this is fulfilled by signing actual paper with actual ink and physically stamping or embossing them. When documents are not printed, however, companies demand their documents are sealed and watermarked with the metadata information regarding their signing. The RON software digitally locks the documents once signed and prevents any further tampering or alteration, effectively authenticating them even better than as if they were printed. This saves trees and ink, and allows perfect transmittal for immediate filing and recording.

Since the start of the pandemic, over a dozen states have passed RON legislation. North Carolina’s does not take effect until July 1, 2023, to allow the Secretary of State to iron out the specifics. Until then, the state is back under the Emergency Video Notarization law, which allows notaries to witness signing of physical documents, not in an electronic form, over a videoconference. One would hope that the full measures could be granted while people still may feel uncertain about meeting in person, but the future is only a matter of time away. Until we are allowed to offer complete remote electronic notary services, Law Firm Carolinas will do everything we can to accommodate your closing or estate signing needs.

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