December 5, 2023

How to Use Remote Online Notarization (RON) for Power of Attorney

How to Use Remote Online Notarization (RON) for Power of Attorney

DISCLAIMER: The information gathered here is deemed reliable as of the date of publication, but each state has the right to change its information and processes. We strongly recommend that you meet with your real estate attorney for specific advice. For additional information on this topic contact Evelyn Miller, Partner, at 202-753-7400.

Although signature by the principal is always preferred by title companies, there are many reasons you might consider a Power of Attorney (POA) for your next real estate transaction such as travel or physical disability. The traditional POA process can be inconvenient, but thankfully Remote Online Notarization (RON) provides a remote option.

SMART provides RON services for POAs and also prepares POAs. Here’s what you need to know about using RON for a POA.

What is a Power of Attorney?

Power of Attorney (POA) is a legal document you can use to appoint a designated person or entity with authorization to make decisions on your behalf including personal real property, medical care, and finances.

Specifically, the POA has four types:

  • General POA
  • Special or Limited POA
  • Durable POA
  • Healthcare or Medical POA

Common reasons you might use a POA are for real estate transactions, banking and insurance decisions, investments, and creating healthcare proxies.

Because they are legal documents that often contain sensitive information, POAs are signed in front of a notary public. Often, there is urgency when getting a POA, which is why using RON to complete a POA is a desired option if your state allows it.

What is Included in a POA?

The POA designates your agent, who is called your attorney-in-fact. The attorney-in-fact is the person or entity to whom you grant powers to make decisions on your behalf. This person will have signatory authority over you for specified matters.

The POA details the attorney-in-fact’s general and specific powers within categories such as:

  • Real estate property
  • Assets and liabilities
  • Stocks and bonds
  • Personal and family maintenance
  • Healthcare and medical decisions

The POA may also grant the attorney-in-fact authority over specific actions like changing the rights of survivorship, making gifts, and designating special instructions.

The POA should always be signed and dated by a competent principal before a licensed notary. Some jurisdictions also have requirements for specific statutory language on a POA for certain matters, as well as witness requirements.

How do you use Remote Online Notarization (RON) for Power of Attorney (POA)?

Contact a notary public who offers RON to get started. In order to complete a RON, you must be present for a secure, audio-video session in which you verify your identity and sign the document electronically. Similarly, the notary public will remotely meet with you and notarize the POA electronically.

As a reminder, regulations and laws that govern RON are based on the state in which the notary is commissioned. As such, the notary public must follow the requirements of their respective jurisdiction.

States generally accept notarized documents from other jurisdictions so long as the notary is legally sufficient in the jurisdiction of notarization. So for example, Virginia was the first jurisdiction to legalize RONs. Those Virginia RON documents are acceptable in any state since they are legal in Virginia even if that state has not yet legalized RONs.

Beware that most jurisdictions have very specific requirements for POAs for the transfer of real property and those POAs must be in recordable form to be utilized for sale or purchase of real estate. Contact SMART for a POA that is in proper form for the jurisdiction where your property is situated.

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