By Joseph E. Tierney IV and Lawrence J. Glusman
Governor Evers signed Assembly Bill 293 earlier this month, permitting parties in Wisconsin to allow the performance of notarial acts using audio-visual technology for remotely located individuals.
In other words, a notary public in Wisconsin now does not need to be in the same room as the person for whom they are performing a notarial act – if the requirements of this new law are met.
This is an important development for brokers, developers, notaries, real estate and finance lawyers and others who routinely engage in transactions requiring a notary.
The adoption of Chapter 140 of the Wisconsin Statutes heralds the arrival of Remote Online Notarization, or RON, in Wisconsin. RON takes advantage of online technological advances to allow individuals to acknowledge documents for real estate closings and other business and legal processes, and should operate in tandem with other electronic real estate-closing processes and applications. For real estate professionals, this eliminates or reduces one of the last remaining hurdles to closing a transaction remotely. With the potential to notarize documents remotely, the timing of a real estate closing no longer has to be based on physical location.
The law adopts the structure of the latest uniform law on notarial acts, also known as Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts, which includes language authorizing the performance of notarial acts for remotely located individuals by means of audio-visual technology, and incorporates it into Wisconsin law. The law sets the requirements to become a RON notary and provides for additional privacy and fraud protection in the form of retention rules and identity-verification processes. Current notaries must register with the Department of Financial Institutions to become RON notaries. RON notaries must use registered RON providers of communication technology. Furthermore, the law provides for the establishment of a Remote Notary Council made up of members of the State Bar, Mortgage Bankers Association and Wisconsin Land Title Association. The council will cooperate with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions to promulgate appropriate rules and keep up with changes in technology. In addition to RON, the law also combines Wisconsin notarial laws into one chapter and deals with some other matters related to the use of notaries in Wisconsin.
If you have any questions regarding this article, please reach out to the authors, Joseph E. Tierney IV at 414.225.1471 or firstname.lastname@example.org and Lawrence J. Glusman at 414.225.1488 or email@example.com if you have any questions on this article.
1RON may not be used for creation and execution of wills, codicils, or testamentary trusts, living trusts (non-business), trust amendments for personal use, powers of attorney (non-business), marital property agreements, powers of attorney for health care, living wills, and authorizations for use and disclosure of health information. See Wis. Stat. Section 140.145(10).