There are many documents (i.e., trusts, powers of attorney, deeds, etc.) that simply need to be notarized to be valid. Although banks or financial institutions are an “essential business” and they will generally notarize documents other than Wills, many still do not want to have to go to a financial institution for this to be done.
As a result, online notarization (a notarial act performed by means of two-way video conference technology that meets the standards under Texas law) has become popular. The Secretary of State of Texas has to authorize a notary to be an online notary.
Qualifications to be an online notary include: (1) meeting the requirements to be a notary public, (2) paying an application fee and (3) electronically submitting a form to the Secretary of State.
Online notaries must:
- keep a secure electronic record of electronic documents notarized using audio-video communication.
- keep a recording of any video and audio conference that is the basis for satisfactory evidence of identity and notation of the type of identification presented as evidence in addition to acts normally required of notaries.
- keep a notation in the electronic record regarding identification of the principal for the online notarial act.
- take reasonable steps to (a) ensure the integrity, security and authenticity of online notarizations; (b) maintain a backup for the online notary’s electronic record; and (c) protect the backup record from unauthorized use.
- keep the electronic record maintained for at least five years after the date of the transaction or proceeding.
- keep the electronic record under the online notary’s exclusive control.
- not permit another person to use the online notary’s electronic record.
- notify an appropriate law enforcement agency and the Secretary of State of theft or vandalism of the online notary’s electronic record.
- notify the Secretary of State of the loss or use of the electronic record by another person of the notary’s electronic record.