Login

Employers of online notaries should be aware of witnessing requirements to protect their business from unlawful online notarizations. Special considerations are taken under Florida Law to protect vulnerable adults from attempted abuse or fraud through remote online notarization (RON). Understanding the nuances of each document type is crucial for compliant online notarizations that improve the client experience.

  • Witness Location: Witnesses can be physically with the principal or remotely connected via audio-video technology. This does not apply to vulnerable adults where witnesses must be in the signer’s physical presence.
  • Identity Verification: If the witness is remote, the principal’s and witness’s identities must be verified per the established identification procedures. If the witness is physically present, they must state their name and address on the recording.
  • Witnessing Act: The witness must either be physically present or present via audio-video technology at the time the principal signs the electronic record, hearing the principal acknowledge the signing.
  • U.S. Presence Confirmation: Remote witnesses must confirm they are in the U.S. or its territories during the witnessing.
  • Special Cases (e.g., wills, trusts, health care directives): The principal must answer specific questions regarding their decision-making capacity. If the principal is considered a vulnerable adult, the physical presence of witnesses is required for valid witnessing. The notary must ask additional questions about the principal’s marital status, assistance received current location, and the presence of others. Witnesses’ presence via audio-video technology is invalid for witnessing a vulnerable adult’s signature.
  • Documentation and Evidence: The principal’s responses and the presence of witnesses (via technology) are documented and can be used as evidence regarding the validity of the instrument.
  • Jurisdiction and Legal Authority: The state law governs the validity of these witnessing acts, and state and federal courts have jurisdiction over disputes related to them.
  • Legal Compliance: The process must comply with subpoenas, court orders, and lawful requests, providing necessary information and recordings.
  • Exceptions and Specific Applications: There are exceptions and specific rules for different types of documents and situations, like powers of attorney and non-testamentary aspects of revocable trusts.
  • Physical Presence Exception: If at least two witnesses are physically present with the principal, specific subsection requirements do not apply.

Florida Statue 117.285 – Supervising the witnessing of electronic records.

Handling Process for Each Document Type

  • Review and Preparation: Before the RON session, review the document to understand its purpose and requirements.
  • Verification of Document Completeness: Ensure the document is complete and ready for notarization. Incomplete documents should not be notarized.
  • Clear Instructions: Provide clear instructions to the signer(s) on where to sign and initial.
  • Record Keeping: Accurately record the details of the notarization in your electronic journal, noting the type of document.

Best Practices

  • Stay informed about the legal requirements and standard practices for each type of document.
  • Always adhere to Florida’s notarial laws and regulations, especially concerning document-specific procedures.
  • Maintain a resource or reference guide for handling various document types, including any special considerations or common issues.

Summary

Proficiency in handling different types of documents is a vital skill for a Remote Online Notary. By understanding the specificities of each document type, you ensure a smooth, compliant, and professional notarization process. Dedicate yourself to mastery by learning about a new document each week.

To make sure you always work with a proficient Remote Online Notary schedule a consultation or email us today, at hello@notarynode.com.