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Old 02-06-2015, 11:04   #1
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Difficulties in managing assets while abroad

One of the more cruiser related legal issues posed to me recently came from an American Ex-Pat living in the Islands. I thought it was an interesting enough issue to repost it here and share with the forum.

In addition to the traditional documents that need to be notarized like real estate transfers, and wills. More and more financial documents are also requiring notarization to be effective. In part this is driven by the general conservative nature of financial institutions (at least with their own money), in part because of the current concern over identity theft. While living in the country this isn’t really much of a concern, since worse case you can just run down to the bank and get things notarized.

However when living or traveling overseas it is almost impossible to have something notarized that will be recognized in the US. For major transactions there is an international treaty that allows cross certifications between notaries, but in practice this is a very cumbersome problem that for the majority of things doesn’t really resolve the problem. For more normal notarizations the only real option is to travel to a US Embassy or Consulate and arrange for them to notarize a document. Of course this places you at the mercy of a Consulate official’s schedule. Who sees the need to simply notarize something as an annoyance instead of part of their job.

To resolve this difficulty I have worked out with my client to retain on file a general (unlimited in scope) but limited (in authority) power of attorney for him. The major limitation is that in order for me to sign anything on his behalf I must append a copy of specific authorization for the document in question from his email address. This allows me to ‘upgrade’ his written authorization to a notarized document via the power of attorney I have on file for him.

We did this a few months ago and I held off on writing about it until today when I heard back that the scheme we cooked up was authorized by their underwriters. In each case it took a little more work on their part. But it saved my client from needing to take three trips back to the States just to sign documents.

For those of you now living aboard it may be worth speaking to your attorney to arrange something similar.
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Old 02-06-2015, 11:24   #2
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Re: Difficulties in managing assets while abroad

Didn't try it but had reason to consider this issue recently.

There is an online notary. I think they are out of N.C. You get online with them and they watch you sign over the video feed and then notorize based on that, so you can get an official US notary.
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Old 02-06-2015, 11:25   #3
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Re: Difficulties in managing assets while abroad

This makes me wonder at what point in my life I need to find an attorney to call my own........am I too simple?


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Old 02-06-2015, 11:45   #4
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Re: Difficulties in managing assets while abroad

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This makes me wonder at what point in my life I need to find an attorney to call my own........am I too simple?
Just hire Greg. Plus he knows boats. What more could you ever want?
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Old 02-06-2015, 21:27   #5
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Re: Difficulties in managing assets while abroad

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Originally Posted by valhalla360 View Post
Didn't try it but had reason to consider this issue recently.

There is an online notary. I think they are out of N.C. You get online with them and they watch you sign over the video feed and then notorize based on that, so you can get an official US notary.
It is an interesting idea. At least in Louisiana an act notarized like this would be of questionable validity. It might fly, but I would also feel pretty confident taking something like this to court. The legal community is by nature conservative, and this seems like a pretty big stretch. At least for documents where the signer is outside the state that authorizes electronic notarizations (I know Virginia allows this).

But I am equally sure that no title company in Louisiana would be willing to accept this.
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Old 02-06-2015, 21:32   #6
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Re: Difficulties in managing assets while abroad

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Originally Posted by Sailmonkey View Post
This makes me wonder at what point in my life I need to find an attorney to call my own........am I too simple?


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Probably not. How many contracts do you sign a year, and how complicated is your estate and investment plan?

At a minimum I recommend everyone have a simple will, and durable medical power of attorney (and HIPPA waiver). But having someone you can call about insurance contracts, leases, even real estate questions is often money well spent.

At the simplest you can probably get away with just an online generator, but I wouldn't. Pay the couple hundred bucks for a general practice attorney to look over the documents and make sure there aren't any major problems.
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Old 02-06-2015, 22:08   #7
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Re: Difficulties in managing assets while abroad

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It is an interesting idea. At least in Louisiana an act notarized like this would be of questionable validity. It might fly, but I would also feel pretty confident taking something like this to court. The legal community is by nature conservative, and this seems like a pretty big stretch. At least for documents where the signer is outside the state that authorizes electronic notarizations (I know Virginia allows this).

But I am equally sure that no title company in Louisiana would be willing to accept this.
Actually, it's more to cover the Notary. Thier primary role is to document who signed what.

As long as they are a licensed notary and they stamp and sign off that it's legitimately signed by the people in question, there is little reason that anyone would question how it got notarized.

In fact if it came down to a court case where two sides are debating who's signature is on the document. Assuming they probably record the video, who do you think would win:
- One side has a guy saying he saw the signatures take place.
- Other side has a guy saying he saw the signatures take place and has video of the actual signature along with everyone stating thier names and what they are signing along with showing ID.

This is mostly an issue of the system slowly catching up to technology.
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Old 02-06-2015, 22:10   #8
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Re: Difficulties in managing assets while abroad

No affiliation and we haven't had to use them, so take it for what it's worth:

https://www.notarycam.com/international/#how-it-works
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Old 03-06-2015, 02:52   #9
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Re: Difficulties in managing assets while abroad

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No affiliation and we haven't had to use them, so take it for what it's worth:

https://www.notarycam.com/international/#how-it-works
$79 a pop? I guess it makes sense if the foreign based notary and an apostille is more than that. I think US embassies charge about $50 for theirs. So may be the convenience is worth the extra cost.
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Old 04-06-2015, 04:46   #10
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Re: Difficulties in managing assets while abroad

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$79 a pop? I guess it makes sense if the foreign based notary and an apostille is more than that. I think US embassies charge about $50 for theirs. So may be the convenience is worth the extra cost.
Yes, but you have to physically get to the Embassy (Consulate technically) and most require an appointment. I was charged $60 last time. But the Consulate's notarization is indisputably valid...notary by video would be questionable in most venues.

A lot of business are going to electronic online signature systems...a much more convenient way to do business remotely. I signed several contracts like this recently. The extent of identity verification on some is a bit disturbing (or reassuring depending on perspective)...they pull up extensive public records data and formulate questions based upon the data. I had to stop and think for a minute to answer a few of them.
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Old 04-06-2015, 04:50   #11
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Re: Difficulties in managing assets while abroad

Something else to consider is the nature of the document being notarized. Some entities just want this to cover their ass...its purely for their benefit and does not effect the legality of the contract. In that situation, I have FAXed over a signed agreement and told them they would just have to wait on the CYA notary.

You do also run across the occassional cruiser who is a notary. I think this is at least as questionable as the video notary, but gets it done conveniently.
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Old 04-06-2015, 04:55   #12
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Re: Difficulties in managing assets while abroad

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...

However when living or traveling overseas it is almost impossible to have something notarized that will be recognized in the US. For major transactions there is an international treaty that allows cross certifications between notaries, but in practice this is a very cumbersome problem that for the majority of things doesn’t really resolve the problem. For more normal notarizations the only real option is to travel to a US Embassy or Consulate and arrange for them to notarize a document. Of course this places you at the mercy of a Consulate official’s schedule. Who sees the need to simply notarize something as an annoyance instead of part of their job.

...
Ive done a number of international transactions requiring notary and have yet to find a USA entity that would accept a foreign notary, but I have had foreign entities accept USA notaries.
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Old 04-06-2015, 05:12   #13
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Re: Difficulties in managing assets while abroad

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Ive done a number of international transactions requiring notary and have yet to find a USA entity that would accept a foreign notary, but I have had foreign entities accept USA notaries.
I know the Coast Guard documentation web site says they will only accept US Notaries. I don't know if they will enforce it though.
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Old 04-06-2015, 09:30   #14
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Re: Difficulties in managing assets while abroad

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Ive done a number of international transactions requiring notary and have yet to find a USA entity that would accept a foreign notary, but I have had foreign entities accept USA notaries.
This is covered by the Hague Convention of 1961 to which US is a party. A foreign notarized document has to be "apostilled" in the country of origin meaning the foreign gov't official attests that the foreign notary's commission is valid, etc. Same if the US notarized doc goes to a foreign country.

In US apostillization is pretty straightforward and inexpensive, around $10 or less in most states, and most of the time can be accomplished via pre-paid snail or express mail with some states now allowing online apostillization (I think FL is one of them but I may be wrong).

That is the proper way to present any notarized document outside the country of its origin. Any country which is a party to that Convention HAS TO ACCEPT an appostilled notarized document from another jurisdiction which is also a party to that Convention.
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Old 04-06-2015, 11:52   #15
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Re: Difficulties in managing assets while abroad

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This is covered by the Hague Convention of 1961 to which US is a party. A foreign notarized document has to be "apostilled" in the country of origin meaning the foreign gov't official attests that the foreign notary's commission is valid, etc. Same if the US notarized doc goes to a foreign country.

...
Ive had documents apostilized (?) a few times...has taken a long time with Central American countries, but nominal cost.

Ive had USA notarizations (?) accepted without being apostilized too.
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