Should You Use Online Notarization for Legal Documents?
Many legal documents need to be notarized. The purpose of having a document notarized is that a person (the notary public) has authenticated your identity before you sign. Notarization has been a helpful bulwark to reduce fraud for centuries.
However, Florida has been considering whether to allow for online notarization for years. According to the Miami Herald, Governor Rick Scott vetoed a similar bill three years ago after concerns were expressed from many quarters. However, the bill recently passed in June and was signed by Governor DeSantis.
Risks and Benefits of Online Notarization
The primary risk to online notary services is the increased risk of fraud. The law requires that the person requesting notarization “appear” before the notary by using audio-video communication technology as authorized under Fla. Stat. § 117.201.
However, almost anyone could log online and contact a notary who offers their services virtually. Because the notary is not in the same room as the senior, the notary might not notice whether the person is impaired mentally or emotionally. Someone who wants to induce an elderly person to sign a will or other legal document will have a much easier time doing so by using a virtual notary.
There are some benefits, however. For one, it would be easier for seniors to fill out legal documents. Some seniors cannot leave the house and do not have transportation. By gaining access to an online notary public, these seniors can get essential estate planning documents created, such as a will or power of attorney.
Should You Use an Online Notary?
Now that electronic notarization is legal, should you go ahead and use this service? We recommend against it. Those most likely to use an online notary are those who create their own wills, trusts, and power of attorney. We recommend that people not to try and create these complicated legal documents on their own.
By using an attorney, you can expert legal advice and can protect your rights. It is very easy to make a mistake in a will that can ultimately cost your heirs and beneficiaries a lot of money.
Your attorney should also be able to get your documents notarized, even if you are homebound. For example, your lawyer can bring a notary to you at home so you can have your legal documents properly notarized. Let a legal professional worry about making your documents airtight. One of the benefits of estate planning is that it is supposed to provide you with peace of mind.
Protecting Our Clients
Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group is committed to serving the best interests of our clients. Our estate planning attorneys have been representing residents of The Villages for years and understand how estate planning and other elder law services benefit the community.
If you have a legal issue or a question, you need accurate advice from a trusted legal source. Please contact us today by calling 800-743-9732. You can also send an online message if that is more convenient. Feel free to reach out to us as soon as possible because our consultations are always free.