AR House Bill 1450 | NNA
Law

AR House Bill 1450

Notary Law Update: AR House Bill 1450

State: Arkansas

Summary:

HB 1450 allows Notaries to set their own reasonable fees, authorizes Notaries to refuse to perform a notarial act under certain circumstances, provides rules for a signature by mark and signature by third party, and provides rules for notarial certificates.

Signed:  March 20, 2017

Effective:  July 31, 2017

Chapter: Act No. 537

Affects:

Amends Sections 21-6-309, 21-14-101 and 21-14-107 of the Arkansas Code.

Changes:
  1. Strikes the maximum statutory fees a Notary may charge and allows Notaries to set their own reasonable fees upon disclosure and agreement of the fee by the consumer before performing the notarial act. 
  2. Sets a minimum penalty of $100 for a Notary who violates the new fee provision. 
  3. Prohibits an employer from canceling a Notary bond of a current or former employee even if the employer paid for the bond. 
  4. Allows Notaries to refuse to perform a notarial act if the signer: (a) Does not appear to understand the nature of the transaction that requires the notarial act; (b) Does not appear to be acting of his or her own free will; (c) Lacks the ability to sign a notarial document using letters or characters of a language that is understood by the notary public; and (d) Is not able to communicate directly with the Notary  in a language understood by the principal and the Notary.
  5. Allows a Notary to notarize a signature by mark provided there is one disinterested witness present other than the Notary and the Notary writes below the mark, “Mark affixed by (name of signer) in the presence of (name(s)) of witnesses).” 
  6. Allows a signer who cannot sign his or signature or make a mark to direct a disinterested third party to sign on his or her behalf provided: (a) There are 2 additional disinterested witnesses present; (b) The third party signs the principal’s name in the presence of the signer, Notary and 2 witnesses; (c) Each witness signs his or her name beside the signer’s signature; (d) The Notary writes below the signature, “Signature affixed by (name of third party) at the direction and in the presence of (name of principal unable to sign or make a mark) and also in the presence of (names of two witnesses)”; and (e) the Notary completes a notarial certificate for the act.
  7. Requires a notarial certificate that is worded in English.
  8. Specifies that a notarial certificate must include: (a) The official signature of the Notary; (b) The official seal of the Notary; (c) The venue of the notarial act, including the name of the state and county; and (d) The date of the notarial act.
  9. Provides that a notarial certificate is incomplete if (a) The information within the notarial certificate is known or believed by the Notary to be false; (b) A Notary affixes an official signature or seal on a notarial certificate that is incomplete; (c) An official signature or seal on a notarial certificate is known to be executed at a time when the principal or signer was not present; or (d) A signed or sealed notarial certificate is executed with the understanding that the notarial certificate will be completed or attached to a document outside of the presence of the Notary.
Analysis:

House Bill 1450 as introduced at the request of the Secretary of State for the purpose of addressing errors committed by Notaries in completing notarial certificates. The new law prescribes the elements of a notarial certificate and clarifies when a certificate of a notarial act is incomplete. The new law also makes other important changes. Notably, it allows Notaries now to set their own reasonable fees for the notarizations they perform after disclosing the fee to the signer before performing the notarization. It also permits a Notary to refuse to perform a notarial act under certain circumstances. And, the bill allows a Notary to notarize a signature by mark and signature by a third party who signs the document for a signer who cannot write or make a mark. Rules for both the signature by mark and signature by third party are specified in the new law.

Read the bill text.

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