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Notary Information, Laws, And Facts    Nationwide

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Recent Notary Law Changes 

January, 2012

Chapter 269 (AB 75 Hill)  (Follow This Link For Actual Law)

  • Subscribing Witness
    This act adds power of attorney to other documents that cannot be authenticated by a subscribing witness. It also prohibits the use of a subscribing witness for any documents requiring a notary public to obtain a thumbprint from the principal in the notary public journal.
  • Protest
    This act specifies that only a notary public employed by and acting on behalf of a financial institution can perform a protest.
  • Secretary of State Authority
    This act gives the Secretary of State the right to refuse a request to perform a service or filing submitted for unlawful, false or fraudulent purposes
    .

January, 2009

Chapter 67 (AB 2452 Davis) (Follow This Link For Actual Law)

This act adds another class of documents to the list of acceptable types of identification a notary public may use to identify a person. The new documents include an employee identification card issued by a California governmental agency or office. The identification card must have been issued within the last five years and must contain a photograph and description of the person, the signature of the person, and an identifying number.

Additionally, a subscribing witness can no longer appear before a notary public and prove identity based on personal knowledge alone. The subscribing witness must bring a credible witness and the credible witness must have identification, and prove identity by satisfactory evidence.


March 20, 2012 Proposed California Notary Law Changes


Urgent: Possible Change in Notary Law

 

Notice of Proposed Regulatory Action for Notaries Public in California:

 

Notice was given this month by the Secretary of State that under authority established in California Government Code 8220, the California Secretary of State proposes to implement, interpret or make specific Section 20804 of the California Code of Regulations by revising the California Notary Disciplinary Guidelines set forth in 2001.

 

There are no plans for a public hearing on this unless there is an objection, which is why it is so important you weigh in on this as a notary public in the state of California!  If there is no interest or hearing, it will become adopted as part of  Notary Public Disciplinary Guidelines.


Tell us what you think of the new proposals outlined in this information.


 

The purpose stated for revising the Notary Public Disciplinary Guidelines of 2001 is as follows:

 

1.     To reflect the changes in law made by several statutes.  These statutes are: Statues of 2003, Chapter 513, Statutes of 2007, chapter 496, Statues of 2007, chapter 339, Statutes of 2008, chapter 67, and Statutes of 2011, chapter 269.

2.     To clarify the Secretary of State’s process for handling cases that have gone to an administrative hearing and petitions for reinstatement or reduction of penalty and;

3.     To incorporate the Secretary of State’s experience in the last decade in dealing with offenses and misconduct by applicants for appointment as a notary public and commissioned notaries public.

 

The disciplinary guidelines are designed essentially to facilitate due process and give consistency for reviewing applications, investigating alleged violations of  California notary laws and instituting administrative disciplinary actions.  They are also designed to assist administrative law judges, attorneys, notaries public, notary public applicants, and others involved in the disciplinary process.  These guidelines were last revised effective March 31, 2001 to require stricter qualifications for both notary public applicants and commissioned notaries public with convictions. 

 

These are the Proposed Changes, Tell us what you think!

 

1.              A felony conviction may allow an appointment if ten(10) years have elapsed from the end of parole or probation and the Secretary of State finds the applicant possesses the requisite honesty, credibility, truthfulness and integrity to fulfill the responsibilities of the position.  Currently, the bar is Permanent.

 

2.              A conviction for a misdemeanor or lesser offense may allow an appointment if five (5) years have elapsed form the end of parole or probation and the Secretary of State finds the applicant possesses the requisite honesty, credibility, truthfulness and integrity to fulfill the responsibilities of the position. Currently, the bar is ten (10) years.

 

3.              The explicit statement that a second disciplinary action will permanently bar appointment has been removed.

 

4.              The distinction between willful and negligent actions has been removed due to a 2008 legislative change.

 

5.              New sections 8214.1 (Q) and (R) have been added as grounds for revocation, suspension or denial since they became law in 2008.

 

6.              A new section dealing with the Secretary of State’s process for handling cases that have gone to an administrative hearing has been added.

 

7.              The section dealing with petitions for reinstatement or reduction of penalty has been rewritten to make the process clear for the Secretary of State and the petitioners.

 

The Secretary of State’s assessment of economic impact shows that there will be no effect of economic impact to, housing costs, small businesses, school districts, state agencies, and local agencies because it is not a “major regulation”.  Also, there will be no significant statewide adverse economic impact directly affecting business, including the ability of California business to compete with businesses in other states, or impact any jobs in California negative or positive.

 

In fact, The Secretary of State only finds that the benefits of the disciplinary guidelines are that it better protects the design of the disciplinary guidelines as mentioned here previously.

 

For more information you can visit www.sos.ca.gov and look up: Notice of Proposed Regulatory Action Title 2, Section 20804 CCR; Notary Public Disciplinary Guidelines

 

We here at Develop Point Education are committed to the instruction, development and involvement of Notaries Public in California and want to hear your input before we give ours. 


We have until April 6, 2012 to weigh in with our thoughts or need for a hearing on these proposals.  This is your opportunity to be a voice in the very Notary Public Disciplinary Guidelines that directly affect you!


Click here to voice your opinion.


The California Notary Public


Notary Administration
A notary public in California is under submission to the Secretary of State.  Today the Secretary of State is Debra Bowen.  To get in touch with the Secretary of State's office you may call 1-916-653-3595 or write to Secretary of State Notary Public Section, P.O. Box 942877 (or 1500 11th St. 2nd floor) Sacramento, CA 94277-0001. The website is: www.ss.ca.gov/business/notary/
How To Become A Notary Public 
Before you can become a notary public in California, you must:
Meet The Eligibility Requirements
Take a State Certified Notary Training Course
Take and pass a state proctored exam
File An Oath And Bond
Purchase A Notary Seal and Journal

Commission:

Term of Office: The term of office for a notary public is four years starting with the commencement date stated in the commission issued by the California Secretary of State.  This is true whether an appointment is for the first time or whether the person has been issued a previous commission. The critical starting date is the commencement date stated in the commission, rather than the date the commission was issued or mailed by the California Secretary of State or the date the commission was received by the person in the mail. However, a person cannot serve as a notary public until both their oath of office and bond have been filed with the county clerk, and both must be filed within 30 days of the commencement date of the four-year term stated in the commission.  A notary public commission issued by the California Secretary of State does not take effect unless the oath of office and bond are filed on time with the county clerk. If the 30-day deadline is missed, the commission is invalid.


Geographic Jurisdiction: A notary public’s jurisdiction is not limited to the county in which the notary public’s oath and bond are filed, but a California notary public cannot perform notarial acts outside of the borders of California. Additionally, a notary public appointed to serve on a military or naval reservation is authorized to act only within the boundaries of the reservation for which he or she is appointed.


Notarial Acts Performed

There are six notarial acts performed by notaries public in the state of California.

1. Acknowledgements which are the most common form of notarization

2. Jurats which are the second most common form of notarization

3. Proofs of Execution which may only be performed on acknowledgements with some exceptions.

4. Protests

5. Copy Certifications

6. Oaths and Affirmations 


Notary Fees 
There are three basic rules about the fees a notary public can charge. First, there are maximum fees allowed by law that a notary public can charge. A notary public cannot charge more than those maximum fees. Second, except for notaries public employed for and on behalf of a state or county public agency, a notary public is not required to charge a fee at all. A notary public could decide, for example, not to charge a fee for completing a certificate of acknowledgment or providing a photostatic copy of his or her journal pages. Also, a notary public’s employer could make it a condition of employment that the notary public charges no fee for notarial services. Third, whether or not a notary public charges a fee, the notary public must record the actual amount charged in the notary public’s sequential journal, including writing zero to indicate no fee was charged. In other words, a number or zero must be reflected in the notary public’s journal to complete the record for each notarial act. 

Maximum Fees Allowed:

For an acknowledgment or proof of a deed, or other instrument, including the seal and writing the certificate, $10 for each signature acknowledged.

For administering an oath or affirmation to one person and executing the jurat, including the seal, $10.

For all services in connection with the taking of any deposition, $20, and an additional $5 for administering the oath to the witness and $5 for the certificate to the deposition.

For every protest for the nonpayment of a promissory note or for the nonpayment or nonacceptance of a bill of exchange, draft, or check, $10.

For serving every notice of nonpayment of a promissory note or of nonpayment or nonacceptance of a bill of exchange, order, draft, or check, $5.

For recording every protest, $5. 

For certifying a copy of a power of attorney under California Probate Code section 4307, $10.

$.30 per line item copied from the notary public’s journal.


Required Fees: If a notary public is appointed to act for and on behalf of a state or county public agency as an employee of the agency, fees must be charged for all services and those fees must be remitted or turned over to the employing agency. 


When Fees Cannot Be Charged: There are very specific times when a notary public is prohibited from charging a fee: ␣␣Notaries public appointed to military or naval reservations cannot charge a fee for any

notarial service or act.

A notary public cannot charge for notarization of an affidavit, application, or voucher in

relation to securing a pension. 

A notary public cannot charge for notarization of a signature on an application by a United States military veteran for a claim for a pension, allotment, allowance, compensation, insurance or any other veteran’s benefit. 

A notary public cannot charge to notarize signatures on vote by mail ballot identification envelopes or other voting materials.

A notary public cannot charge for notarizing any nomination document or circulator’s affidavit.


 

The Notary Public Journal

 A notary public must keep only one active sequential journal at a time containing all notarial acts. Keeping more than one active journal is never allowed. For example, if a notary public performs notarial acts at multiple offices, that notary public cannot use and store a separate notarial journal at each office. Instead, that notary public must use one journal and take that one journal to each office where services are performed.


All official acts performed as a notary public must be recorded in the notary public’s active journal at the time the act is performed. The journal entries must be made sequentially by recording each notarial act in order of occurrence one after the other. 


The notary public’s journal is the exclusive property of the notary public and cannot be surrendered to anyone (except as required with respect to a peace officer and county clerk as specified below). No person except the notary public can have access to the notary public’s journal outside of the notary public’s presence and must be stored in a locked and secured area that is under the direct and exclusive control of the notary public, for example a locking file cabinet, a safe or locked office. Failure to secure the journal may result in suspension or revocation of the notary public’s commission and civil and criminal penalties. 


A notary public must surrender their official journal immediately, or as soon as possible if the journal is not present, to a peace officer acting in his or her official capacity who has reasonable suspicion the journal contains evidence of a criminal offense and who is investigating that criminal offense.  If a notary public surrenders the official journal, or if the notary public’s official journal is stolen, lost, misplaced, destroyed, damaged, or otherwise rendered unusable, the notary public must obtain a new journal. If the old journal is returned or found, entries must not be made in the old journal. The notary public must continue to use the new journal. 


If a notary public resigns, is disqualified, or is removed from office, the notarial journal and all other notarial records must be delivered to the clerk of the county in which the notary public’s current oath is on file within 30 days of the resignation, disqualification or removal. Additionally, if a notary public’s commission expires and the notary public has not obtained reappointment within 30 days after the expiration of the commission, then the notarial journal and other notarial records must be delivered within the next 30 days to the county clerk. 


Recording The Journal Entry

The following discussion describes and explains the information that must be recorded in the journal.


1. The date and time the notary public performed the notarial service. The time may be written in standard or military format, but the law requires the time of the act to be recorded – the date alone is insufficient. 

2. The type of notarial act performed. 

3.The character of every instrument sworn, affirmed, acknowledged, or proved before the notary public. The “character of every instrument” means the kind or type of document on which the signature is being notarized. Most notarial acts relate to another person signing or certifying a document. A description of the document containing the notarial act must be recorded in the journal in addition to the type of act performed.  If more than one document contains notarized signatures, the notary public must record the title or character of each document. A separate line must be used for each document.

4. The signature of each person whose signature is being notarized. 

5. A statement as to whether the identity of the person making an acknowledgment or taking an oath or affirmation was based on satisfactory evidence. (A notary public must always obtain satisfactory evidence to prove the identity of a person making an acknowledgment or taking an oath or affirmation. The journal entry for all acknowledgments, jurats and proofs of execution must include a statement indicating satisfactory evidence was obtained). 

6. If the notary public accepted an identification document as listed in California Civil Code sections 1185(b)(3) and (b)(4) to meet the requirements of “satisfactory evidence,” then the notary public must record the type of identification document, the governmental agency that issued the identification, the serial or identifying number on the identification document, and the date the identification document was issued or expires. If the “satisfactory evidence” is based on the oath or affirmation of a single credible witness, then the journal must contain the signature of the credible witness or the type of identification document presented by the credible witness, the governmental agency that issued the identification, the serial or identifying number on the identification document, and the date the identification document was issued or expires. It is best though not California law to obtain both the signature of the single credible witness and record the identifying document in the journal.  If the “satisfactory evidence” is based on the oath or affirmation of two credible witnesses, then the journal must contain the signatures of each of the credible witnesses and the type of identifying documents presented by each of the credible witnesses, the governmental agency that issued each identification document, the serial number or other number on each identification document, and the date of issue or expiration of each identification document. 

7. The fee charged for the notarial act. If no fee is charged, “0” should be indicated. Only fees for the notarial act should be listed in the “fee” column of the journal. If there are additional charges for travel or other services, those additional charges may be itemized in the “additional information” or “comments” column to distinguish those types of fees from notarial act fees. 

8. If the document with the notarized signature is a deed, quitclaim deed, or deed of trust affecting real property, or a power of attorney, the notary public must require the party signing the document to place his or her right thumbprint in the journal as part of the line item entry for the transaction. If the right thumbprint is not available, then the notary public must have the party use his or her left thumbprint, or any available finger and must record the left thumbprint or which other fingerprint is captured in the journal. If the party signing the document is physically unable to provide a thumbprint or fingerprint, the notary public must record that fact in the journal and must provide an explanation of the physical condition of the person. The thumbprint is not required for trustee’s deeds for a decree of foreclosure or a nonjudicial foreclosure, or a deed of reconveyance. 



The Notary Public Seal
A notary public must have and use a seal purchased from a vendor or manufacturer authorized by the California Secretary of State. 

Form of Seal: The notary public seal must be photographically reproducible, (the county recorder might not accept a document if the notary public seal is illegible), have a serrated or milled edge border, must clearly and legibly contain the State Seal, the words Notary Public, the notary public’s name, the commission expiration date, the county wherein the oath and bond are filed, the commission number assigned to the notary public, and the sequential identification number assigned to the manufacturer or vendor by the California Secretary of State. The seal may be circular, but not over two inches in diameter, or may be rectangular and not more than one inch in width by two and one-half inches in length. 

Generally, because the seal must be photographically reproducible, the rubber stamp seal has become almost universal. However, notaries public may use an embosser seal in addition to the rubber stamp or may use an embosser seal as the official seal if the embosser seal is inked.

Obtaining a Seal: A notary public can purchase a seal only from a manufacturer or vendor authorized by the California Secretary of State.  The California Secretary of State issues certificates of authorization with which a notary public can obtain an official notary public seal. Only the original certificate of authorization, not a copy, can be used to purchase the seal. A certificate of authorization to obtain an official seal will be provided by the California Secretary of State with the notary public’s commission.


Securing the Seal: The notary public’s seal must be kept in a locked and secured area, under the direct and exclusive control of the notary public. The notary public seal is the exclusive property of the notary public, and must not be surrendered to an employer upon termination of employment, whether or not the employer paid for the seal. Remember, like the notary journal, no one else except the notary public can have access to the seal. An office safe or file cabinet that is accessible by others, even if locked, is not acceptable, nor is a locked desk at home, if other family members have access to the contents of the desk.


Use of the Seal: A notary public must use the seal solely for the purpose of carrying out the duties and responsibilities of a notary publicThere is only one situation when the seal is not required. The use of the seal is not required for acknowledgments on California subdivision maps since the material used for such maps is generally not compatible with ink used on seals. In this one case, the notary public’s name, the county of the notary public’s principal place of business, and the commission expiration date must be typed or printed below or immediately adjacent to the notary public’s signature on the acknowledgment.

All elements of the seal must be visible. The seal should not be placed over signatures or any printed matter on the document. If the seal impression is not clear, the notary public should affix a new impression and never attempt to fix the old one, even if this requires attaching a separate notarial certificate.


Lost or Damaged Seal; Destroying Seal: Any notary public whose official seal is lost, misplaced, destroyed, broken, damaged or is rendered otherwise unworkable must immediately mail or deliver written notice of that fact to the California Secretary of State. If requested by the notary public, the California Secretary of State will issue a new certificate of authorization for a seal within five working days after receipt of the notice, which a notary public may use to obtain a replacement seal. 

The notary public, or his or her representative, must destroy or deface the seal upon termination, resignation, or revocation of the notary public’s commission or the death of the notary public. 



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