Bulletin: MN2020002

Date:
October 26, 2020
To:
All Minnesota Issuing Offices
RE:
UNDERWRITING - Video Enabled Notarization During Peacetime Emergency

Dear Associates:

On October 21, 2020, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed the attached legislative bill to allow notarization of real estate documents through live video conference, as if it were a personal appearance under existing notary law. Under the new law, Minnesota temporarily allows a party in a different Minnesota location to sign a document before a notary public via video conference in “real time”. This modification to the notary law will expire on January 6, 2021.

As a function of this process, the notary public must do the following:

  • Create an audio and video record of the performance of the notarial act. 
  • The recording must reflect the items required by Minnesota Statutes, Section 358.645,subdivision 4, paragraph (a), clauses(1), (3), (4), (5), and (6), as well as a statement by the notarial officer to the signer informing the signer of the temporary authority under which this form of personal appearance is made, that the notarization is being recorded, that the recording may be subject to inspection by the commissioner of commerce, and that the recording will be maintained for a period of ten years.
  • The notarial officer shall (1) take reasonable steps to ensure the integrity, security, and authenticity of the audio and video record of the performance of the notarial act; (2) maintain a backup of the audio and video record; and (3) protect the record and the backup from unauthorized access or use.
  • The notarial officer shall maintain the recording for at least ten years after the date of the transaction or proceeding.

Except as otherwise provided in this law, no other requirements of the existing Minnesota notary laws have been changed.

Remote Online Notarization (“RON”):

Please remember that Remote Online Notarization (“RON”) and electronic notary (“e-Notary”) are approved for use in Minnesota and the application to become a RON notary can now be completed through the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office. This is the preferred method of completing a non “in-person” closing and has a different process and different requirements, which can be located in Stewart’s prior bulletin MN2018002 (see link below). RON transactions will be available with a policy amount up to $5,000,000.00 without Stewart Underwriter approval. 

Virtual Closing:

Stewart issuing agents and offices may use real-time audio-visual communication technology (“Virtual Technology”) to facilitate the real estate closing and attestation requirements for a notary public consistent with the above law and the guidelines set forth herein. This “virtual closing” is a face-to-face transaction using virtual technology where the closing documents are “wet signed” by the parties; received and assembled by the closer / escrow officer; and notarization completed for a paper transaction.

Virtual Technology (audio – video technology):

Stewart issuing agents and offices may use assistive audio-video technologies to facilitate the virtual closing and notarial act. The Stewart approved technology platforms and tutorials can be found at: Stewart eClosing Title Agent site.

In the event you do not use an approved Platform, the audio-visual technology must:

A. Provide for the audio/video preservation of the entire notarial transaction, which should be retained for a period not less than ten (10) years;
B. Provide for secure storage and transmission of the non-public personal information; and,
C. Provide for verification of location of signer

Suggestions for Audio-Video Conferencing Technology:

Care should be taken that any platform chosen adequately provides for the ability to record the live session and that both the signer(s) and the notary have devices which support the chosen platform. As a convenience to our agents and to aid your search in locating a service provider, we’ve listed some providers which offer audio/video conferencing and the ability to record such conference.

Zoom: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/203741855-Cloud-recording

Microsoft Teams: https://support.office.com/en-us/article/record-a-meeting-in-teams-34dfbe7f-b07d-4a27-b4c6-de62f1348c24

GoToMeeting: https://www.gotomeeting.com/features/online-meeting-recording

Cisco Webex: https://help.webex.com/en-us/nzpa89j/Manage-Cisco-Webex-Meetings-Recordings

ADDITIONAL UNDERWRITING REQUIREMENTS:

  1. Notary and signer must have face to face interactive (live) exchange of communication.
  2. Notary must verify that the person or persons signing the documents are located within Minnesota.
  3. Notary must verify ID via a video comparison of ID to signer’s face.
  4. The Notary must create an audio-visual recording of the performance of the notarial act which shall be retained for a period of at least 10 years from the date of the act.
  5. The policy amount does not exceed $1,000,000.00. For liabilities above this amount, underwriting approval must be obtained;
  6. The issuing agent must verify with the appropriate county Recorder or Registrar of Titles that the document will be accepted for recording.
  7. Parties, including lender, must authorize in writing the use of the video notary process.
  8. The Notary must sign a certificate of compliance on a form provided by Stewart.

Stewart is committed to our partners and providing solutions to allow agents to continue closing and insuring transactions.

Please note we have a dedicated site on VU for all things COVID-19 related available:
https://www.vuwriter.com/en/coronavirus-resources.html

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.