Temporary Change to Notary Requirements for Real Estate Transactions in Response to COVID-19

 

In response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, Governor Wolf approved a temporary suspension of the physical presence of notaries for certain real estate transactions on March 25, 2020. The existing law, codified at 57 Pa. C.S. § 306, requires a notary to be physically present when witnessing the executing of documents.

Due to the Governor’s directive concerning the closure of non-life sustaining businesses and the importance of social distancing, Governor Wolf has temporarily suspended Section 306 only for the following circumstances: (1) personal real estate closings where the agreement of sale was signed prior to the directive ordering the closure of non-essential businesses; and (2) commercial real estate transactions regardless of when the agreement of sale was signed.

A notary using technology to assist with the execution of real estate documents under this temporary suspension of Section 306 must:

1.    Become an approved Pennsylvania Electronic Notary;
2.    Use an E-Notary solution approved by the Pennsylvania Department of State; and
3.    Indicate on the notary certificate that the notarial act was performed using communication technology.

At this time, notaries are still required to be physically present to witness the execution of other legal documents, including estate planning documents. However, legislation has been introduced in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and Senate to allow for remote notarization of these documents that has note yet been signed into law.

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