Using Remote Online Notarization for Power of Attorney

A power of attorney (POA) is an important legal document that appoints a designated individual or entity with the authorization to make decisions on behalf of another person. Typically, those decisions include the grantor’s medical care, personal property and finances.

Powers of attorney generally come in four types, including the General POA, Special (or Limited) POA, Durable POA and the Healthcare (or Medical) POA. These agreements are commonly used in real estate transactions; banking, insurance and investments; establishing estates and trusts; and generating healthcare proxies and similar agreements.

The POA contains four primary sections. The first section designates an agent (also known as the attorney-in-fact), which is the person or entity granted powers by the principal (or grantor).

The next section spells out the general and specific powers to be granted to the agent. These powers fall within a number of broad categories, including:

  • Real property 
  • Stocks and bonds 
  • Estates, trusts and other beneficiary interests 
  • Personal and family maintenance

The principal may also grant specific authority over certain actions, such as the ability to adjust rights of survivorship, make a gift or designate special instructions, if needed.

The third section sets the duration of the POA and (optionally) nominates a guardian if the principal becomes incapacitated.

The final section is where the POA is signed, dated and notarized.

Due to their importance and sensitive nature, POAs usually must be signed in front of a notary public to be legally binding. There’s often urgency around creating and signing these documents, as the grantor may be undergoing a medical crisis or may need to get their financial affairs in order quickly. The traditional notarization process can be cumbersome and inefficient, resulting in time delays that add to the stress the principal is already feeling.

Using remote online notarization (RON) for power of attorney

Generating time-sensitive POAs through remote online notarization (RON) offers several clear advantages over traditional, in-person notarization. Using Docusign Notary, notaries have all the tools they need to conduct RON transactions securely via an encrypted audio-visual session. With Docusign Notary, organizations can:

  • Provide a convenient experience for signers, as they can now remotely sign and notarize agreements without leaving their house, or having a notary visit their home. 
  • Mitigate risk with a robust audit trail featuring a tamper-evident Certificate of Completion, audio-visual recording and electronic journal.
  • Establish confidence in signers’ identities with secure identity verification and knowledge-based authentication technologies.

Notary is built on Docusign eSignature, which makes it easy for organizations to send, sign and notarize agreements within the platform they already use.

Just as importantly, Notary is designed to meet the critical state legal requirements applicable to e-notary providers in an expanding pool of supported states. This is particularly beneficial for large enterprise organizations that operate in multiple states.

Note: Laws governing RON are based on the state where the notary public is commissioned and may vary by jurisdiction. A notary public is required to follow the corresponding RON requirements as set forth by the Secretaries of State, Lt. Governors, or other state officials to ensure a notarial act is executed correctly.

Docusign Notary provides notaries public with the digital tools they need to conduct remote online notarizations. To use Docusign Notary, organizations must use notaries public that are commissioned in one of the supported states. For more information, reference the Docusign Remote Online Notarization Legality Guide.

A common POA scenario—made simple with Docusign Notary

Let’s look at how this works when an estate attorney needs to remotely generate a POA and collect a notarized signature from a client to meet the client’s estate planning needs.

With Docusign Notary, the client can now sign their POA and have it notarized electronically and remotely—removing the hassles of meeting in person and saving time for both the signer and the law firm. The attorney’s paralegal simply generates the POA agreement and invites the client and notary public to a secure, interactive audio-visual session. From there, Docusign Notary guides both parties through the identity verification, signing and notarizing process. Within minutes, the notary public and client can meet, sign and notarize the document remotely.

Docusign Notary offers compelling features for POA notarization

Notary offers several industry-leading features and functions that ensure the RON experience is seamless and expedient for the signer, notary public and organization. These features include:

  • Digital Certificates: Docusign Notary allows notaries to use a Digital Certificate to apply a Digital Signature per specific state RON requirements.
  • Electronic Notary Seal: Docusign Notary provides notaries with their state-compliant seals, a feature included with the platform. The notary can then apply their seal on the document during the signing session to meet compliance requirements. For detailed information on individual state requirements, review our RON Legality Guide.
  • Audio-visual recording: An audio-visual recording is produced for each RON session and retained for 10 years, matching the longest state requirement for storage. This is an essential component of each RON session to help ensure the signer is not under duress or coerced, and that they are of sound mind when they sign the POA. 
  • Electronic notary journal: Docusign Notary stores the electronic journal to maintain a robust audit trail and meet RON compliance requirements. Docusign stores the journal for the lifetime of the notary’s account.
  • Detailed audit trail: Per typical state RON requirements, all documents, including the electronic journal, the signed POA form and the Certificate of Completion are securely saved after notarization with tamper evident seals.
  • Robust authentication protocols: Notary meets the most stringent state-specific signer verification requirements through several user-friendly methods. These protocols include using two-factor authentication if the notary doesn’t know the signer personally. Another is a low-documentation, “known to me” option that can be used when the notary personally knows the signer.
  • Centralized notary management: For organizations with multiple notaries on staff, Docusign Notary ensures they can all be managed in one place within a single Administrative dashboard.

Make RON even more efficient with POA templates

Within Docusign Notary, it’s easy and quick to create a POA template that will help accelerate the RON process and reduce mistakes caused by human error. Just follow these four steps:

  1. Legal placeholder section: In your template, include a text field where approved legal language can be added based on the unique client needs.
  2. Signature section: The template should include a signature section appended to the bottom of the document. By applying signing fields and Notary-specific tags, you can make it easy for the client to add their signature on the POA, authorizing the agent to be given the specific powers as designated in the legal section. This is also where the notary will add their signature and electronic notary seal.
  3. Save and close your template: With Notary, it is easy to save your template in Docusign eSignature for easy access for your next notarial session. 
Screenshot of power of attorney agreement with remote online notarization

The information contained in this blog is provided for informational purposes only. As with all legal documents, we recommend having an attorney review your POA template before first use.

Interested in learning more about RON? First, check out all the industry-leading features of Docusign Notary in this informative video, then read this whitepaper to discover how e-signature laws and principles laid the foundation for the RON revolution.