Maine Becomes 40th State With RON Legislation

May 5, 2022

Maine joined 39 other states to allow remote online notarization (RON) after Gov. Janet Mills signed into law LD 2023. The legislation will go into effect July 1, 2023.

The bill permits any notarial officer in the state to perform notarial acts for a remotely located individual. The bill also includes security measures, including identity proofing and recording requirements.

“We applaud the leadership and efforts of Secretary Bellows, her staff and the members of the Judiciary Committee for supporting this important piece of legislation,” said Robin Watts, Maine state counsel for First American Title Insurance Co. “Recognizing the consumer demand for greater flexibility in document notarization, LD 2023 modernizes Maine’s notarial law while maintaining key consumer protection safeguards. This is a win for homebuyers and sellers, and the real estate professionals that serve them, who can now execute and notarize important legal documents remotely in a secure and legally compliant manner, enhancing the efficiency and convenience of the real estate transaction closing process.”

Ashley Fischer, senior compliance officer for CATIC, said passage of LD 2023 marked a progressive step for the state.

“This bill will enable Maine title professionals to offer more closing options to consumers and better serve their needs in an ever-evolving real estate market,” Fischer said. “CATIC looks forward to supporting its agents who are looking to conduct RON real estate transactions to ensure a seamless closing experience for all stakeholders.” 

Highlights of the legislation:

  • Requires the notary to be in Maine to conduct a RON transaction. The bill modifies the current residency requirements, which limit applicants to residents of Maine and residents of New Hampshire who are employed in Maine or operate a trade or business in Maine.
  • The audio/visual recording must be retained for at least 10 years.
  • Notary must inform the Secretary of State that they will perform RONs and identify the technology to be used.
  • A notary may use communication technology to perform the act for a remotely located person if:
    • The notary has personal knowledge of the remote person’s identity, has satisfactory evidence of the identity of the remotely located individual by oath or affirmation from a credible witness or has obtained satisfactory evidence of the identity of the remotely located individual by using at least two different types of identity proofing.
  • Notaries shall maintain a journal that chronicles all notarial acts that the officer performs. The officer shall retain the journal for 10 years after the performance of the last notarial act chronicled in the journal.
  • Notaries may select one or more tamper-evident technologies to perform RONs. The Secretary of State is to determine what technology is permissible via a rule-making process.
  • A register of deeds may accept for recording a tangible copy of an electronic record containing a notarial certificate.
  • A notarial act performed in another state has the same effect under the laws of Maine as long as the act is performed by a person authorized by that state’s law to perform a notarial act.

Title agents can save up to $100 per transaction and lenders up to $444 per loan when electronically closed with RON, according to a study by MarketWise Advisors. A 2021 digital closing survey by ALTA, found 52% reported closing times decreased utilizing RON due to the number of documents signed ahead of time, while 43% reported cost savings. Implementing RON technology comes with a cost, however. The average expense to implement RON—including software, equipment and training—was just under $30,000 per office, according to the survey.

 

ALTA continues to support the SECURE Notarization Act, which now has 83 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives. The bill would permit immediate nationwide use of RON, create national minimum standards for its use and provide certainty for the interstate recognition of RON.

 

Make sure to get a free listing in the ALTA Title & Settlement Agent Registry (ALTA Registry) if you’re company offers RON closings. The ALTA Registry identifies title and settlement companies that can perform RON closings. This helps mortgage companies identify closing companies that offer this increasingly in-demand service.

 


Contact ALTA at 202-296-3671 or communications@alta.org.

Join us May 16-18, 2022 in Washington DC at the Hilton Washington DC National Mall The Wharf for our annual ALTA Advocacy Summit.