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How Does Remote Online Notarization (RON) Work?

In Florida

Remote online notarization (RON) is a process for signing documents by a video link that will then be notarized by a specially licensed “online notary.” Part of the process became law on January 1, 2020. The part dealing with electronic wills does not take effect until July 1, 2020.

The online notary is not present with you. Documents can also be witnessed by video link, and the witness(es) need not be present with you.

You must already have your documents ready to be signed and notarized. The RON provider does not prepare your documents for you.

Every person who signs a document remotely (the “principal” or “signor”), must be authenticated. This is a two-step process. A “credential analysis” process (to verify that your government-issued photo ID is authentic) is required and can only be conducted by an RON provider.

The next step is a “knowledge based authentication” process and, again, can only be conducted by an RON provider. The knowledge based authentication uses data drawn from the signor’s public records (like credit reports) to ask 5 questions only the signor can answer within a limited period of time. If you have difficulty answering these questions, you will have difficulty passing the authentication process. This authentication process is similar to the process used by the Social Security Administration to set up an online SS account. If you want to see what it is like, go online to the SSA and try to set up an account. You should have an online SS account anyway.

If the document must be witnessed, each witness must also pass the two step authentication.

Third and fourth steps are required if the document is a will, a trust, a health care advance directive (living will or health care surrogate designation), a waiver of spousal rights, or a power of attorney – in essence a life planning document.

With these documents, the principal (signor) must answer three questions stating whether they are under the influence of any drug or alcohol that impairs their ability to make decisions, whether they have any physical or mental condition or disability that impairs their ability to perform activities of daily living, and whether they require assistance with daily care. These questions are designed to identify “vulnerable adults” as defined by Florida statutes § 415.102. Vulnerable adults can only use RON if the witnesses are physically present with them at the time of signing.

After answering the questions listed above, the principal must then answer five more questions stating if they are married and the name of their spouse, the names of anyone who assisted in accessing the video technology, the names of anyone who assisted in preparing the documents they are signing, their location at the time of signing, and the names of everyone in the room with them when signing.

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