Times are Changing

Times are Changing

For the last hundreds of thousands of years, Wills and other estate planning documents were only signed utilizing what we might call “ink on paper.” It simply means that a person signs a piece of paper with a pen or some other writing utensil. Sometimes copies of those documents were valid and other times, the originals were needed. However, on the 9th day of May, 2019, the Governor signed Senate Bill 918, which authorized notaries to sign documents electronically.

It is much different than the electronic signatures you may be used to. It is common for someone to receive an email asking them to electronically sign some contract or document. They open up the email and there are little boxes, usually they are yellow, which you click indicating that you agree to the terms of the document. The E-Notary statutes are much more involved and require that the notary be on an approved audio-video platform similar to Zoom along with the person signing, and witnesses when necessary.

Electronic Notaries are required to register as such with the state of Oklahoma and be bonded accordingly. This was especially useful during Covid when people were unable to leave assisted living facilities or their home, either because they had Covid or were concerned they may contract it.

It is a Zoom type platform-signing event, so some people who were less used to using computers found it more difficult, but thankfully there were others that were able to assist them such as children, grandchildren, or other caregivers.

Oklahoma was an early adopter of enacting a statute similar to this. Oklahoma is frequently on the front-end of enacting statutes they think may benefit the community. Currently, 43 states allow for Electronic Notary Services in some capacity.

Our law firm has fully embraced electronically notarized documents. Not only do we feel like it is more flexible but it also allows us to sign documents with people who are busy, out of state, or otherwise do not wish to come into our office. In addition to that, due to the fact the documents are signed electronically, any printed copy of those documents is considered an original. This is of great assistance when someone requires an original.

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