CA Assembly Bill 2452 | NNA
Law

CA Assembly Bill 2452

Notary Law Update: CA Assembly Bill 2452

State: California

Summary:

Assembly Bill 2452 adds a new form of written identification to the list of state-approved IDs a Notary may accept to identify document signers and changes the requirements for identifying subscribing witnesses. Whereas previously a Notary could identify a subscribing witness based upon the Notary’s personal knowledge or a credible witness personally known to the Notary, AB 2452 now requires a subscribing witness to be identified by one credible witness who presents a state-approved ID card as identification.

Signed:  July 03, 2009

Effective:  January 01, 2009

Chapter: 67

Affects:

Amends Civil Code Sections 1185 and 1196 and Government Code Section 8206

Changes:
  1. Adds an employee ID card issued by an agency or office of the State of California or any city, county or city and county to the list of written identification documents a Notary may accept to identify document signers.
  2. Repeals the previous provision allowing a Notary to identify a subscribing witness based upon the Notary’s personal knowledge of the witness or through a credible witness who is personally known to the Notary.
  3. Clarifies that a Notary may identify a subscribing witness only upon the oath or affirmation of a credible witness who presents a state-approved written identification card that satisfies Section 1185 of the Civil Code.
  4. Makes minor conforming changes.
Analysis:

Assembly Bill 2452 began as a bill that sought to lengthen from three to six hours the mandatory “refresher” course a Notary renewing a commission was required to take and to raise from $10 to $25 the fees a Notary could charge for most notarizations. However, these two principal provisions were struck from the bill and AB 2452 now introduces two main changes. First, it expands the list of state-approved IDs a Notary may accept to identify document signers to include any employee card issued by a city and/or county or the state of California, provided the ID is current or has been issued in the past five years, and contains a photograph, signature and physical description of the bearer. Second, it attempts to remove one of the major inconsistencies that resulted from last year’s legislation. In 2007, AB 886 banned personal knowledge as a method of identification for acknowledgments and jurats, but left it intact for identifying subscribing witnesses for a proof of execution. AB 2452 removes personal knowledge and the use of a credible witness who is personally known to the Notary as methods of identification for proofs and allows Notaries to identify subscribing witnesses only through one credible witness who presents a state-approved ID card that satisfies the requirements of Civil Code Section 1185.

Clearly, AB 2452 was intended to “clean up” inconsistencies caused by last year’s legislation, but it can be argued that it creates more problems than it solves. While one or two credible witnesses may be relied upon as identification for acknowledgments and jurats, effective January 1, 2009, only one witness is needed to identify a subscribing witness. Historically, California law has sought to limit the use of proofs of execution — by disallowing the procedure to be used with certain real property documents and requiring the subscribing witness to be personally known to the Notary or identified through one credible witness who was personally known to the Notary. Curiously, AB 2452 relaxes the identification requirement for proofs, making subscribing witness notarizations easier, rather than harder, to perform.

In addition, AB 2452 does not amend the statutory notarial certificate wording for a proof of execution in Civil Code 1195 to reflect the changes made to Civil Code Section 1196. The certificate language retains the wording, “… personally appeared (name of subscribing witness), personally known to me (or proved to me on the oath of [credible witness’s name], who is personally known to me) …” (emphasis added). This undoubtedly is a major oversight and may occasion the need for further “clean up” legislation.

Read the bill text.

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