Thus far, California online notaries have been behind the curve

A notary public sends information on his smart phone. (Photo: Motortion Films, via Shutterstock)

Under pressure to find a notary public and meet a two-hour deadline, my only option was to turn to the internet and find a notary public online to help me finalize paperwork for my son’s school. The notary was based in Texas, my son’s school in California, and thanks to the online notaries and my computer – we met the deadline.

Having the ability to access an online notary was critical for me and I know that this is a valuable service that members of the special needs community I serve would largely benefit from as many are not able to meet with a notary public in person.

Notarization is not part of our everyday lives, and yet, notarization provides a critical service when we need it most. Completing important legal or financial matters – such as a power of attorney, medical directive, immigration forms, and more – often require notarizations.

Passed in the Assembly and making its way through the Senate, the Legislature is working hard to bring online notarization to California.

Notarizations are important but can pop up at rather inconvenient times, and finding a notary on short notice can often be difficult. Today, almost everything in our lives can be done online – and thanks to advancements in technology, so can notarizations. But unfortunately, California notaries are being left out and are unable to perform online notarizations for residents.

California, is behind 38 other states that have passed remote online notarization legislation that, if adopted in California, would allow our state’s notaries to provide their services online.

Of course, we want to get this done but we want to get it right. Assembly Bill 1093 (Jones-Sawyer) has the potential to be the opportunity we’ve been waiting for. Passed in the Assembly and making its way through the Senate, the Legislature is working hard to bring online notarization to California. Ensuring data security and safety for both consumers and notaries is absolutely necessary, and I urge policymakers to continue making it a priority.

But for AB 1093 to work for everyone, it has to uphold the centuries-old tradition of interstate recognition or we risk placing an unnecessary burden on individuals.

When dealing with time-sensitive, personal matters that require notarizations, you don’t stop to think about the nuances of every state’s laws. That’s why every state acknowledges and accepts the official acts of other states, including notarizations. But if AB 1093 passes as written, it goes back on this tradition.

I was able to meet the two-hour deadline for my son’s school without having to even consider whether Texas’ state law for notarization would apply to California. Now to add that extra layer of frustration, particularly for elders and people with disabilities, would be unnecessary and have harmful repercussions.

Today, all residents of California can get a document notarized online if that service is provided by a commissioned notary of another state authorized to do so in their respective state. AB 1093 would deviate from the state’s current policy on interstate recognition.

If AB 1093 passes without the inclusion of interstate recognition, a person using a notary public online that is not recognized by the state will have to redo the process all over again to have their documents recognized in California. In situations when time is precious – this can be detrimental to many people and cause bigger issues than anticipated.

For example, if an elderly family member is looking to finalize their estate to protect their family in the event of death, they will have to navigate the laws of whatever state they are obtaining the notarization and ensure that the document will be accepted in California. If not, the family may not realize this until it’s too late.

I ask our policymakers not to shift the burden to individuals like me and the special needs community and amend AB 1093 which must include interstate recognition in order for it to actually work for everyone.

We are long overdue for this, but we need it done right.

Editor’s Note: Juan Carlos Garcia, Vice President of Operations of Special Needs Network

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