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.


Emergency Guidance from Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions on Remote Notarization

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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

Wisconsin.

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

time.

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.