Have a mobile notary come to you.
“I was very mobile before Covid and became more so after, as people were more cautious about leaving their homes,” says Laura Biewer, a notary in Modesto, California. During the pandemic, papers were notarized on porches, sidewalks, and car hoods. “People are now more willing to leave their homes, but they still enjoy being in their own environment and doing it when it’s convenient for them. And they don’t want to spend their own gas,” Biewer adds.
Whether you go to them or they come to you, a notary you meet in person can notarize paper documents or electronic ones. The latter option is called In-Person Electronic Notarization or IPEN. You and the notary provide digital signatures.
Use remote online notarization.
Instead of meeting in person, remote notaries meet with clients online via a live video conference and sign electronic documents digitally. Before the pandemic, only 22 states had enacted permanent laws allowing remote online notarization. By October 2022, 44 states had done so, says Kat Garcia, a spokesperson for the National Notary Association.
California is the only Western state that has not. However, people living in California or any state that hasn’t allowed it can hire a remote notary who is licensed by and present in a state that has.
Be aware that the receiver of the document must accept remote notarizations; not all will do so, even in states that allow the practice.
Also know that in most states, wills and trusts must be written on paper and signed in ink. If the signer wants or needs to have it notarized, it cannot be done remotely. Ten states—including Arizona, Nevada, and Utah—have laws allowing wills to be created, signed, and notarized remotely, according to Trust & Will, a digital estate-planning website.