AK House Bill 97 | NNA
Law

AK House Bill 97

Notary Law Update: AK House Bill 97

State: Alaska

Summary:

Alaska comprehensively revises its Notary Public statutes.

Signed:  June 24, 2005

Effective:  July 01, 2005

Chapter: 60

Affects:

Amends Alaska Statutes 09.63.010, 09.63.030, 09.63.040, 09.63.090, 09.63.100, 44.19.024, 44.50.060; repeals and reenacts AS 44.50.010; 44.50.020; adds new sections 44.50.032, 44.50.033, 44.50.034, 44.50.035, 44.50.036, 44.50.037, 44.50.038, 44.50.039, 44.50.061, 44.50.062, 44.50.063, 44.50.064, 44.50.065, 44.50.066, 44.50.067, 44.50.068, 44.50.071, 44.50.072, 44.50.073, 44.50.200; repeals 44.50.030, 44.50.040, 44.50.070, 44.50.080, 44.50.090, 44.50.100, 44.50.110, 44.50.120, 44.50.130, 44.50.140, 44.50.170, 44.50.180(c), and 44.50.190

Changes:
  1. Establishes new qualifying requirements for an Alaska Notary Public commission: (a) Reduces the minimum age from 19 to 18: (b) Requires legal residence in the U.S. in addition to residency in Alaska; (c) Specifies that within 10 years before the commission takes effect the applicant must not: (i) have had a Notary commission revoked in Alaska or another state for failure of duty, or for incompetence or malfeasance in carrying out official duties; (ii) have had a Notary commission revoked in Alaska for failure to maintain residency in the state, unless residency is reestablished; or (iii) have been disciplined under AS 44.50.068 or the Notary laws of another state, if at the time of application the disciplinary action prohibited the person from holding a commission.
  2. States the several grounds under which the Lieutenant Governor may deny a Notary application.
  3. Specifies the required contents of the state’s Notary application, including an applicant’s recitation of any denial, suspension, revocation, or restriction of a prior Notary commission along with an affirmation that the applicant meets the qualifications for a commission.
  4. Clarifies that in addition to state employees, the Lieutenant Governor may commission municipal and federal employees as “limited governmental” Notaries, and persons holding a limited governmental Notary commission may also be commissioned as a Notary “without limitation.”
  5. Prohibits “limited governmental” Notaries from charging fees. (Note: Prior law stated that any fees received by the governmental Notary were to be remitted. This law [AS 44.50.170(c)] has been repealed.)
  6. Repeals the notarial acts of (a) protests and (b) “taking depositions and affidavits.” (Note: Alaska Notaries may administer oaths and affirmations, and AS 09.63.030 provides Notary certificate wording for a jurat.)
  7. Enacts a list of prohibited acts, including :(a) violating a state or federal law in notarizing; (b) Improper influence; (c) notarizing an incomplete document; (d) charging a fee for a notarial act unless the signer has been provided a fee schedule prior to performance of the act; (e) “affixing the … official seal to a document” unless the signer (i) is physically present before the Notary, (ii) acknowledges the signer’s willing acknowledgment, (ii) takes an oath or affirmation, if required by law, and (iv) is properly identified (see # 8 below); (f) notarizing the Notary’s own signature; (g) notarizing with a financial interest in the transaction beyond the fee allowed by law.
  8. Specifies proper identification for a notarial act as: (a) personal knowledge of the signer by the Notary; (b) presentation of a government-issued ID with a photograph and signature; or (c) presentation of a government-issued ID with a signature and another valid ID containing a photograph and signature.
  9. Repeals use of a seal embosser as the official seal on paper documents, but allows use of the embosser as an adjunct to the photographically reproducible stamp.
  10. Defines the Notary’s official seal as a photographically reproducible stamp (on paper documents) or a seal in electronic form (on electronic documents) in conformance with regulations adopted by the Lieutenant Governor.
  11. Requires that the official seal: (a) be affixed only at the time of notarization near the Notary’s signature; (b) be affixed sharply and legibly (although an illegible impression of the seal may be subsequently corrected by typing or printing the illegible information adjacent to, but not within, the original impression; (c) be kept secure as the Notary’s exclusive property and under the Notary’s exclusive control when not in use, and safeguarded against use by another person; (d) be destroyed or defaced upon the Notary’s resignation or death, upon revocation or termination of the commission, or when the Notary’s commission term ends if the Notary is not recommissioned; and (e) if stolen or lost, or if the electronic seal is compromised, be reported within 10 days to the Lieutenant Governor.
  12. Stipulates that the Notary sign all paper notarizations in the Notary’s own handwriting at the time of notarization only and in the name appearing on the official commission, or that the Notary sign an electronic document by electronic means as authorized by regulations to be adopted by the Lieutenant Governor. Requires a Notary to comply in a timely manner with a request by the Lieutenant Governor to supply a sample of the Notary’s handwritten signature or information regarding the Notary’s electronic signature.
  13. Requires a Notary to inform the Lieutenant Governor in writing of any breach in security of the Notary’s electronic signature within 10 days.
  14. Adds a new statutory acknowledgment certificate for persons representing a limited liability company.
  15. Clarifies that the statutory partnership acknowledgment certificate may be used by a limited partnership or limited liability partnership.
  16. Requires a Notary to submit written notification of a name or physical or mailing address change within 30 days of the change.
  17. Requires a Notary to submit written notification of a name, or a physical or mailing address change within 30 days of the change.
  18. Requires a Notary who has submitted a notification of name change and paid the required fee to use the former name when notarizing until the Notary has notified the surety of the name change, received a replacement commission certificate reflecting the new name, and obtained a new seal bearing the new name.
  19. Requires a Notary who has submitted a notification of name change to comply with requests for a new signature sample or to supply information regarding the Notary’s new electronic signature.
  20. Stipulates that to resign a commission voluntarily or due to the inability to meet the qualifications required of Notaries, a Notary must submit a signed notice of resignation in writing to the Lieutenant Governor, specifying an effective date.
  21. Prohibits as the unauthorized practice of law by a nonattorney-Notary the selecting of notarial certificates and assisting a person “in drafting, completing, selecting, or understanding a document or transaction requiring a notarial act” and representing that the Notary has powers, rights, or privileges the office of Notary Public does not have; however, the law does not prohibit a Notary who is qualified or licensed in a particular profession from giving advice in matters relating to that profession.
  22. Specifies grounds under which the Lieutenant Governor may reprimand a Notary, or suspend or revoke the commission of a Notary.
  23. Outlines the process for lodging a complaint against a Notary, investigating an allegation of misconduct, initiating disciplinary action against the Notary, and granting the Notary a hearing within 15 days of issuance of a reprimand, suspension, or revocation.
  24. Specifies that the Lieutenant Governor must retain the Notary’s bond for 2 years (previously 1) after the expiration of the Notary’s commission.
  25. Increases the fee for authentications from $2 to $5 per certificate
  26. Gives the Lieutenant Governor and the presiding officer of each legislative house the power to administer oaths and affirmations, and take acknowledgments.
  27. Repeals a previous provision allowing postmasters serving as ex officio Notaries to charge the same fees as other Notaries.
  28. Repeals a previous law requiring a Notary to return all the Notary’s public papers to the Lieutenant Governor upon death, resignation, disqualification, removal from office, or removal from the state.
  29. Makes many other changes
Analysis:

Alaska comprehensively revises its Notary Public statutes. This comprehensive new law is noteworthy in a number of important respects. It institutes tougher qualifications standards for applicants, adds clear identification standards for Notaries, outlines professional and ethical standards for performing notarial acts, empowers the Lieutenant Governor with disciplinary authority, authorizes Notaries to use electronic signatures and seals, and tasks the Lieutenant Governor with issuing regulations to govern the electronic acts of Notaries. Noticeably absent, however, is a formal journal requirement. Notwithstanding this omission, there is a lot to like about this new law. In particular, the fact that a number of sections in HB 97 are inspired by the NNAs Model Notary Act of 2002, the emphasis on the need to give Notaries a clear permission to use electronic signatures and seals, and the rule-making power it vests in the Lieutenant Governor, are important developments that are consistent with the NNA’s standards.

Read the bill text.

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