The coronavirus crisis has prompted the search for all kinds of technological solutions, even in matters as apparently complex as making a will or granting a power of attorney for someone else to carry out a procedure on their own behalf.
José Corral, dean of the Notarial College of Cantabria and spokesman for the General Council of Notaries, the body presented a proposal to the Government two months ago that allows for a will or grant a power of attorney through a videoconference and with all legal guarantees. An initiative that is mainly aimed at vulnerable people (the elderly, people in poor health …) and whose main objective is to prevent them from physically going to a notary and getting covid-19.
“It is a problem that is happening and it is very serious. In the last few weeks I have been receiving practically one call a day related to this topic. We are encountering real estate sales operations that cannot be carried out because one of the owners cannot or does not want to go to the notary, and also with older people who want to leave the will as a precaution. Before the arrival of the coronavirus, the notary went to the home or the residence for the elderly and was solved, but now we cannot do that. If we have to go from residence to residence or from house to house, the risk of contagion would be very high ”, explains Corral.
The proposal presented by the General Council of Notaries to the Ministry of Justice and the General Directorate of Legal Security and Public Faith requires a legal reform (since they are public officials), which must be ratified by the Council of Ministers via Decree-law. Despite the fact that in recent weeks the notaries assure that they have had many conversations with the Ministry led by Juan Carlos Campo, and that he was interested in knowing how the notary procedures can be promoted electronically, sources from the agency assure that they are still studying the proposal.
What is the initiative
What the notaries propose is that a person can carry out different procedures through a computer, a mobile phone or a tablet: from creating a limited company to granting a power of attorney or electoral power, through making a will.
“Instead of going to a notary, the proposal is to do it by videoconference to avoid health risks. And the way would be very easy: enter the notary’s website, choose the one the citizen wants, close an appointment and, during the videoconference, the notary would ask him some questions and ask him to prove himself to confirm his identity ”.
In the case of granting a power of attorney, and as before the date of the videoconference, the citizen tells the notary what procedure he wants to carry out, he would ask him to show the DNI and would review the data of the attorney before certifying it.
The process is simplified if the citizen has an electronic signature or DNI 3.0, although it can also be formalized if he does not have it. Since you are thinking especially of the elderly, it would be enough to enter a kind of PIN number that would reach the mobile phone to be able to sign the procedure.
Notaries assure that, in the future, the signing of a will by video call would only be allowed in times of pandemic like the current one, while that option would be permanent in the case of granting a power of attorney. As a precedent is the development that is taking place at European level so that each country transposes into its legal system before the summer of 2021 a Community directive that allows the creation of a limited company by videoconference.
With this ‘pilot test’ as a backdrop, the General Council of Notaries recalls that during the state of alarm they have also opted for other telematic initiatives to formalize the moratoriums on mortgages or authorize policies of the Official Credit Institute (ICO) of agile and safe. And it also insists that it has the second most powerful technological network in Spain, second only to that of the Treasury, and that its level of digital infrastructure would allow it to create new functionalities in a very short period of time. “It would be enough to create a new space on the notary’s own website to be able to start it,” the agency concludes.