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Update on RON in Wisconsin

Dear WLTA Members,

It's hard to believe that just over one month ago my family and I were wrapping up plans for our spring break in New York City, with a stop over at Notre Dame for our son's hockey tournament. Switch forward 1 month and we've completely changed our tune but with some good coming out of this in the form of family time - hikes, bikes, projects, games and cooking have been the theme of COVID-19 (with me gaining the COVID-20?). 

On the work front, we went from greeting sellers and buyers at our reception desks, handing them a cup of coffee or water, pulling out their chairs, shaking hands, sharing pens and high fiving at the end of the closing. Now we're scared to be within 6 feet of anyone. 


But I digress. The purpose of this communication is to get our membership up to speed on Remote Online Notarization in Wisconsin. As you are aware, Governor Evers signed Wisconsin's RON Bill into law on Tuesday March 3, 2020 (now 2019 Wisconsin Act 125 - https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2019/related/acts/125.pdf). By its terms, the Act's effective date is May 1, 2020 with another 4 months for the Department of Financial Institutions to promulgate rules. 

Switch forward just 10-days to Friday March 13th. The World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 a public health emergency and Gov. Evers mandated the statewide closure of K-12 schools in Wisconsin. Simultaneously the Governor reached out to his Departments, including the  Department of Financial Institutions (DFI), on how to implement social distancing. The DFI, aided by a team of people including me and Brad Hoeschen, fast tracked the use of RON by issuing its Emergency Guidance on RON the evening of Wednesday March 18th. 

Now that RON is operational in Wisconsin and social distancing has become the norm, the DFI is starting to revisit RON and promulgate rules (which under normal circumstances would have been promulgated August/September 2020). To assist the DFI in its rulemaking process, the RON Act provides for the creation of a Remote Notary Council composed of:

The Remote Notary Council is charged with adopting standards to implement Wisconsin's RON (Section 140.145, Wis. Stats.) and assist the DFI in its rulemaking. 

For the rulemaking the DFI is charged with the obligation to:

The WLTA Board met last week to nominate the person to serve on the Remote Notary Council, subject to gubernatorial appointment. I was happy to accept that nomination, but only because we will be handling this as a team. Brad Hoeschen and I will be working closely with the DFI on the rulemaking every step of the way to represent both the underwriter and agent perspectives on how this will work. We'll keep you informed on the Council's progress in the coming months. 

"PAPERING OUT" Provision

As part of the Board's commitment to keep the WLTA membership informed about RON, periodically we may provide members some forms that can be used for settlements. To that end we are providing the form which can be used when a document is electronically signed/notarized (either in person or remotely) but when a PAPER copy of the digitally signed document must be handed to a 3rd party for recording in the land records (such as a "split" closing). You can access the form on our COVID-19 page, under the 4/14/2020 update. The form is based on Section 140.20(3):

This form has been provided to all Wisconsin Registers of Deed. No concerns were raised. 


If you want to know more about eClosings and RON, you might find this FREE webinar on April 23rd from October Research and Softpro inciteful: https://globalmeetwebinar.webcasts.com/starthere.jsp?ei=1304135&tp_key=1eaf4a5201. And if you missed the initial recording of the WLTA sponsored "COVID-19: Creating Your Action Plan for Digital Closings" on March 25th, not to fret, the FREE recording is available here: 

Stay Safe everyone. 

YOUR WLTA President,

Cheri Hipenbecker

[email protected]

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