August 14, 2020

Volume X, Number 227

August 14, 2020

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August 12, 2020

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Governor Wolf Approves Temporary Limited Suspension of Rule Requiring Physical Presence of Notaries for Estate Planning Documents

On April 2, 2020, Pennsylvania Governor Wolf approved a temporary and limited suspension of current law 57 Pa.C.S. § 306, which requires the physical presence of notaries, for estate planning documents that require notarization or for which notarization is considered best practice.

Estate Planning Documents

Estate planning documents that require notarization under current Pennsylvania law are powers of attorney (20 Pa.C.S. §5601), self-executing wills (20 Pa.C.S. §3132.1), and temporary guardianships (23 Pa.C.S. §5621).

Estate planning documents for which notarization is considered best practice in Pennsylvania consist of advanced health care directives/powers of attorney (20 Pa.C.S. §5452), living wills (20 Pa.C.S §5442), and temporary and standby guardianships (23 Pa.C.S. §5611).

Audio-Visual Technology

Per Governor Wolf’s recent temporary suspension of certain of these laws, Pennsylvania notaries may now use audio-visual technology rather than in-person notary procedures for estate planning documents, subject to the following safeguards:

  • Notaries must execute all notarial acts (including acknowledgments) in accordance with all other requirements of the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts.

  • Safeguards, such as identity verification, use of tamper-evident technology, and an audio-video recording of the notarial act, as contemplated by the Uniform Law Commission’s amendment to the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts and the recent Remote Online Notarization legislation, must still be observed.

  • A Pennsylvania notary using audio-visual technology in lieu of personal appearance is required to:

    • Become an approved Pennsylvania electronic notary by completing this free application online;

    • Use one of the pre-approved e-notary solutions identified by the Pennsylvania Department of State that provide remote notarization technology (Doc-Verify, Safe-Docs, Pavaso); and

    • Include in the notary certificate that the notarial act was performed by means of communications technology, which can be satisfied by the following statement – “This notarial act involved the use of communication technology.”

©2020 Norris McLaughlin P.A., All Rights ReservedNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 99


About this Author

Barbara L. Hollenbach Member | Pennsylvania

Barbara L. Hollenbach focuses her practice on workers’ compensation, professional liability, products liability, and general litigation.

Her civil litigation experience includes representing manufacturers of motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, and other products.  She also represents a variety of professionals, including psychiatrists and veterinarians, as well as clients in will contest actions, including allegations of undue influence and lack of mental capacity.

484 765-2277
Judith A. Harris Estate, Trust and Individual Tax Attorney Norris McLaughlin Pennsylvania

Judith A. Harris, Co-Chair of the Estate, Trust and Individual Tax Group, has over 30 years of experience in the areas of taxation, wills and trusts, estate administration, business matters, and tax-exempt entities.

In addition to creating estate plans for clients from the most sophisticated to the most basic of wills, revocable trusts, powers of attorney, and living wills, Judith’s specialties include business matters involving corporations, partnerships, and limited liability companies. Her practice also includes the creation and representation of charitable trusts and foundations, as well as representation of estates, trusts, and beneficiaries in disputes before the Orphans’ Court. She handles the resolution of tax controversies for business and individual taxpayers before all divisions of the Internal Revenue Service and the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue. These cases often involve estate, business, and individual audits, or the resolution of collection efforts such as liens, levies, and garnishments by the IRS and state taxing authorities.

As an estate planning and tax attorney, Judith frequently works with clients to structure the optimal transfer of a client’s wealth and business interests to younger generations with minimal tax consequences.

Judith is President of the Board of Trustees for the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, a board member since 1993 and former officer of the Allentown Symphony Association, and a board member of the Lehigh County Agricultural Society. She is a board member and past President of the Fund to Benefit Children & Youth, Inc., and a former board member and Executive Committee member of the Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Judith is past President of the Estate Planning Council of the Lehigh Valley, and served for 10 years on the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority board of governors. From 1993 to 2000, she was an adjunct instructor of “Wills, Trusts, and Estates” at Penn State University’s Lehigh Valley Campus.

(484) 765-2284