Notarize: A Notary Service for the Digital Age

Having a document notarized is probably not something you find yourself having to do very often, but when you need to it can be a huge pain. So, the next time you need something notarized there is a much more convenient and geeky way to do it… Notarize.

Just upload the document and the Notarize service does the rest (Image from Apple's iTunes App Store)
Just upload the document and the Notarize service does the rest (Image from Apple’s App Store)

My wife and I recently went on a trip overseas and sent our teenage son to spend a few weeks with our parents in another state… all in the same summer. Then just last week my wife and I left town for a few days again. Both times we used the Notarize service to prepare a power of attorney for medical consent. Any time you are separated from your kids by a large distance or for an extended period of time it is generally a good idea to grant a power of attorney for medical consent to the adult(s) watching your kids. That way, if something were to happen while you were away, the family member or friend watching your child would be able to make time medical decisions in a timely manner for you. I’m not making this up; two days before my wife and I left town for a week, I was signing a medical consent form in an emergency room so the doctor could remove a fishing hook from my son’s head. If this had happened just a few days later and we didn’t have a notarized medical consent form for my parents, my son would have been waiting in the emergency room with a fishing hook in his head while we worked out the medical permissions from out-of-state over the telephone. While the fishing hook was not all that serious, it was still painful and not something you want to leave in your head any longer than you have to.

Back in the old days, you know… 2015 and earlier, you would have to physically go to a notary public and have them notarize the document for you. This may not seem like all that much of an inconvenience, but trust me it is. When we were preparing to leave the country, we figured we would just use our bank’s free notary service to notarize our medical consent power of attorney. But when we got to the bank they explained that they will only notarize a small subset of documents and a power of attorney was not one of the documents they would notarize. Having to find another notary service the night before you leave the country is not a good use of your time. There is a better way, like in your pajamas from the comfort of your own home! After all, isn’t that why we have technology, so we can do more things without having to put on pants?

So how is this even legal? Well… (from notarize.com):

“In 2012, the Commonwealth of Virginia enacted Senate Bill 827 and House Bill 2318, allowing appropriately certified Virginia notaries to complete remote notarization via live video call. Furthermore, Virginia gave its notaries the ability to notarize documents for a national audience.”

So in short, the state of Virginia allows notaries to provide a video call notary service. You can either notarize a document right from your computer via the notarize.com website or use the Notarize iOS app. It is a straight $25 fee per notarized document and the entire process is performed over a secure connection. All you need is a webcam (or an iOS device with a front facing camera), a valid ID, and the document you want notarized (and of course $25). The end result is even better than what you get when you go to a notary in-person because you get an electronic version of the notarized document that you can either print or share electronically. And it gets even better. Let’s say you leave your kids with someone and that someone has to take your kids to the doctor and the doctor’s office doesn’t trust this notarized document for what ever reason. Both the printed version and the electronic version of the notarized document have a web link, retrieval ID, and a PIN number to the notarize.com website that will then make available the recorded video session that created the notarized document. Then if that still isn’t good enough the web link will put them in contact with someone from the notary service to address their legal concerns. This is something that just isn’t possible using the old way of notarizing.

I opted to use the iOS app with my iPad Pro. The only complaint I had about the whole process was that the iOS app is an iPhone app. That means if you run it on an iPad it is just a blown up version of the iPhone app in portrait mode. But it worked just fine. I was able to use my Apple Pencil to sign the document right on my iPad.

Simple controls in the app allow you to easily complete filling out the document before getting it notarized (Image from Apple's iTunes App Store)
Simple controls in the app allow you to easily complete filling out the document before getting it notarized (Image from Apple’s iTunes App Store)

I used the app and within seconds I was doing a secure video call with a notary from Virginia. The whole process took less than 5 minutes and was able to do it all while sitting in the comfort of my own home in my pajamas.

Notarize created a short video that shows how the entire process works:

I’m not a lawyer, I don’t play one on TV, and I didn’t sleep at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but I do have one more thing for you. I had a hard time finding some standard wording for a medical consent power of attorney, so I did a little bit of homework (*cough* consulted an expert) and created one myself. Turns out there is nothing set in stone about how you word a medical consent power of attorney, but I would rather use standard wording than make something up myself. Each state has a different set of medical procedures that would need to be included in this letter and this letter is written for the state of Florida. I recommend you consult someone locally about the wording and what to include in your letter for your state. So here is a PDF of the template I used.

I can’t recommend this service enough. Its fast, convenient, secure, and better in every way than the traditional approach to getting something notarized. So next time you are in need of a notary, give Notarize a try.

A rocket-scientist, father of 3, amateur astronomer, piano/keyboard player and soon to be sci-fi author who wears his geek badge with pride.