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.
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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
However, Wisconsin had been moving towards
remote organization, in fact the beginning
of March Governor
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
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
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
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
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
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 Notarize.com and another is Notarycam.com , 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
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
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
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.