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The Compliant Notarization: #2020

As you look to create a compliant notarization, you should keep up to date on the laws in your state. This is particularly important as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause related changes to occur much more quickly than would have otherwise been the case.

Is a Personal Appearance Required?

It has been commonly required for the signer to make a personal appearance during the notarization process. The benefits of this are many, including protecting you, the signer, and other connected people legally and otherwise. However, this is one requirement that COVID-19 has impacted as more and more states are allowing remote online notarization.

Carefully Check the Document

You should always check over the document for several important reasons:

  • To look for certificate wording that will tell you what type of notarization to perform.
  • To review the certificate wording to make sure it contains all the elements a Notary certificate should have and that it conforms to the requirements of your state.
  • To check for blank spaces. Some states mandate there are no blanks on a document and other states just strongly recommend it. Blank documents can be altered later in an attempt to commit fraud.
  • Be sure to enter the date the notarization took place in the certificate wording.
  • To verify that the name on the ID supports the name in the document.

Is the Signer Who They Say They Are?

One of the most important items is verifying the identity of the signer. Although the specific requirements to do so vary from state to state, most allow you to accomplish this in one of three ways: previously attained personal knowledge of the signer, the usage of a government-issued identification document such as a passport or driver’s license or using credible witnesses. One significant exception to these three options exists in California; that state does not allow notaries to say that they personally know the person signing and that be sufficient.

Also ensure that the name on the document is the same as the name that is listed on the identification that you are using to verify the identity of the signer.

Is the Signer Acting of Their Own Free Will?

Also essential is ensuring that the signer is of sound mind, understands what is happening and is acting of their free will. This can often be accomplished by engaging in small talk. Take note that some states specifically prohibit you completing a notarization if the signer seems to not understand what is going on or what the document says or appears to be under coercion.

Keep Solid Records

You should keep solid and meticulous records of your notarizations. As a result, you will be able to quickly and easily pull up information related to one later should it prove necessary for legal or other reasons.

Need Notarial Advice from the Thought Leaders at BNN?

 BNN has been providing world class notarial services for over a decade. If you need advice on how to navigate the new normal in notary closings, feel free to reach out!

How to Perform a Notarization with a Client Wearing a Mask

A Paramount Duty

It is the duty of every notary public to ensure that he or she does not discriminate based on religious, cultural or gender affiliations against individuals requesting services. However, sticking to this rule can be difficult when someone is wearing a facial covering. This could be the case for women who wear facial coverings in line with their religious beliefs. However, it could also become problematic these days as increasing numbers of people are wearing face masks for the sake of their health. With so many states and municipalities requiring the wearing of face masks, it can be difficult to know how to comply with an individual’s belief and with the current rules while still doing your job correctly.

Follow the Letter of the Law

Your primary job is to ensure that you are always following the letter of the law of your state while also refusing to discriminate against any individual requesting your services. It is vital that you know and understand what the current law is in your municipality because many laws are frequently changing. In addition, you must always respond cautiously in these situations to ensure that you respect the wishes of those seeking your services.

As a notary public, your priority is ensuring that the person signing something in front of you is who they say they are. The best practice has and always will be to check identification to visualize the individual’s picture ID, which is most frequently a driver’s license. The driver’s license photograph must match up exactly with the person in front of you, and this will usually require you to see the individual’s entire face. Some people may not realize that this is the law. In these cases, explaining that the law requires you to positively identify them will put them at ease in the situation.For those who are still uncomfortable with unmasking or showing you their whole face, can be problematic. One could suggest visiting another notary public, such as one who is personally familiar to them. If the reason is health related, ensuring that all COVID – 19 protocols are strictly observed.

In some cases, a photo ID depicts a person wearing a facial covering, which may be the case because of some people’s religious beliefs. In a case such as this, you must still feel completely confident that the person in front of you is the same person represented in the photograph. If you ever feel unsure about this or are uncomfortable with this type of interaction, you can explain to your client that you cannot complete the notarization because you do not feel that you can positively identify the individual. This may make the client unhappy.

To protect yourself and your practice, you should practice thorough documentation for every client interaction you have. Write in detail about what happened and what was said. If the incident ever comes up at a later date, your documentation can help you remember what happened and can protect you from legal woes.

Finally, you should check with your state to learn about specific laws that could apply to you. Your state may already have laws in place that apply to individuals with covered faces who wish to have something notarized.

Experience Best Practices with BNN Services

Since 2008, BNN Services has been trusted by title agencies, mortgage lenders, servicers, and consumers to perform loan and document signings in multiple languages across the country.

Unlike other signing services, BNN Services “touches” each file 8 or 9 times to ensure the process moves forward free of delays. That’s why we’ve completed over 250,000 signings in all 51 jurisdictions and maintained a closing ratio of 96 percent.

Ready to experience the BNN Services difference? Get started today!

To Attend or Not to Attend the RON, that is THE Question?

Research shows that loan officers’ attendance at mortgage closings has a direct effect on borrower satisfaction. Although COVID-19 has changed the way people meet, the mortgage closing is still an important part of the borrower’s experience. Whether the meeting happens remotely or in-person, creating a positive closing experience should be a top priority for loan officers.

Loan Officer Presence Increases Borrower Satisfaction Exponentially

The loan officer can have a major impact on a borrower’s satisfaction with the loan process, and statistics show that the loan officer is more important now than ever. According the 2020 MortgageSAT report, 36 percent of current borrowers are first-time home buyers. Of those buyers, 87 percent relied on a referral to choose a lender.

For most borrowers, trustworthiness is a top priority when choosing a loan officer, especially for a first-time home purchase. The loan officer provides valuable advice and guidance throughout the process, so honest communication is critical. When the loan officer is present for the closing, they show the buyer that they’re available, responsive, and invested in the process. If the loan officer and borrower develop a bona fide relationship, the borrower is more likely to refer friends or family in the future.

The Net Promoter Score, or NPS, is a great way to explore the connection between the borrower’s level of satisfaction and their likelihood of recommending the lender. The 2018 MortgageSAT report found that the NPS drops by 11 points if the loan officer does not attend the closing. When the loan officer isn’t present at the closing and there are also other issues with the process, the NPS drops by 35 points.

This shows that the closing experience is one of the most important, if not the most important factor in borrower satisfaction and referral potential. To create the best possible closing experience, loan officers should do everything in their power to be present at the meeting.

COVID-19 and RON

The COVID-19 pandemic has made all types of in-person meetings more difficult. Before the pandemic hit, most states required mortgage closing ceremonies to happen in-person. Throughout 2020, mortgage closing regulations have become more relaxed in an effort to promote social distancing and reduce the spread of the virus.

Before COVID-19 arrived in the United States, 23 states had approved of Remote Online Notarization, or RON. Now, almost all states have at least approved temporary measures to allow RON while social distancing and stay-at-home orders are in place.

Federal legislature is also taking steps to make online closings more accessible. The SECURE Act of 2020 set minimum standards for remote notarizations. If this legislation passes, it will allow notaries in every state to offer RON services for mortgage closings.

RON Can Offer a Better Closing Experience

A remote mortgage closing may not sound like an ideal alternative to an in-person meeting, but RON does have some significant benefits. RON closings are more convenient for the lenders, borrowers, and closing agents as they eliminate travel time and offer more flexibility for scheduling.

Video communication platforms allow the participants to speak face-to-face even though they’re in different locations. The communication can be just as efficient and effective, but everyone can stay in the safety and comfort of their own home.

RON gives loan officers more freedom and flexibility to attend closings, which increases borrower satisfaction. The best way for loan officers to create an optimal closing experience is to offer their presence and expertise at the meeting; this is easier now with remote notarization. Take advantage of RON technology to offer borrowers a great closing experience and increase referrals and recommendations.

A Better Way to Close with BNN Services

Since 2008, BNN Services has been trusted by title agencies, mortgage lenders, servicers, and consumers to perform loan and document signings in multiple languages across the country.

Unlike other signing services, BNN Services “touches” each file 8 or 9 times to ensure the process moves forward free of delays. That’s why we’ve completed over 250,000 signings in all 51 jurisdictions and maintained a closing ratio of 96 percent.

Ready to experience the BNN Services difference? Get started today!

Closing a Loan in a Wet State During COVID – 19: Here’s What You Need to Know

Wet vs Dry – We are not Talking about Surfing

Wet purchases customarily mean that all monies are collected and disbursed at closing. This is sometimes referred to as “table funding”.

Dry purchases mean that all monies are collected and disbursed after closing by some previously agreed to arrangement.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, many changes have taken place. Wet funding seems “risky” as you are not physically in front of the closing table participants. When it comes to notarizations, social distancing has greatly restricted the ability of notaries to legally perform their duties. Fortunately, many states have adopted a temporary acceptance of remote notarizations that has allowed business to continue as close to normal as possible.

Here we look to North Carolina.

Technology and Location

In the great state of North Carolina, notaries can perform video notarization if they have the right equipment to do so. This means that they have a form of technology that offers clear sound, sight, and is utilized in real-time. The program utilized must allow the notary to take screenshots and record the session. During the session, the principals must provide verification of their physical location by stating the county in North Carolina that they’re currently in. Video notarization is authorized for all legal documents except election documents.

Oaths and Identification

The normal rules of identification should be followed via video conferencing. If the notary personally knows the principal, then they don’t need to ask for a formal identification document. However, if the principal is not personally known by the notary, they must provide physical identification over the video conferencing software. This includes an identification that is issued by state, federal, or tribal governments.

This identification needs to have the principal’s face, physical description, and signature to be accepted. Contrary to past requirements, notaries may accept an expired identification document if it was current prior to March 10, 2020. During the signature process, the principal will need to physically state the document that they are signing to the notary. Oaths are to be administered as normal.

Signature Verification

The most complicated part of the e-notarization process is transferring documents from the principal to the notary. Once the notary witnesses the principal’s signature, the principal must transmit the signed document to the notary. This document can be transmitted through various electronic means including photos, scans, or even faxes. In the event the principal doesn’t have access to electronic transmission, they can send the documents via traditional mail or another physical method to the notary.

Once received, the notary must compare the document physically in front of them with the one that the principal signed during the video conference. The notary shall compare the original document with the electronic transmittal, notarize the original, date the notarization as of the date of the act observed using the video conference technology, and promptly transmit the original to the principal or the principal’s designee.

Included Acknowledgement

Notaries performing an emergency video notarization must attach an acknowledgement to the notarized document. This must include three main factors, which are:

  • The county the principal stated they were located in.
  • The county where the notary was physically located during the video notarization.
  • A statement that says, “I signed this notarial certificate on ______ according to the emergency video notarization requirements contained in G.S. 10B-25.”

Journal Requirements

Notaries know that all the notarizations they perform must be recorded in their notarial journal. This journal must be kept for 10 full years from the date of the notarization. You’ll need to include some key elements as part of the emergency notarization. This includes the following:

  • Date of Completion
  • Time of Signing
  • Full Name of Principal
  • Type of Notarial Act
  • Name of Document Processed
  • Identification Number / Type Of ID
  • Video Technology Used
  • Names of Witnesses

Living Will / Heath Care Power of Attorney

A regular part of a notary’s acts is handling Declarations of a Desire for a Natural Death and a Health Care Power of Attorney. Contrary to post-pandemic, witnesses are no longer required for this type of notarial act. The notary must follow the acts of NCGS 90-321.1 for natural death declarations and NCGS 32A-16.1 for health care power of attorney forms. An acknowledgment must be added to these documents stating that the document was executed in accordance with the procedures in NCGS 32A-16.1 or NCGS 90-321.1.

Emergency notarizations are helping to maintain some level of legal order in the wake of this pandemic. While there have been many restrictions in the past about video conferencing for notarial acts, North Carolina has passed emergency notarization protocols to keep business flowing. As a notary, you want to be sure to understand these protocols so that you can legally protect yourself and your business.

 Need an Expert to Close a Purchase in North Carolina?

Since 2008, BNN Services has been trusted by title agencies, mortgage lenders, servicers, and consumers to perform loan and document signings in multiple languages across the country.

Unlike other signing services, BNN Services “touches” each file 8 or 9 times to ensure the process moves forward free of delays. That’s why we’ve completed over 250,000 signings in all 51 jurisdictions and maintained a closing ratio of 96 percent.

Ready to experience the BNN Services difference? Get started today!

Professional Standards for Remote Ink-Signed Notarizations (RINs)

Temporary authorizations for remote ink-signed notarizations (RINs) have been issued by several states following the initial authorization issued in New York by executive order on March 19, 2020.

RINs are designed to expedite transactions that require a notary while protecting the participants from COVID-19. With RINs, notaries can perform their services on paper documents using video conferencing technology.

These authorizations are temporary. They are usually valid for as long as a state of emergency exists.

10 Guidelines for RIN Best Practices

The National Notary Association has developed 10 best practices for notaries performing RINs. These standards are designed to keep RIN transactions secure and to guarantee a consistently high level of integrity.

Notaries performing RINs should comply with all legal requirements and state regulations while ensuring that RINs are authorized by their states.

Notaries should be aware of the time frame in which RINs are valid. They should ascertain that their contracting agencies have been approved by lenders to perform RIN loan closings.

1. Notaries should record, back up and securely store every video conferencing session.

2. Notaries should make journal entries detailing the actions performed and stating that the actions were performed with video conferencing technology.

3. Notaries should view both sides of identification cards to ensure that the signer in the video conference is the same person who appears on the card. RIN best practices include using the 2020 NNA Keesing Documentchecker Guide for reference.

4. Notaries should have signers pan the room with their video cameras to reveal whether other people are present.

5. RIN best practices should include having signers state on camera that they are freely and voluntarily signing the documents and have the soundness of mind to do so.

6. The video camera angle at the signer’s location should allow the notary to observe the signer while he or she is signing the document.

7. The signer should display each page of the signed document along with the ID card to compare the signature on the ID to the signature on the document prior to faxing or transmitting the document to the notary.

8. The notary should show the signer each page of the document received to ensure that it is the same document that the signer transmitted.

9. The angle of the video camera on the notary’s side should allow the signer to view the notary completing the certificate of notarial act.

10. Notaries should securely store the notarized document that was faxed or transmitted to the signer on the date of the original video conference. This is for comparison purposes should the signer later ask the notary to notarize the original signed paper document and destroy it immediately after returning it to the signer.

We hope you have enjoyed reading about RIN and its intricacies! For more information about RIN, please contact Madeline or David Ricci at 817.984.9160!

The Ultimate Guide to RON Best Practices

Remote online notarization (RON) is a service that states have implemented to expedite transactions like loan closings during the COVID-19 emergency. If you are a notary, you can perform RONs if they are legal in your state.

If your state has not authorized RONs or has yet to implement RON best practices, then you cannot perform RONs yourself.

How Does Remote Online Notarization Work?

RON is also called webcam notarization and virtual notarization. Rather than being physically together in the same room, the signer appears before the notary by way of a video conferencing system.

Remote online notarization is different than electronic notarization. Electronic notarization means that you are using digital documents that are signed and notarized electronically. Although RONs are often performed using digital documents and signatures, the signer and the notary are present with each other via video conferencing technology rather than in person.

Which States Permit RON?

Twenty-four states currently have laws authorizing RON. Fifteen of those states have fully implemented procedures for notaries to follow. Some states have notarization laws in place, but they haven’t yet implemented RON best practices or remote notarization technology.

Some states that have yet to implement RON best practices or that have RON legislation pending have issued special orders permitting notaries to conduct RONs anyway because of the COVID-19 emergency.

Procedures can differ from state to state. For example, South Dakota limits remote notarization to paper documents, and signers must be known personally by the notary.

Notaries who wish to perform RONs in their respective states should contact their notary regulatory agencies for detailed information.

Do I Need Special Training to Perform RONs?

States with RON authorization must provide notaries with state-specific guidance and RON best practices. Ohio, Florida, and Nevada offer training programs. You can access this information on the website of your secretary of state.

Not all states have training systems up and running. For example, although North Dakota’s webcam notarization law became effective on August 1, 2019, the state did not issue guidance until March of 2020.

The National Notary Association has a notary law database with detailed information and updates. That list is constantly being updated as states implement remote notarization systems.

Different states have different technology requirements. A variety of companies provide audiovisual internet technology for RONs. These companies include Safedocs, SIGNiX, DocVerify and Nexsys, and they will train you on their systems.

For more information about RON, please contact Madeline or David Ricci at 817.984.9160!