Bulletin: TX2018005

Date:
October 30, 2018
To:
All Texas Issuing Offices
RE:
UNDERWRITING - Remote Online Notarization (RON)

Dear Associates:

Since we issued our original bulletins (TX2018003 and SLS2018003) a number of questions have been frequently asked. This bulletin addresses those frequent questions. 

1. What is a remote online notarization (RON)?

A remote online notarization (RON) occurs when the parties to a legal document appear before a notary by electronic audio and visual means, but the parties are in different locations.  

2. Can any notary do a RON?

It depends on State law.  In Texas, a traditional notary can obtain an additional license from the Texas Secretary of State to perform RON transactions. 

For additional information, please visit the Texas Secretary of State website. https://www.sos.state.tx.us/statdoc/online-np-educational.shtml

3. Is a notary required to become eNotary certified to close eClosings that are not RON Closings?

A RON certification is only needed in Texas if the notary is performing RON as part of an eClosing.  

4. What documents can have a RON? 

Any document can have a RON.

5. Can documents be notarized by non-Texas remote online notaries?

Yes. Documents notarized by a non-Texas remote online notary in normal residential transactions are acceptable if performed in compliance with that notary’s state law. For commercial transactions, please check with a Texas underwriter if a non-Texas remote online notary performing a RON is acceptable.

6. What about a power of attorney (POA)?

It depends on the intended use of the power of attorney (POA).

For normal residential real estate transactions the power of attorney can have a RON acknowledgment. Please continue reading this section and the next section in the entirety as to home equity loan transactions and for residential remodels and renovations.

For commercial transactions, please check with a Texas underwriter.

A POA must be recorded at least once to be valid for real estate transactions. Unless the POA was previously recorded, the POA will need to be recorded. You should check with your county clerk before attempting to rely on such a document. If your clerk does not accept RON-POAs, please contact a Texas underwriter to discuss any alternatives.

If the POA is to be used in a home equity loan transaction and for residential remodels and renovations, the document must clearly state the physical place the document was created (attorney office, lender or Title Company) and that it was executed in contemplation of a Texas home equity loan or for a Texas residential remodel or renovation. The more specific the loan is described the better. Without such information, the POA cannot be accepted.

7. Can RONs be used in other documents related to Texas home equity loan transactions?

Not at this time.

8. Must the notary specify if they are online or traditional?

A notary must specify if they are acting as a remote online notary on the face of the document receiving RON.

9. What about a Texas notary doing a RON for Texas property with the signers located in another state?

Yes, a remote online notarization by a Texas notary may only be performed by a Texas notary who is commissioned as an online notary for the state of Texas.  

Texas law and regulations state that a Texas online notary public shall not perform online notarization if the Texas online notary is not physically in Texas at the time of the notarization.

For questions about this requirement, contact a Texas Senior Underwriter.

(Charles Craig, Heidi Junge or John Rothermel)

10. What if my county clerk doesn’t e-record?

You will have to verify if the clerk will allow you to print the electronically acknowledged document and attach a certification that it is a true and correct copy of the document you received electronically.  If they will allow that process, you may record the RON document as a paper document. If not, you should not accept a RON.

11. Should I or my escrow officers become remote online notaries?

It is a business decision for you and your company to make. There are situations where you may find it advantageous to be a remote online notary, especially if you have experienced transactions where customers cannot attend a closing due to travel. 

Any questions related to the technology approved by the Company or training available on RON should be directed to your Division President (if an affiliate office) or your Agency Service Representative or Manager (if an agent). Any questions related to escrow matters are outside of the scope of underwriting and require redirection to your company legal counsel, company policy maker, or marketplace administrator, etc. 

12. Can we choose our own technology for RONs?

Stewart does not have its own technology to support RON. As stated in our National bulletin, Stewart has approved certain technology providers. Please refer to SLS2018003 for more detail.  

13. Must all parties agree to have the documents signed using a RON?

All parties must agree to allow for documents to be signed using a RON and it is a good practice to have written confirmation included in your file.

14. What happens if a RON document is e-recorded with a clerk who doesn’t accept RON documents?

Texas law provides that a defective acknowledgment is cured after the passage of 2 years after the recording. 

Texas law does not provide for a clerk to “unrecord” a document that has been recorded. Accordingly, if the clerk accepts the document and records it you may consider it valid.

A clerk does have time allotted to reject an e-filed document. Therefore, we would advise that it not a sound business practice to e-record documents your clerk has advised will not be accepted.

15. How do I obtain my eNotary Certification?  

The notary must obtain a Digital Certificate to be submitted with their eNotary application. Some of the approved vendors of Stewart can provide this certificate, however the notary will need to be set up in the platform for the certificate to be issued.   

If you have any questions relating to this or other bulletins, please contact a Stewart Title Guaranty Company underwriter.

For on-line viewing of this and other bulletins, please log onto www.vuwriter.com.

THIS BULLETIN IS FURNISHED TO INFORM YOU OF CURRENT DEVELOPMENTS. AS A REMINDER, YOU ARE CHARGED WITH KNOWLEDGE OF THE CONTENT ON VIRTUAL UNDERWRITER  AS IT EXISTS FROM TIME TO TIME AS IT APPLIES TO YOU, AS WELL AS ANY OTHER INSTRUCTIONS. OUR UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS DO NOT AUTHORIZE OUR ISSUING AGENTS TO ENGAGE IN SETTLEMENTS OR CLOSINGS ON BEHALF OF STEWART TITLE GUARANTY COMPANY. THIS BULLETIN IS NOT INTENDED TO DIRECT YOUR ESCROW OR SETTLEMENT PRACTICES OR TO CHANGE PROVISIONS OF APPLICABLE UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS. CONFIDENTIAL, PROPRIETARY, OR NONPUBLIC PERSONAL INFORMATION SHOULD NEVER BE SHARED OR DISSEMINATED EXCEPT AS ALLOWED BY LAW. IF APPLICABLE STATE LAW OR REGULATION IMPOSES ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS, YOU SHOULD CONTINUE TO COMPLY WITH THOSE REQUIREMENTS.

References

Bulletins Replaced:
None
Related Bulletins:
SLS2018003 UNDERWRITING - Remote Online Notarization
 
TX2018003 UNDERWRITING - Remote Online Notarization in Texas (This Bulletin is a Supplement to SLS2018003)
Underwriting Manual:
None
Exceptions Manual:
None
Forms:
None