Since the time that Governor Hogan issued Executive Order Number 20-03-30-04 Authorizing Remote Notarization on Monday, March 30, 2020 , the MSBA has received a number of inquiries concerning which electronic notarization services beyond those listed in the Secretary of State’s Advisory Guidance which offered a non-exhaustive list of vendors that included: DocVerify, LenderClose, Notarize, NotaryCam, Pavaso, Safedocs, SIGNiX, and World Wide Notary. Members asked whether the the Secretary of State’s remote notarization requirements could be met using services such as Zoom, or eNotary | DocuSign (not currently operating in Maryland). The MSBA has sought further clarification from the Secretary of State’s Office in the form of a more expansive list of known vendors, operating in Maryland, that are approved for remote notarization under the terms of the Executive Order. We will provide further information on this matter as soon as it becomes available.
Additionally, MSBA members have inquired about COVID-19 emergency relief on a similar, but unrelated matter: Remote Witnessing, especially in connection with Estate Planning matters. The MSBA is exploring possibilities with the Governor’s Office in this area. However, the distinction, for the purposes of seeking relief in the area by way of Executive Order is significant. Remote Notarization, conceptually had recently been enacted by Senate Bill 678 (with a delayed effective date of October 1, 2020) during the 2019 General Assembly session. However, also during the 2019 legislative session, the General Assembly passed legislation that specifically prohibited remote witnessing of wills (House Bill 1140). While there are a variety of documents, other than wills, which perhaps could be executed remotely, the legislature’s affirmative prohibition in the area of execution of wills creates a challenge for gubernatorial relief by way of executive order. Importantly, however, at the time that the General Assembly enacted the prohibition of remote witnessing of wills, no one imagined a pandemic with the far-reaching impact brought by COVID-19. Accordingly, the MSBA will continue to explore with the Governor’s Office all options for effectuating emergency relief in execution of crucial estate planning documents.