In these unprecedented times, it seems that we have officially entered a new normal.

One such change that is likely to come about is how electronic notarizations are performed in Pennsylvania.

Although the state’s Electronic Notarization Program has been in existence since 2006, a temporary change in the law will likely result in it becoming the normal way that PA notary publics administer electronic notarizations.

Until recently, most PA notaries did not have reason to become an eNotary. An eNotary is a commissioned notary public who is authorized to perform electronic notarizations. Electronic notarization also referred to as e-Notarization is the process of affixing a digital signature or certificate to an electronic document.

An electronic document may be a PDF transmitted via email.
As an example: An individual may sign a Power of Attorney (POA), scan it and then email the document to a Notary Public. The POA would then be considered an electronic document.

Although a Notary Public may be equipped to notarize the POA electronically, it would be unnecessary for them to do so. Under Pennsylvania law, the signer would still be required to personally appear before the notary public. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of State requested that the Governor temporarily suspend the state’s personal appearance requirement.

According to the Department :

Because of the potentially fatal nature of COVID-19, particularly for older persons, trust and estate attorneys have been inundated by requests to provide clients with legal instruments relating to end-of-life planning. Many people are frightened by the prospect of not being able to rely on others to handle their affairs if they become incapacitated. 

Yet, it is increasingly difficult for attorneys to meet with their clients. Many seniors, and particularly those with medical conditions, are obeying the president and the governor and are limiting exposure to other people. Some clients are in nursing homes where no visitors are allowed.

Governor Wolf honored the Department’s request and granted a waiver. The waiver allows notary publics to temporarily perform notarizations without also requiring that the signer make a personal appearance.

However, in the absence of the individual physically appearing before the notary public, the notarization may be recorded utilizing audio-visual technology.

The waiver also only applies to the following documents:

  • Living wills¬†
  • Powers of attorney
  • Self-executing wills¬†
  • Temporary guardianship¬†
  • Standby and temporary guardianship
  • Advance health care directives/health care powers of attorney¬†¬†

You can read the Dept. of State’s official notice below.

To learn more about becoming an eNotary and Electronic Notarization consider enrolling in the Pennsylvania Notary Course