top of page

Wisconsin Emergency Guidance Allows Remote Notarization During Coronavirus Crisis

Attorney Thomas B. Burton discusses the Emergency Guidance issued by the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions which allows for remote notarizations, conducted via live video appearance until further notice to be given once the current Coronavirus crisis abates. Attorney Burton discusses this breaking development in Wisconsin law, which allows for remote notarization in the state of Wisconsin as of March 18, 2020. Attorney Burton also discusses Wisconsin Act 125, which is scheduled to become effective onMay 1, 2020, and which will allow certain documents to be notarized remotely in Wisconsin, and discusses how the current Coronavirus pandemic prompted the Department of Financial Institutions to issue emergency guidance allowing remote notarizations even before the effective date of Wisconsin Act 125.

Transcript of Video: Wisconsin Allows Remote Notarization During Coronavirus Pandemic

Friends family fellow Wisconsinites.

Today I wanted to shoot a brief video and

give you an update about some late-breaking

news in the legal world as of Friday.

So many people are familiar with notarizing

a document and traditionally you had to appear

physically before the notary public in order

to get that notary stamp on the document.

And in the legal world the financial world

the real estate world, this is a big.

Part of many documents you're signing for

instance a deed unless you sign it in front

of an attorney, it has to be notarized in

the state of Wisconsin in order to be recorded.

So for many real estate transactions there

the deed for sure needs to be notarized and other

documents as well.

So on Wednesday of last week the state of

Wisconsin issued emergency guidelines authorizing

remote notarization in the state of Wisconsin

and they put out this guidance here from the

Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions

Now basically as I said, historically in Wisconsin,

you always had to appear physically before

the notary.

However, Wisconsin had been moving towards

remote organization, in fact the beginning

of March Governor

Evers signed

Wisconsin legislation authorizing remote organization

in certain instances.

However, the it was Wisconsin Act 125, but

it wasn't supposed to go into effect until

May 1st.

So now during this coronavirus epidemic,

as you know, we're witnessing bank lobbies

are closed and traditionally a bank was

often the place you could go if you needed

a document notarized and you didn't know where

else to go but right now the bank lobbies

are closed.

Also depending on states around us many businesses

are closed so you can't physically go appear

appear in front of that notary.

Further they encouraging social distancing

so we really don't want people to have to

go to the same room to get that notarization.

So what the Wisconsin Department of Financial

Institutions has done and they're the folks

that govern the notaries in the state of


So the Secretary of State issues your license

to act as a notary when I got my notary commission

I should say it was from the Secretary of

State, but the Department of Financial Institutions

is really in charge of managing it all.

So they put out emergency legal guidance on

March 18th from the legal counsel and they're

saying that during

this coronavirus crisis, they're going to

allow remote notarization to occur.

So it says the key takeaway here is therefore

until further notice to be given once this

crisis abates

for documents requiring notarization, the

Department will construe the statutory terms

appear before and presence to include appearances

by remote live video and audio connection.

So that's the key in the law, we always define

the term appear to mean physically present

and they're saying they're going to construe

it to include remote notarizations during this


So what does this mean?

So we're in this period where we had passed

the law but it wasn't supposed to go into

effect until May 1st.

So the Department is basically saying they're

going to allow these notarizations during

the coronavirus crisis because so far no

one in Wisconsin had gotten set up to do the

remote notarizations because May 1st was

the effective date.

So other states have already adopted remote

notary laws.

In fact, one of the first was Virginia in

Virginia has been doing it for a few years.

So what you can do during this time is you

can use a notary licensed in another state

that allows remote notarization and you can appear

before them via live video chat like this

and do the notarization.

They will do the notarization for you.

And under the Wisconsin Constitution, each

state recognizes the laws of each other.

And in fact Wisconsin has a statute 706.07(4)(a) that says notarial acts

performed by an out-of-state notary public

have the same effect under the law as if performed

by an in-state one.

So what that means is if you have a Wisconsin

legal document or Wisconsin deed or document

that needs a notary seal.

Traditionally, you would usually notarize

it here in Wisconsin.

However, even in the past

If you had something like a Wisconsin deed and

let's say you were in Florida and needed to

sign the deed they would send it down to you

in Florida and you would go appear before

a Florida notary public

Sign it there in front of the notary public

and send it back.

So this is the same system where now you can

use a remote notary licensed under another

another state to do that remote notarization.

Now due to the emergency guidance Wisconsin

notaries like myself are going to be allowed

to do these remote notarizations as well.

But since this just happened on Friday

I'm not aware of anyone yet who's up and running

to do it with the video conferencing software

because you need to use the special software

to verify people's ID like the driver's license

passport or other form of identification.

So for now if you're in a situation where

you need a document notarized like for example,

a real estate closing that's coming up soon.

I would suggest you look into this emergency

guidance from the Wisconsin Department of

Financial Institutions, and I'm going to post

a link to the memo they posted below this

video because they will update that guidance

in factit was issued on the 18th, but they just updated

it Friday.

That's why I'm putting together the video


And they list in here two providers commercial

providers that are currently doing the remote

remote notary with notaries licensed in other states.

One is and another is , but you can see those in the memo.

And they'll have the list of providers but

if I were you for now I would if I needed

a document done fast, I would just do it through

one of those providers and use a notary that's

that's set up in another state and has been doing

this for a while and then I think over the

next couple of weeks you'll see some Wisconsin

Notaries get the technology set up to do it

as well

assuming the crisis continues.

Now one more note about Wisconsin Act 125

that Act specifically excluded certain legal

documents from remote notarization and some

of those documents were administration of

oaths and depositions, creation and execution

of wills, codicils, or testamentary trusts, and

the creation of living trusts or trust amendments

for personal use, the creation and execution

execution of powers of attorney or the creation and

execution powers of attorney for healthcare.

Living wills and authorizations for use of

protected health care information.

So they excluded a lot of things from the

remote notarization and in my opinion, I think

they should revisit that and look at including

those things but back when this legislation

was being drafted if it was pre coronavirus crisis

so my sense is they were trying to dip their

toe into the remote notarization and I think

they were looking at it mainly for real estate


But if you need one of those legal documents

notarized right now

I think the solution there's some question

amongst us lawyers discussing whether this

emergency guidance from the Department of

Financial Institutions can authorize it for

those specific estate planning documents.

So what I would do is talk to your lawyer

first and get their advice but I would also

if you have time error on the side of caution

and set up that remote notarization with a

with a notary licensed in another state because

we do have that statute Wisconsin

Statute 706.07(4)(a)

saying that has the full force and effect

so if you really need for example a financial

power of attorney done right now.

Let's say you've got a relative in a nursing

home and they aren't allowed to have anyone

in right now and I have clients in that situation.

I think traditionally you would try to get

the mobile notary or the lawyer to come to

them and witness them

do the power of attorney, but right now I

think I would look into that notary option

where we use

a notary in another state There's

also nuances with that, you don't strictly

have to have a notary on a financial power

of attorney, but it's what has become common

in the state of Wisconsin and there's some

statutory language saying if it's notarized

it's presumed valid.

So if you're in one of those types of situations

contact me my office, we'll talk about the

facts specifically but broadly if you need

some document notarized I would look into


those providers the Department of Financial

Institutions is listing because this.

Is a way you can do it via webcam just like

this live remote notarization.

And I think DFI said in their guidance

at least a couple of these providers, it's

a charge of like $25 so you know, it might

be a little bit more than you were used to

paying for the in-person, but if it's something

pressing it's definitely worth it.

And also during the coronavirus crisis, if

you do have someone who's feeling ill for

any reason, I think they want to utilize this

remote notary method because it's going to

be hard to find.

a notary who will want to go in the room with


So the remote is the answer because then no

germs are exchanged they can stay where they

are in their home following the government's

directives on social distancing and the notary

remote notary can be safe in their office

or home or wherever they're providing the


So again, this remote notary

guidance from Wisconsin Department of Financial


in my opinion is a game-changer and it's a


Example of government acting quickly to adapt

in these times of crisis.

Now today many of you know, I have a YouTube

channel with question and answer on common legal

topics and such but today because of this

late-breaking news I wanted to post this video

on my personal channels and I'll probably

later get to posting it on my law firm YouTube

channel as well, but I want to try to get

some of this information out to the public

so if you're in that situation, you can share

it with friends.

And find it useful so feel free to share this

video amongst your friends, if you think it's

a situation there in and specifically I'm thinking

of people in the midst of a real estate transaction

where this could be really useful right now

and keep it going because as we progress here

in Wisconsin, I'm hopeful we don't have to

go to the situation where other states are

completely shutting down businesses, but if

we do get to that then this remote notarization

is also going to be really key to keeping

things like that moving during this

social distancing phase

So I wanted to share this video today, you'll

notice our backdrop today is the Wisconsin

State Capitol the rotunda because of the topic

of this video being this emergency guidance

from the Wisconsin Department of Financial

Institutions, and now I can say in my years

of practice as a lawyer, I've never seen

anything in the law react this fast to

current events and I think it's a good thing

and it's going to offer more options to people

to keep these different legal documents and

transactions on track.

So again, I'm going to post the link to that

emergency guidance in this video.

If you have questions about something specific,

you can always shoot me a message directly

or to my email and I'll try to help you out

with that your specific facts, but I would

also like you to just be aware of this and also

people in the real estate industry contract.

financial, banks, financial institutions,

a lot of them are need that notarization done

and this is going to be a great new tool

during this time to get the remote notarizations


Now if there's updates I'll try to provide

updates as I can on here as well you might

want to follow my law firm page because I

do try to post the video updates there for

sure my blog and YouTube channel, but I wanted

to get this out as soon as I could so folks

could have the information and

utilize it as we go into this next coming

business week.

So thanks for watching, be safe and stay well

and we'll see you next time.

© 2020 Burton Law LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Transcript and captions provided for ease of access for the hearing impaired.

For questions about this topic, or to suggest a topic for a future blog post, please contact my office.

40 views0 comments


bottom of page