FIPCO is providing updates on several online developments in light of COVID-19, including eNotary.
All Wisconsin versions of WBA/FIPCO documents that contain a notary are being modified to include two checkboxes and the words “This notarial act involved the use of communication technology” and “By my signature above, I certify that this document is an accurate copy of the electronic record.” FIPCO is working on the documents and will make them available in Compliance Concierge as soon as possible.
On March 18, 2020, the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institution (“DFI”) issued an emergency guidance authorizing the use of remote online notarization in Wisconsin. DFI approved the use of five online notarization providers. For the notarization of any type of document, DFI has approved the use of Notarize.com, NotaryCam and DocVerify. For real estate transactions, title companies and others performing real estate transaction the use of Pavaso and Nexsys have also been authorized.
According to the emergency order, those vendors need to be used because they are experienced platforms that meet or exceed the safeguards and rules set by Wisconsin Act 125. The order also specified that it is important to use the platforms because they are capable of identity-proofing, credential verification, recording and retention, and other safeguards that ensure the integrity of the notarial process. Because Wisconsin’s remote notary law is not currently in effect, banks need to consider the DFI guidance carefully and work with legal counsel to decide as to whether they can perform, or utilize, remote notarization.
Before notaries can perform remote online notarizations, they must complete training from a DFI-approved remote online notarization provider. Currently, Notarize.com, Pavaso and DocVerify are offering online training opportunities for Wisconsin notaries. Once a notary has completed the approved training provided by a specific provider, the notary is authorized to begin performing remote online notarizations using the provider's platform.
The emergency order allows Wisconsin notaries to become trained on a platform that allows them to remotely notarize documents, i.e., notarize documents for individuals using audio-visual technology instead of requiring the individual to be physically present before the notary. The DFI-approved platforms allow individuals to upload their own forms that need to be notarized onto one of the platforms as a PDF without signing the document. Then, the platforms allow for the identity of the individual to be verified and connect with a notary using an audio-visual connection. The platform also records the interaction between the notary and the individual and store the notarized document.
It should be noted that individuals still must comply with the legal requirements for a document that requires notarization. For example, if a document requires additional witnesses to be present at the time of notarization, those additional witnesses must still be present. For land transactions, DFI also cautions that notaries should check with their title companies to ensure that their remote notary provider is approved for insurance purposes.