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NEBRASKA NOTARY LAW SEMINAR Charting the Changes of LB315 John A. Gale Secretary of State.

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Presentation on theme: "NEBRASKA NOTARY LAW SEMINAR Charting the Changes of LB315 John A. Gale Secretary of State."— Presentation transcript:

1 NEBRASKA NOTARY LAW SEMINAR Charting the Changes of LB315 John A. Gale Secretary of State

2 Presenters:  John A. Gale, Secretary of State  Greg Lemon, Chief Deputy Secretary of State  Deb Pester, Deputy Secretary of State, Business and Licensing Division

3 WHY THE CHANGE? TThere have been no significant changes to Nebraska Notary Law in over 30 years PPrior law did not address basic principles of notary law such as proof of identity and conflict of interest IIssues like identity theft, equal access to services for the disabled, and malfeasance in office were not addressed in the prior law

4 Becoming A Notary Applying for your Commission as Notary Public or Renewing Your Commission

5 Significant Changes  The 25 signature requirement to become a notary is dropped and replaced by a test requirement  Specifically prohibits convicted felons or anyone who has been convicted of a crime involving fraud or dishonesty from becoming a notary  Raises the bond amount from $10,000 to $15,000 dollars

6 The Application Process  Test  Application and Bond  Change of Address

7 TEST  New applicants will be required to take the test  The test is available upon request from the Secretary of State  The test should be taken (and passed) prior to submitting your application and bond  Applicants who have let their notary commission expire must take the test

8 TEST (continued)  The test will be an “open book” type test designed to show that the applicant has the knowledge to properly perform the duties of a Nebraska Notary  Questions will be based upon Nebraska statutes and procedures relating to notary laws  The test must be completed by the applicant with no assistance from others  If you fail the test you may take it once more, if you fail again you must wait six months before retaking the test

9 Application  The application form is available on our website or upon request from our office  You must be 19 years of age or over  You must not have been convicted of a felony or crime involving fraud or dishonesty  You must be a resident of the State of Nebraska (working in Nebraska, but living in another state does not meet statutory requirements for residency)  You must pass the test  You must submit the application fee ($30) and the bond ($15,000) with your application

10 Bond  A surety bond in the amount of $15,000 dollars is required (formerly $10,000)  A bond form is available on our website, it is not mandatory to use the form, but any substitute form should substantially comply with the provisions on the form provided  Bonds are generally available from full line insurance agents

11 Renewal  Your commission as notary public is good for four years, we do not currently send renewal notices  Renewal applicants do not need to take the test unless their commission has expired at the end of its four year term  Renewals should be sent in within thirty days of your commission expiration date (look on your seal if you don’t know the date!)  All other requirements, fee, bond, etc. are the same as those for initial applicants  The renewal form is available on our website or upon request from our office  You must still be a resident of the State of Nebraska

12 Change of Address  Should your residence address change while commissioned as a notary you are required to notify the Secretary of State within 45 days under the new law  The change of address form is available on our website or upon request from our office  Should your residence change while commissioned as a notary in Nebraska to a non-Nebraska residence you must surrender your seal and commission immediately to the Secretary of State

13 Being A Notary Public Practices and Procedures Under Nebraska Law

14 A Nebraska notary public is an official government officer, just like a law enforcement officer, judge, or elected official. As a public officer there are certain powers and duties defined by law that the notary must follow in order to fulfill their official obligations. Failure to fulfill these obligations may result in removal from office or even civil or criminal liability.

15 Significant Changes  Specifically defines satisfactory proof of identity for purposes of performing notarial acts  Expressly provides that notarial acts may only be performed when the principal is “in the presence of” the notary  Provides a notary may not perform a notarial act if they are in the same immediate family as the principal

16 Significant Changes (continued)  Provides procedure for signature by mark for those unable to sign by reason of physical incapacity  Prohibits advertising as a “Notario Publico” or the unauthorized practice of law by any non-attorney notary  More specifically defines malfeasance in office by a notary public

17 Performing the Notarial Act  Jurisdiction  Forms of Oaths and Acknowledgments  “Appeared before me”  Proof of Identity  Signature By Mark  Reviewing the Document  Role of the Notary  Dotting the “i”s and crossing the “t”s

18 Jurisdiction and Powers  As an officer of the state a notary, like a police officer or judge, has a jurisdiction, or area in which they may exercise their powers  A Nebraska notary may act as such anywhere in the State of Nebraska

19 Jurisdiction and Powers  There is one class of general Notaries Public, all with the same powers:  Administer Oaths and Affirmations  Administer Acknowledgments  Take Depositions

20 Forms of Oaths and Acknowledgements  LB315 did not change the form of oaths and acknowledgements used in Nebraska  The Uniform Recognition of Acknowledgments Act is found at Neb. Rev. Stat. §64-201 et. Seq. and in the Notary Public Handbook  LB315 provides that the non attorney notaries should not determine or write the attestation clause to be used  However, there should be some sort of attestation clause when a notarial act is performed, simply signing as notary public, dating, and stamping the seal is not a proper notarial act.  Certain Oaths are prescribed in statute or even the constitution

21 “Appeared Before Me”  LB315 adds language to more specifically state that a notarial act must only be performed when the principal appears before the notary  Administering an oath over the phone or by video conference is not administering an oath in the presence of the notary  Putting your notary seal and signature on a document that was signed “just a few minutes ago in the office next door” is not performing a notarial act in the presence of the principal  The principal and the notary must be in the same room or location and able to effectively communicate by hearing and or writing at the time the notarial act is performed

22 Proof of Identity  A notary should not perform any notarial act without proper proof of identity or personal knowledge of identity of the principal

23 Proof of Identity (continued)  LB315 more clearly states the proof of identity standard to be used by notaries  The principal must be identified through “Satisfactory Evidence”  “Satisfactory Evidence” means either: 1) a government issued identification card with picture, signature and physical description  2) A passport  3) The oath or affirmation of one credible, unaffected, witness who is personally known to the notary and who personally knows the principal  4) The principal is personally known to the notary through interaction over a period of time

24 Signature By Mark  LB315 provides that a notary may certify signature by mark for those unable to sign a regular signature or sign the name of someone unable to affix their signature by mark  Signature by mark must be witnessed by two unaffected parties who will sign their name by the mark of the notaries signature for the principal  Additional instructions on signature by mark are included in your handbook and on the Secretary of State’s website

25 Reviewing the Document  A non-attorney notary should not review the document to be acknowledged or sworn to for content or legal sufficiency  A notary should look for blank lines on the document, blank lines should be crossed out or completed by the principal or principals prior to notarization (failure to do so leaves the document open to easy alteration after the notarial act is performed)

26 Role of the Notary  Don’t advise the principal about the document, a non-attorney notary should not advise the principal on legal matters  Do consider the capacity and demeanor of the principal. If the principal does not seem to be coherent, understand the proceedings around them, or not have the capacity to enter into binding agreements because of age or disability do not notarize the document

27 Role of the Notary (continued)  Notaries are not required to perform requested notarial acts (however, discrimination in offering services is prohibited under appropriate, federal, state or local law)  The decision whether or not to perform a notarial act may be up to your employer; however, if a notarial act is to be performed it should always be performed correctly according to law

28 ALWAYS: Perform Notarial Acts with the principal in your presence Require proper proof of identity (if the principal is not personally known to you) Fill in the blanks in the notarial certificate and make sure that any blank spaces are filled in on the document Check to make sure signature, dates, and jurisdiction are correct on the document Dotting the “i”s and Crossing the “t”s

29 MALFEASANCE IN OFFICE (Naughty Notaries)

30 Malfeasance Defined  LB315 specifically defines malfeasance in office to mean failure to follow the procedures and requirements for notarial acts provided for in the Nebraska notary law (Ch. 64, Articles 1 & 2) or  Being convicted of a felony or other crime involving fraud or dishonesty  Upon finding after an administrative hearing that a notary has committed malfeasance in office, the notary’s commission shall be suspended or revoked

31 Complaint Procedure  The Secretary of State has developed a complaint form for complaints against notaries public  The form is available on our website or from our office upon request  Complaints received are investigated by the Secretary of State as appropriate and forwarded to the notary for response  If the Secretary determines that malfeasance in office may have occurred the notary is given the option of surrendering their commission or having a hearing to make a formal determination on the allegations  If the Secretary of State determines that malfeasance did not occur, the complaint will be dismissed, but remain on the record in the notary’s file

32 Do’s and Don’ts  A list of suggested do’s and don’ts for notaries is included in your Notary Public Handout and available on our website  Some of the suggestions on the list are not specifically outlined in statute, but are considered “best practices”

33 Miscellaneous  Record Keeping  Fees  Apostilles and Authentications  Mobile Notary Signing Agents

34 Record Keeping  State law does not require any specific record keeping by notaries  The Secretary of State strongly recommends the use of notary journals  Notary journals record time and date of notarial acts, who was present, form of identification, etc.  Notary Journals are available through state and national notary association and business supply stores  Many complaints filed with the Secretary of State’s Office could be settled quickly if a complete notary journal entry were recorded at the time of the notarial act

35 FEES  A notary may charge $2.00 for administering an oath and $5.00 for each notarial certificate and seal completed, and mileage for actual miles traveled to perform the act  The mileage rate is established by the state and piggybacks off the IRS business mileage rate  The 2004 rate is 37.5 cents a mile  A notary whose commission was paid for by their government employer may not charge the above fees  The statutory fee for taking a deposition is repealed by LB315

36 Apostilles and Authentications  Apostilles and Authentications are issued by the Secretary of State (address is in our handout and the end of this powerpoint presentation) for use in international transactions  The Secretary of State certifies that the notary or other official named on the document is authorized to act as such in Nebraska and the signature matches the signature the Secretary has on record  Apostilles are issued to countries that are part of the Hague convention, Authentications are issued to all other countries

37 Apostilles and Authentications Continued  Notaries, judges, county clerks etc. are not authorized to issue authentications or apostilles  If you are called upon to perform a notarial act on a document to be used for an international transaction pay particular attention to making sure everything is in order, the seal is stamped without overlapping the document, dates and venue are correct, etc.  Rejection of a document that has been “apostilled” or authenticated may cause someone who has traveled overseas to complete an adoption, for example, to be unable to complete the transaction

38 Mobile Notary Signing Agents  The idea of the “Mobile Notary Signing Agent” has been promoted widely as a service to clients and a way for notaries to earn income  While the practice of Mobile Notary Signing Agent is not illegal, it is also not specifically authorized in statute  Fees for notarial services are established by law and may not be exceeded, for more information go to the Secretary of State’s notary website


40 NEBRASKA NOTARY HANDBOOK  Definitions  Practices and Procedures  Signature by Mark  Notary Statutes

41 Questions?

42 THANK YOU! JOHN A. GALE Nebraska Secretary of State Business Services Division: Notary 1445 “K” St., 1301 State Capitol Bldg. PO Box 95104 * Lincoln, NE 68509 (402) 471-2558 or (402) 471-4094

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