A New California Notary Law
A new law regarding California notaries went into effect on January 1, 2012. One of three main changes to California notary law in 2012 is that a subscribing witness may not sign a Power of Attorney in California in a case where a signer is too frail or unwell to appear before a notary. In other words, it is now clearly mandated that a person giving someone else Power of Attorney in California must be well enough to appear personally before a California notary. There are situations in which an actual signer can’t appear before the notary and a subscribing witness may be used, but this is not as strong as having a California notary take an acknowledgement, and ought not to be allowed in most situations. In matters involving finance and property, California previously made clear that important documents such as mortgages and securities may not be signed by a subscribing witness; instead, the acknowledgment must be taken by the notary with the proper signer present. In 2012, California has now wisely added POA to the list of documents that may not be signed by a subscribing witness.
The second of the changes to California notary law in 2012 sets forth the rule that only California notaries who work for the financial institution concerned may demand payment or accept payment on “foreign bills of exchange” for the institution –and only these California notaries may protest for nonpayment. The third change in the law makes clear that these notaries who work for financial institutions will of course no longer be paid a fee for such services—as an independent notary would have been. The world of banking has its own notaries for all occasions, California notary law reminds us.
(1) A new 2012 California notary law – subscribing witnesses may no longer sign Power of Attorney in certain cases.
(2) Important documents such as Mortgages & Securities may not be signed by subscribing witnesses.
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To see current 2011 & 2012 California Acknowledgment wording information and California Jurat verbiage information, just visit:
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Notary laws are often based on antiquated social customs and laws. Many notary laws in Louisiana are based on the old Spanish and French laws which make it extremely different from the rest of the United States. Louisiana is sort of a foreign country controlled by our government. The language is English, but the laws are not. California notary law used to have some old rules too for identifying a signer.
In olden times, people lived in smaller communities, traveled less, and had less access to the outside world. In those days you knew your neighbors and knew them well. California notary laws and laws in many states allowed a notary to use personal knowledge of an individual as a way to identify them for a notarization. But, in 2011 with people flying all around, and nobody really knowing anyone, you can not really use personal knowledge as an identifying technique anymore. People don’t even know their wives and children that well these days! After 9/11, the laws changed in many states. It took a few years for the state governments to react, but standards for identification were raised. You can still identify signers using credible witnesses which I feel is false identification. The credible witnesses don’t really usually know the signer that well, and have to be reminded of the signer’s name in many cases. The most common form of identification is a driver’s license, state ID card, or password.
In any case, California notary laws for identifying a signer for an acknowledged signature are tougher now that personal knowledge is not allowed. But, signers also need to be identified for Jurats which never used to be the case. In the last few years, the California notary wording or California notary Verbiage for Acknowledgment and Jurat forms has changed a little bit as well.
Oaths and Affirmations in California have now become a merged act. You just choose whether you want it to be an affirmation or oath in the paperwork.
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California Notary Law Changes
Notary law has changed tremendously in the last few years across the nation, but the single most important event that shaped notary law was 9/11. It took several years for the various state notary divisions to react and change their notary laws after this catastrophe, but they surely did. Several of the terrorists were easily able to get fraudulent social security cards and drivers licenses. The hijackers paid $100 to an illegal immigrant who had also fraudulently gotten his Virginia driver’s license — to execute the residency affidavit for the 9/11 hijackers before a Virginia notary public. This notarized document from Virginia was sufficient proof to get a Virginia driver’s license which they needed to get on the airplanes. The Virginia notary public involved in this transaction was prosecuted by homeland security.
After that incident, it was found that tens of thousands of fake Virginia identification cards and driver’s licenses were circulating, and Virginia made law changes as a reaction. Notarized documents were no longer sufficient proof to get a driver’s license. Virginia was not the only state to react to this catastrophe. The California notary division, and many others reacted too. Law changes started happeneing slowly, generally in 2005 and 2006.
Some of the main changes to California notary law were that personal knowledge of a signer was no longer grounds for personal knowledge. California notaries also are responsible to make sure the document being notarized is not fraudulent. Jurats now require being positively identified in California and almost every other state in the nation. There are other laws that changed, but now governments are being careful about identification and preventing fraud.
In my personal opinion, California should never had had liberal identification standards to begin with. The governments reaction to 9/11 is like frantically putting on your seat belt right after an accident. The time to wear your seat belt is BEFORE an accident, which means all the time. Additionally, the credible witness procedure in California and many other states is just as ludicrous as the personal knowledge form of identification. If you personally know someone, how well does it mean that you know them? There has never been a definitive standard other than that you knew them from a chain of events and people in various contexts which has several lines of text in legalese which nobody can make much sense of. Credible witnesses do not usually know a signer well enough to identify them before a public official. They know a signer as “Joe” their neighbor, and job could tell them his last name was Wagner, and the CW’s would swear to that before the notary when they don’t even know. California is still careless with its notary laws in many ways.
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