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Who are we to doubt Shakespeare? In Henry VI, Part II, Act 4, Sc. 2, 77 Dick the butcher declares that

The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.

Having had some recent experiences with some lawyers who

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can only be described as scum excrement, I feel strongly that the Bard is onto something! My recent experience is only compounded by the monotonous (and arguably useless) property closings I have attended in the past. My real estate attorney at the time (may he rest in peace), advised me that real estate law is one of the last bastions for attorneys to make (unnecessary) money by contriving a long, arduous, elongated exchange of documents and signatures that, when it is all said and done, benefit only the attorneys retained to attend them. An interested party quoted in the source article for this blog suggests that:

[The need to personally sign the paperwork for a real estate closing] has been the last domino to fall.

So, I ask the question, why can’t we just digitally sign the paperwork? (Perhaps a simple thumbs up via a Skype video conference?) For example, when we have a mortgage on a property, the Bank owns the property, so as long as I sign the promissory note, it’s really the Bank that cares about the deed. We have gone paperless on so many aspects of our lives, why not real estate transactions.

If we can reliably vote for a President of the United States of America, surely we can give a digital “OK” to committing to a mortgage! We can file our tax returns electronically, surely we can digitally sign a deed. The New York Times recently published an article on this matter, and it highlights that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have already begun accepting “e-signatures”.

A number of Neuralytix’s partners already use digitally signed contracts. Now, the obvious question is (a) legitimacy of the digital signature; (b) the provenance of the signature; and (c) the validity of a signature applied without the signatories first reading the actual document to which the signature is being applied.

Part (c) is just a common- (or not so common-) sense issue. Ignorantia legis non excusat, or ignorance of the Law is no excuse has been an accepted axiom since Roman times. The NY Times article points out that it is not to avoid a closing altogether, but to reduce the multi-hour closing to (say) 20 minutes. It is also important to note that given the amount of legal discovery work that is being outsourced and off-shored, and the increasing amount of electronic discovery (eDiscovery) that is taking place, digital documents can actually make retrieval and litigation quicker.

I don’t know about you, but anyone who can help get rid of unscrupulous, money grabbing ambulance chasers such as the one with which I dealt recently should be given a sainthood.

Disclaimer: Neuralytix, nor the author, condones the execution of any capital crime. Any reference thereto is merely a quotation of previously published fictional works. This blog is published with tongue firmly implanted in cheek. Neuralytix and the author encourages all to “do the right thing”, and observe the Laws of the state in which they live.

Source: The New York Times