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New Law Changes Requirements for Notarial Acknowledgments, Proofs of Execution and Jurats

December 1, 2014

The California Assembly has passed a law that will change the form and wording of certificates of acknowledgment, jurat and proof of execution. A jurat is the clause at the bottom of an affidavit that shows when, where, and before whom the affiant swore an oath or made an affirmation. These requirements will affect the format of documents used in real estate transactions as well as in some business transactions.

What is the New Law and What Does it Require?

The bill passed by the assembly is SB 1050 which will amend Sections 1189 and 1195 of the Civil Code and Section 8202 of the Government Code. It was approved by the governor back on August 15, 2014, and will take effect on January 1, 2015. California law allows authorized notaries public to execute acknowledgment or proof of execution of an instrument and jurats attached to sworn affidavits. Up until now the state required that the certificate of acknowledgment, proof of execution, or jurat be in a specific form. Under the new law, that form will change. Now a legible notice will have to be included in an enclosed box on those documents. That box will have to state that the acknowledgment, proof of execution, or jurat verifies only the identity of the individual who signed the document as opposed to verifying the truthfulness, accuracy, or validity of the document. The law also provides a sample of the required boxed notice. The sample is just an example and is not the only format of the boxed notice that would comply with the law.

What Does SB 1050 Mean?

The National Notary Association analyzed the effect of SB 1050. The main effect of the law is that it now requires a consumer disclosure clause. That is the portion of the notice that will say, "A notary public or other officer completing this certificate verifies only the identity of the individual who signed the document to which this certificate is attached, and not the truthfulness, accuracy, or validity of that document." While this may have gone without saying for notaries and for savvy consumers who use notary services regularly, it may not have previously been evident to consumers who do not regularly use notaries. The National Notary Association quotes the author of the bill as saying:

When people are unfamiliar with the meaning and effect of a notary's seal and signature, there is an opportunity for criminals to pass deceptive legal documents claiming a false right to money, authority, or real property by inferring, suggesting, or stating that the notary's seal and signature constitute an official endorsement of authenticity. SB 1050 seeks to reduce fraud by including a clear consumer notification statement as to the limited effect of a notary's seal and signature. People unfamiliar with notary seals who are studying a fraudulent document presented to them will not give undue consideration to a notary seal as an official endorsement of authenticity and legal correctness.

The end effect of this could be quite positive for business owners involved in property or other disputes if those disputes ultimately wind up in court. Previously jurors may have given undue weight to notarized documents being used against you, but documents notarized after January 1 will not carry that possible risk.

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