Wisconsin Adopts Law Allowing Remote Online Notarization

Wisconsin has now joined a growing group of more than 20 states that allow electronic Remote Online Notarization (RON) of documents. On March 3, 2020, Wisconsin enacted 2019 Wisconsin Act 125, Wisconsin’s New RON law. The Act takes effect on May 1, 2020 and requires the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions to promulgate new rules regarding the performance of a RON notarial act.

Under prior law, all documents that required notarized signatures had to be executed while in the physical presence of a notary public, who would witness or attest the signature. The new RON law updates document notarization requirements to meet the demands of modern 21st century business practices and technology.

With RON, a signatory no longer needs to be in the physical presence of the notary when the document is executed. In fact, a signatory can be in another city, state, or even another country. The notary may use approved online tools to perform the notarial act while the signatory executes the document at a remote location. The RON law requires the notary and the signatory to have an online audio and visual connection allowing them to communicate with each other in real time, and the notary must make an audio and visual recording of the notarial act.

The use of RON has its limits, however. It cannot be used to notarize certain types of documents, including wills and testamentary trusts, living trusts, powers of attorney, marital property agreements, authorizations for disclosure of health care information, and health care powers of attorney and living trusts. But the new RON law will help to simplify and facilitate the closing of real estate transactions and other business deals.