On March 18, 2020, the New Jersey Assembly passed a bill to authorize remote notarization of documents by a notary public using communication technology. This bill passed by a vote of 63-0 in the Assembly and 34-0 in the Senate the very next day. A-3864was sponsored by Assemblywoman Joann Downey (D-Monmouth), Eric Houghtaling (D-Monmouth), and Lisa Swain (D-Bergen, Passaic). S-2299is the Senate’s version of the bill.
Under this legislation, a notary public would have the power to notarize a document executed by a remotely located New Jersey resident so long as the notary has:
● Personal knowledge of the individual’s identity;
● Satisfactory knowledge of the person’s identity by oath or affirmation from a credible witness; and,
● Uses at least two different types of identity as proof to obtain satisfactory evidence of the person.
It is important to note that an audiovisual recording of the act of notarization must be made and retained by the notary public for at least 10 years. In other states, there is software that is already available to facilitate remote notarization. Now that the bill has passed both chambers of the NJ Legislature, it will head to the desk of Governor Phil Murphy. Upon his approval, the changes should take immediate effect.
Since current real estate closings require in-person notarization, the physical presence of the parties involved along with the notary are required in order to obtain “wet” ink signatures on both legal and financial documents.
As a residential real estate attorney, I am excited that our state legislature supports remote notarization. Remote notarization will ensure that the general public and real estate professionals involved in real estate closings will be safe in the midst of the current coronavirus pandemic.