California Notary Law Change

There’s a new California Law that just went into effect this New Year that at first glance may seem like it has little effect on you.  California Senate Bill 1050 affects the language required on a notary certificate, specifically it changes the form and wording of the statutory certificates of acknowledgment, jurat and proof of execution. 

What does that mean?

Essentially, the law requires a prescribed consumer disclosure box at the top of each of these certificates that are being notarized.   That means that any document that you have which requires a notary now needs to include this required boxed language at the beginning of the notary section to be legal:  

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. 

According to the author of the Bill, Monning, “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.”

In our office we notarize a variety of legal documents, including Living Trusts, Power’s of Attorney, Advanced Health Care Directives and Deeds for Real Property.   Beginning January 1, 2015 any documents that are signed and notarized need to have the above required language in a box at the beginning of each notary section in order for them to have legal effect.  This is not a retroactive requirement, only that any documents signed from this point on need to include the disclosure language.  This is important information for you in case you had a deed or trust prepared last year that you hadn’t yet signed or gotten recorded.  As well as any future documents that you sign from this point on.  As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at our office.

Brian Chew, the managing partner of OC Wills & Trust Attorneys, has extensive experience in the areas of estate planning, asset protection planning, business succession planning, long-term care planning, and veterans’ benefits. By devoting his practice to estate planning matters, he has founded a firm that strives to provide exceptional service to their clients by working closely with individuals and their families to create comprehensive and customized estate plans. For the past twenty five years, Brian has served thousands of clients in the matters of estate planning, wills and trusts. If you have any questions about this article, you can reach Brian Chew here.