Remote Notarization: What Lawyers and Notaries Need to Know
The New York State Bar Association has formed a task force to study the state’s new rules on notarization, which are having a significant impact on lawyers handling real estate transactions, wills and trusts and all other legal matters that require signing documents.
While the task force members deliberate, the association is doing everything it can to assist lawyers in their efforts to comply with the new rules. Hundreds of lawyers have signed up for a Continuing Legal Education course that will take place from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 23.
“Since the pandemic, we have been looking for ways to streamline operations and make legal transactions easier, but these rules are having the opposite effect,” said Sherry Levin Wallach, president of the New York State Bar Association. “Solo and small firm practitioners, in particular, are finding it difficult to get their jobs done and already overloaded lawyers in the state’s rural areas are asking for relief.”
The task force will be chaired by Richard Lewis, a Binghamton attorney who will become the association’s president on June 1; and Ellen Makofsky, a former secretary of the association who specializes in elder law and estate planning. The task force is likely to make recommendations to the Secretary of State’s Office, which developed and promulgated the rules.
At the CLE, Michael Markowitz, a general practice attorney in Hewlett, will explain the new rules. Omid Zareh, the founding member of Weinberg Zareh Malkin Price, will discuss the ethical implications of records retention, and Angel Hernandez, a vice president at Stavvy, will explain how to store an electronic document. Those interested in attending can register through this link.
The new rules require that all notaries keep a journal of each notarization for a decade, and also mandate that notaries who perform their jobs online using communications software maintain audio and video records for ten years.
“We represent thousands of lawyers – many of whom are notaries – and they are saying that the new record-keeping requirements makes it far more difficult and time consuming to do their jobs, which makes it more expensive and less efficient for their clients,” Lewis said. “Our task force will work quickly to come up with recommendations that will be fair to lawyers and the executive branch alike.”
While notaries do not have to be lawyers, many lawyers choose to be notaries to make it easier for clients to sign the voluminous documents required in just about any transaction.
The members of the task force are:
- Gerard Antetomaso, a real property attorney who is a partner at Evans Fox in Rochester
- Megan Curinga, a real property attorney at Hinman, Howard & Kattell in Binghamton
- Michael de Freitas, a member of William C. Moran & Associates in Williamsville
- David Goldfarb, a trusts and estates attorney who is of counsel to Grimaldi Yeung Law Group in New York City
- Jaime Dale Lewis, a trust and estates attorney who is a founding member of Birnbaum Lewis in Long Island
- Michael Markowitz, a general practice attorney in Long Island
- John Owens Jr., New York State Uniform Court System
- Lynn Poster-Zimmerman, a Suffolk County divorce lawyer
- Michael A. Ross, who specializes in attorney ethics
- Joshua Werbeck, chair of Bousquet Holstein’s Real Estate Practice Group in Syracuse
- Omid Zareh, the founding member of Weinberg Zareh Malkin Price