BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Secretary of the Commonwealth Bill Galvin is raising concerns about a plan to make remote notarizations permanent in Massachusetts.
The proposal, already passed by the House, would allow public notaries in Massachusetts to remotely certify wills, trusts, home sales and other major transactions on a permanent basis.
In 2020, a law signed by Gov. Charlie Baker temporarily allowed for notarizations to be done via videoconference during the state's emergency declaration as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. While Baker's emergency rules expired in June 2021, state lawmakers have extended the temporary rules for remote notaries several times. The latest extension is set to expire Friday, July 15.
Secretary Galvin is urging the Senate not to pass the proposal, citing a high risk for fraud.
"It would put the credibility of the land title of people's homes at high risk," said Galvin. "The Land Court itself has spoken about the importance of not passing this bill. They have asked the legislature to delay it. They have asked for the opportunity to look into it. They've suggested they're going to refuse titles that are passed on this way. It opens the door for fraud without proper regulation. It's a bad idea."
Galvin believes lawmakers should extend the temporary rules to allow time to properly review the proposal for the next legislative session instead of rushing it through.
"There have to be safeguards. This is people's homes, this is the biggest investment of their lives for most people," said Galvin. "The idea that we put that at risk is a big mistake. It's being done because a lobbyist wants it done, and these days the lobbyists have some significance. They shouldn't."
WBZ's Mike Macklin reports.