December 10, 2020 – Two uniform acts were approved for inclusion in the Council of State Governments' (CSG) "Shared State Legislation" compilation at the CSG SSL's recent meeting. The Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (2018) and the Uniform Electronic Wills Act – included as "shared state legislation" – were drafted and approved by the Uniform Law Commission (ULC).
The Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (2018) is designed to modernize and clarify the law governing notaries public, their responsibilities and duties, and to provide a stable infrastructure for the performance of notarial acts with respect to electronic records. In particular, the revised act recognizes the ascendance of electronic commerce and transactions in the public and private sectors, and brings the law governing electronic notarial acts on par with laws governing other forms of electronic transactions. A 2018 Amendment allows remote online notarization through the use of audio-visual recording and identity proofing technology.
The Uniform Electronic Wills Act permits testators to execute an electronic will and allows probate courts to give electronic wills legal effect. Most documents that were traditionally printed on paper can now be created, transferred, signed, and recorded in electronic form. Since 2000 the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) and a similar federal law, E-SIGN have provided that a transaction is not invalid solely because the terms of the contract are in an electronic format. But UETA and E-SIGN both contain an express exception for wills, which, because the testator is deceased at the time the document must be interpreted, are subject to special execution requirements to ensure validity and must still be executed on paper in most states. Under the new Uniform Electronic Wills Act, the testator's electronic signature must be witnessed contemporaneously (or notarized contemporaneously in states that allow notarized wills) and the document must be stored in a tamper-evident file. States will have the option to include language that allows remote witnessing. The act will also address recognition of electronic wills executed under the law of another state. For a generation that is used to banking, communicating, and transacting business online, the Uniform Electronic Wills Act will allow online estate planning while maintaining safeguards to help prevent fraud and coercion.
Further information on each of these Uniform Acts can be found at the ULC's website at www.uniformlaws.org.
What is Shared State Legislation (SSL)?
Launched in 1941, the Council of State Governments' Shared State Legislation - or SSL - program, previously known as Suggested State Legislation, is both a member-driven process and an annual publication detailing topics of current importance to the states. The CSG SSL Committee, comprised exclusively of state officials, meets annually to review legislation adopted in the states. The committee then selects legislation to be included in the annual SSL volume. These volumes are published online for dissemination to state leaders and staff.
CSG does not promote or advocate for the enactment of state legislation, nor does it draft model legislation. Rather, the program's goal is to facilitate the sharing of legislative ideas among CSG members. The consideration of dissemination of such legislation by the SSL Committee does not constitute an endorsement, nor will CSG advocate for the enactment of any such legislation in any member jurisdictions.
About the Uniform Law Commission
The Uniform Law Commission is comprised of more than 350 practicing lawyers, governmental lawyers, judges, law professors and lawyer-legislators, who are appointed by each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to research, draft and promote enactment of uniform state laws in areas of state laws where uniformity is desirable and practical. Now in its 129th year, the ULC has provided states with over 250 uniform acts that help bring clarity and stability to critical areas of state statutory law.
About the Council of State Governments
Founded in 1933, the Council of State Governments is the country's only organization serving all three branches of state government. CSG is a region-based forum that fosters the exchange of insights and ideas to help state officials shape public policy. This offers unparalleled regional, national and international opportunities to network, develop leaders, collaborate and create problem-solving partnerships.
Contact: Katie Robinson, ULC Communications Officer, krobinson@...
Uniform Law Commission / 111 N. Wabash Ave., Suite 1010, Chicago, IL 60602 / 312-450-6600, www.uniformlaws.org
Legislative Program Director