Is it necessary to obtain thumbprints for every document that is notarized in California, or does that rule just apply to deeds? — J.B., Costa Mesa, CA
Current law requires a journal thumbprint for all documents affecting real property — not just deeds, quitclaim deeds and deeds of trust — as well as all power of attorney documents (Government Code, Section 8206). The only exceptions are a trustee's deed resulting from a decree of foreclosure; a nonjudicial foreclosure pursuant to Civil Code Section 2924 or a deed of reconveyance.
On all other documents, obtaining the signer’s thumbprint in the journal is not required; however, it is a practice that is recommended by the National Notary Association. Increasingly, Notaries are asking document signers to leave a thumbprint for all notarial transactions. It is a strong deterrent to forgery, as it represents absolute proof of the signer's identity and proves the signer was present before the Notary. Nothing prevents a Notary from asking for a thumbprint for every notarial act, if the signer is willing. However, a Notary may not refuse to notarize a document if the signer has complied with all other laws governing notarization and the document type is not one that requires a journal thumbprint.
Hotline answers are based on the laws in the state where the question originated and may not reflect the laws of other states. If in doubt, always refer to your own state statutes.— The Editors
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