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Law

MD Senate Bill 678

Notary Law Update: MD Senate Bill 678

State: Maryland

Summary:

Senate Bill enacts the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (RULONA) and provisions for remote online notarization.

Signed:  May 13, 2019

Effective:  October 01, 2020

Chapter: 407

Affects:

Amends Sections 18-102, 18-103(d)(4), 18-104, 18-109, 18-110, 18-112, and 18-114 of, adds new Sections 18-201-18-227 to and repeals Sections 18-105 through 18108, 18111, and 18-113; and 19-101 through 19-301 of State Government Article in the Annotated Code of Maryland.

Changes:

Definitions

  1. Defines “acknowledgment,” “communication technology,” “credential analysis,” “electronic,” “electronic signature,” “foreign state,” “identity proofing,” “in a representative capacity,” “notarial act,” “notarial officer,” “notary public,” “official stamp,” “record,” “remote presentation,” “remotely located individual,” “sign,” “signature,” “stamping device,” and “verification on oath or affirmation.

Commissioning

  1. No longer requires an applicant for a Notary commission to be a citizen or permanent legal resident of the United States.
  2. No longer requires an applicant for a Notary commission to live or work in Maryland.
  3. No longer requires an applicant for a Notary commission to be able to read or write English.
  4. Requires an initial applicant for a Notary commission to have completed a course and passed an examination.
  5. Requires a renewal applicant for a Notary commission to have completed a course.
  6. Requires the Secretary of state to regularly shall offer a course of study and an examination that cover the laws, regulations, procedures, and ethics relevant to notarial acts.
  7. Provides that the course and examination may be offered through an entity approved by the Secretary of state.
  8. No longer requires out-of-state applicants commissioned as a Notary to qualify before the clerk of the circuit court in the city of Baltimore but requires applicants to qualify before the clerk of the circuit court in any county.
  9. Provides that the Governor may deny, refuse to renew, revoke, suspend or impose a condition on a commission as a Notary for any act or omission that demonstrates the individual lacks the honesty, integrity, competence, or reliability to act as a Notary, including: (a) a failure to comply with this title or regulations adopted under this title; (b) a fraudulent, dishonest, or deceitful misstatement or omission in the application for a commission; (c) a conviction of a felony or crime involving fraud, dishonesty, or deceit; (d) a finding against or an admission of liability in a legal proceeding or disciplinary action based on fraud, dishonesty, or deceit; (e) failure to discharge any duty required of a Notary, whether imposed by any federal or state law or regulations adopted by the Secretary of State; (f) use of false or misleading advertising or representation by the Notary representing that the notary public has a duty, right, or privilege that the Notary does not have; and (g) denial, refusal to renew, revocation, suspension, or conditions of a Notary commission by another state.
  10. Clarifies that notice and the opportunity for a hearing under St. Gov’t 18-104(a) and (b) of are not required to be given to an applicant for an initial commission as a Notary regarding the denial of the commission.
  11. Clarifies that notice and the opportunity for a hearing under St. Gov’t 18-104(a) and (b) must be given to an applicant for a Notary commission or Notary by first class mail.
  12. Clarifies that an action taken against the commission of a Notary does not preclude a person from seeking and obtaining any other criminal or civil remedy provided by law for redress of harm caused by the Notary.

Authority to Perform or Refuse to Perform Notarizations

  1. Repeals the prior law stating it is lawful for a Notary who is a stockholder, director, officer or employee of a bank or other corporation to take the acknowledgment of any party to any instrument executed by the corporation, administer an oath to any other stockholder, director, officer, employee or agent of the corporation, or protest negotiable instruments that may be owned or held for collection by the corporation.
  2. Repeals the prior law stating it is unlawful for a Notary to perform an acknowledgment or protest an instrument for the corporation of which the Notary is a stockholder, director, officer or employee if the Notary is a party to the instrument, or in the case of an acknowledgment, is a party to the instrument individually or as a representative.
  3. Authorizes a Notary or a person acting on behalf of a Notary to charge a maximum fee of $4 for the performance of a remote online notarization.
  4. Raises the per mile rate for travel that a Notary may charge for performing a notarial act from 19 cents a mile to the prevailing rate for mileage established by the Internal Revenue Service, in addition to a fee not to exceed $5.
  5. Authorizes the Secretary of State by regulation to set a different amount that a Notary may charge for a remote online notarial act.
  6. Repeals the former notarial act of “signature witnessing” that involved the Notary merely signing the document and affixing the Notary’s seal without completing a notarial certificate.
  7. Authorizes the Secretary of State to publish information relating to the status of the commission of a Notary or former Notary, including the date of commencement and expiration of any suspension, nonrenewal, or revocation of the commission.
  8. Authorizes Notaries to certify or attest a copy of a record and a tangible copy of an electronic record.
  9. Provides that a notarial officer who certifies or attests a copy of a record or an item that was copied shall determine that the copy is a full, true, and accurate transcription or reproduction of the record or item.
  10. Provides that a notarial officer who certifies that a tangible copy of an electronic record is an accurate copy of the electronic record must reasonably determine whether the electronic record is in a tamper-evident format and personally print or supervise the printing of the electronic record onto paper or other tangible medium.
  11. Prohibits a notarial officer from certifying that a tangible copy of an electronic record is an accurate copy of the electronic record if the notarial officer has detected a change or an error in an electronic signature or other information in the electronic record.
  12. Authorizes Notaries to perform the notarial act of witnessing or attesting a signature.
  13. Provides that a notarial officer who witnesses or attests to a signature shall determine, from personal knowledge or satisfactory evidence of the identity of the individual in accordance with St. Gov’t 18-206, that the individual appearing before the notarial officer and signing the record has the identity claimed.
  14. Prohibits a notarial officer from performing a notarial act with respect to a record to which the notarial officer or the spouse of the notarial officer is a party, or in which either the notarial officer or the spouse of the notarial officer has a direct beneficial interest and further provides that a notarial act performed in this manner is voidable.
  15. Authorizes a notarial officer to refuse to perform a notarial act if the officer is not satisfied that the individual executing the record is competent or has the capacity to execute the record, or the individual’s signature is knowingly and voluntarily made.

Appearance and Identification of Signer; Signature of Person Unable to Sign

  1. Provides that if a notarial act relates to a statement made in or a signature executed on a record, the individual making the statement or executing the signature must appear personally before the notarial officer.
  2. Provides that a remotely located individual may comply with the requirement to appear personally before a Notary by using communication technology.
  3. Provides that a notarial officer has personal knowledge of the identity of an individual personally appearing before the notarial officer if the individual is personally known to the notarial officer through dealings sufficient to provide reasonable certainty that the individual has the identity claimed.
  4. Provides that a notarial officer has satisfactory evidence of the identity of an individual personally appearing before the notarial officer if the notarial officer can identify the individual by means of a passport, driver’s license, consular identification, or government-issued nondriver identification card or another form of government identification issued to the individual that is current and unexpired at the time of performance of the notarial act, contains the signature and photograph of the individual and is satisfactory to the notarial officer.
  5. Provides that a notarial officer also has satisfactory evidence of identity if the notarial officer can identify the individual by a verification on oath or affirmation of a credible witness who is personally appearing before the notarial officer and known to the officer or whom the officer can identify on the basis of a passport, driver’s license, consular identification, or government-issued nondriver identification card.
  6. Authorizes an individual who is physically unable to sign a record to direct another individual than the notarial officer who is concurrently appearing before the notarial officer with the individual who cannot sign to sign the individual’s name on the record.
  7. Requires a notarial officer who notarizes the signature of an individual who is physically unable to sign a record and directs an third person to sign on his or her behalf to insert on the record the following words or words of similar import: “Signature affixed by (name of other individual) at the direction of (name of individual)”.

Notarial Certificate and Official Stamp

  1. Requires a notarial act to be evidenced by a certificate of the notarial act.
  2. Requires a notarial certificate to be executed contemporaneously with the performance of the notarial act.
  3. Requires a notarial certificate to include (a) the jurisdiction in which the notarial act is performed; (b) the title of the notarial officer; and (c) the date of expiration of the Notary’s commission.
  4. Requires a notarial certificate to be in English or in dual languages, one of which must be English.
  5. Requires a notarial certificate to be dated and signed by a Notary with the Notary’s signature in the same manner as on file with the Secretary of State.
  6. Requires a Notary to affix or emboss the Notary’s official stamp on the notarial certificate of a tangible record.
  7. Permits, but does not require, a notarial officer other than a Notary Public to affix or emboss an official stamp on the notarial certificate of a tangible record.
  8. Permits, but does not require, a notarial officer or Notary Public to attach or logically associate an official stamp on a notarial certificate on an electronic record.
  9. Clarifies that the text of a notarial certificate is sufficient if it meets the requirements of St. Gov’t 18-215(a) and (b), is in a short form as provided in St. Gov’t 18-216, is in a form otherwise allowed by Maryland law, is in a form allowed by the laws applicable in the jurisdiction in which the notarial act is performed, or sets for the actions of the notarial officer and the actions are sufficient to meet the requirements of Maryland law.
  10. Provides that by signing a notarial certificate, a notarial officer certifies he or she has complied with St. Gov’t 18-203, 18-204, 18-205, and, if applicable, 18-214.
  11. Prohibits a notarial officer from signing a notarial certificate on a tangible or electronic record until the notarial act has been performed.
  12. Requires a notarial certificate to be affixed to, or logically associated with, the tangible record or electronic record, and further requires a notarial officer to follow any standards for attaching, affixing or logically associating the notarial certificate, if the Secretary has established standards.
  13. Prescribes short form certificates for all authorized notarial acts, including the new notarial act of signature witnessing.
  14. Prescribes the following elements for the Notary’s official stamp: the Notary’s name, jurisdiction, office, county in which the Notary resides or was qualified, and any other information required by the Secretary of State.
  15. Requires the official stamp must be capable of being copied together with the record to which it is affixed or attach or with which it is logically associated (that is, on an electronic record).
  16. Requires a Notary to shall include in the Notary’s official stamp or within a certificate of notarial act the Notary’s commission expiration date.
  17. Clarifies that a Notary is responsible for the security of the Notary’s stamping device and may not allow another person to use the device to perform a notarial act.
  18. Requires the Notary to disable the stamping device by destroying, defacing, damaging, erasing or securing it against use in a manner that renders it unusable upon resignation or expiration of the Notary’s commission or upon expiration of the date set forth in the stamping device.
  19. Requires the Notary’s personal representative or any other person knowingly in possession of the stamping device to disable the stamping device by destroying, defacing, damaging, erasing or securing it against use in a manner that renders it unusable upon the death or adjudication of incompetency of a Notary or former Notary.
  20. Requires a Notary or Notary’s personal representative to notify promptly the Secretary of State if the Notary’s stamping device is lost or stolen.
  21. Clarifies that a Notary’s stamping device is a public seal for purposes of Criminal Law Article 8-607.

Journal

  1. Requires a Notary to keep a journal for all notarial acts the Notary performs.
  2. Requires a Notary to store all journals for 10 years after the performance of the last notarial act chronicled in the journal.
  3. Permits the journal maintained by a Notary to be kept on a tangible medium or electronic format.
  4. Requires a journal kept on a tangible medium to be a permanent, bound register with numbered pages and a journal kept in electronic format to be in a permanent, tamper-evident electronic format complying with the regulations of the Secretary of State.
  5. Requires a Notary to record a journal entry contemporaneously with the performance of the notarial act.
  6. Requires a Notary to maintain only one journal at a time for tangible and electronic notarizations
  7. Prescribes the following entries for each journal record: (a) the date and time of the notarial act; (b) a description of the record, if any; (c) description of the record, if any, and the type of notarial act; (d) the full name and address of each individual for whom a notarial act is performed; and (e) a brief description of the method of identification (personal knowledge or satisfactory evidence) and the type, issuance date and expiration date of the credential presented, if any, used to identify the individual; (f) the fee for the notarial act, if any; and (g) an indication of whether an individual making a statement or executing a signature which is the subject of the notarial act appeared in the Notary’s physical presence or by means of communication technology.
  8. Requires a Notary on resignation from or the revocation or suspension of the Notary’s commission, to retain the journal and inform the Secretary of State where the journal is located.
  9. Provides that instead of retaining a journal, a current or former Notary may transmit the journal to a repository approved by the Secretary of State or store the journal in any other manner as approved by the Secretary of State in regulations.
  10. Provides that on the death or adjudication of incompetency of a current or former Notary, the Notary’s personal representative or guardian or any other person knowingly in possession of the journal must transmit the journal to a repository approved by the Secretary of State or store the journal in any other manner as approved by the Secretary of State in regulations.
  11. Requires a Notary to promptly notify the Secretary of State if the Notary’s journal is lost or stolen.

Prohibited Acts and Advertising Requirements

  1. States that a commission to perform notarial acts does not allow an individual to (a) assist persons in drafting legal records, give legal advice or otherwise practice law; (b) act as an immigration consultant or expert; (c) represent a person in a judicial or administrative proceeding relating to immigration to the U.S. or U.S. citizenship; or (d) receive compensation for performing the activities in (a) through (c).
  2. Prohibits a Notary from engaging in false or deceptive advertising.
  3. Prohibits a Notary, other than an attorney licensed to practice law, to use the term “notario” or “notario publico.”
  4. Prohibits a Notary, other than an attorney licensed to practice law in Maryland, from advertising or representing that the Notary may assist persons in drafting legal records, give legal advice, or otherwise practice law.
  5. Requires a Notary who is not an attorney and who in any manner advertises or represents that the Notary offers notarial services, whether orally or in a record, including broadcast or print media, and the Internet, to include the following statement or an alternative statement authorized by the Secretary of State in the advertisement or representation, prominently and in each language used in the advertisement or representation: “I am not an attorney licensed to practice law in this state. I am not allowed to draft legal records, give advice on legal matters, including immigration, or charge a fee for those activities.”
  6. Provides that if the form of advertisement or representation is not broadcast media, print media, or the Internet and does not allow inclusion of the statement required above because of size, the Notary must prominently display or provide at his or her place of business the statement before the notarial act is performed.
  7. Prohibits a Notary from withholding access to or possession of any original record provided by a person that requests performance of a notarial act, except as otherwise allowed by law.

Notarization of Electronic Records

  1. Permits a Notary Public to select one or more tamper-evident technologies to perform notarial acts on electronic records.
  2. Prohibits any person from requiring a Notary Public to perform a notarial act with respect to an electronic record with a technology the Notary has not selected.
  3. Requires a Notary to notify the Secretary of State that the Notary will be performing notarial acts with respect to electronic records and identify the technology the Notary intends to use prior to performing the Notary’s first notarial act on an electronic record.
  4. Clarifies that if the Secretary of State has established standards for approval of technology, the technology must conform to the standards; and further clarifies that the Secretary shall approve the technology if it complies with the standards.
  5. Provides that a notarial certificate for a certification of a tangible copy of an electronic record is prima facie evidence that the requirements of St. Gov’t 18-204(e) have been satisfied if the certificate: (a) is completed with the information required by St. Gov’t 18-215(a); (b) includes an affixed or embossed official stamp as required by St. Gov’t 18-215(b); and (c) is attached to or made a part of a tangible copy of an electronic record.

Notarizations for Remotely Located Individuals

  1. Authorizes notarizations using communication technology for remotely located individuals.
  2. Exempts a last will or a trust instrument from being notarized using communication technology for a remotely located individual.
  3. Requires a Notary who performs notarization using communication technology to identify remotely located individuals by: (a) personal knowledge; (b) verification on oath or affirmation from a credible witness appearing before and identified by the Notary under St. Gov’t 18-2006(b) or as a remotely located individual; or (c) all of the following: remote presentation of an identification credential described in St. Gov’t 18-2006(b), credential analysis of that credential and identity proofing of the individual.
  4. Requires a Notary who performs notarization using communication technology to reasonably confirm that a record before the Notary is the same record in which the remotely located individual made a statement or on which the individual executed a signature.
  5. Requires a Notary, or a person acting on behalf and at the direction of the Notary, to create an audio-visual recording of the notarial act performed using communication technology.
  6. Requires a record that is notarized using communication technology for a remotely located individual who is outside of the United States is to be filed with or relates to a matter before a public official or court, governmental entity, or other entity subject to the jurisdiction of the United States; or must involve property located in the territorial jurisdiction of the united states or involves a transaction substantially connected with the United States.
  7. Requires a Notary who performs notarization using communication technology for a remotely located individual who is outside of the United States to have no actual knowledge that the act of making the statement or signing the record is prohibited by the foreign state in which the remotely located individual is located.
  8. Requires a certificate for a notarial act performed by communication technology to indicate that the notarial act involved a remotely located individual and was performed using communication technology.
  9. Clarifies that the short form certificates provided in St. Gov’t 18-216 are sufficient if they comply with any regulation adopted for the use of communication technology or contain a statement substantially as follows: “This notarial act involved a remotely located individual and the use of communication technology.”
  10. Requires a Notary, a guardian, a conservator, or an agent of a Notary or a personal representative of a deceased Notary to retain the audio-visual recordings of notarial acts or cause the audio-visual recording to be retained by a repository designated by or on behalf of the person required to retain the recordings.
  11. Requires a guardian, a conservator, or an agent of a Notary or personal representative of a deceased Notary who assumes authority over audio-visual recordings to notify the secretary of state within 30 days after assuming authority; and comply with all requirements regarding the maintenance and storage of the audio-visual recordings.
  12. Provides that unless a different period is required by regulations adopted by the Secretary of State, audio-visual recordings shall be retained for a period of at least 10 years after the recording is made.
  13. Requires a Notary to notify the Secretary of State of the Notary’s intent to perform notarial acts involving communication technology and the technologies the Notary intends to use prior to performing the Notary’s initial act using communication technology.
  14. Provides that if the Secretary of State establishes standards for approval of communication technology, credential analysis, or identity proofing by regulation, the Notary shall comply with the standards when using these technologies.
  15. Clarifies that the validity of a notarial act performed using communication technology will be determined by Maryland law regardless of the physical location of the remotely located individual at the time of the notarial act.
  16. Clarifies that St. Gov’t 18-214 shall be construed and applied in a manner consistent with Title 21 of the Commercial Law Article.
  17. Clarifies that Maryland’s remote online notarization statutes do not require any person to accept, agree to, conduct, or complete a transaction using communication technology for a remotely located individual, and allow a person who agrees to, conducts, or completes a transaction using communication technology to refuse to do so in any other transaction.

Rules for Notarizations Using Communication Technology

  1. Provides that unless the Secretary of State adopts an applicable and superseding regulation under St. Gov’t 18-222 in the manner provided in this subsection, a Notary shall comply with the requirements of rules provided in SB 678 when performing a notarial act with respect to an electronic record or a remotely located individual.
  2. Clarifies that a regulation adopted by the Secretary of State may supersede a requirement of the rules provided in SB 678 if the regulation references this section and specifies the requirement to be superseded.
  3. Requires identity proofing and credential analysis to be performed by a reputable third party who has provided evidence to the Notary of the ability to satisfy the requirements of the rules in SB 678.
  4. Requires identity proofing to be performed through a dynamic knowledge-based authentication that meets the following requirements: (a) each remotely located individual must answer a quiz consisting of a minimum of five questions related to the individual’s personal history or identity, formulated from public or private data sources; (b) each question must have a minimum of five possible answer choices; (c) at least 80% of the questions must be answered correctly; (d) all questions must be answered within 2 minutes; (e) If the remotely located individual fails the first attempt, the individual may retake the quiz one time within 24 hours; (f) during a retake of the quiz, a minimum of 40% of the prior questions must be replaced; (g) if the remotely located individual fails the second attempt, the individual is not allowed to retry with the same Notary within 24 hours of the second failed attempt; and (h) the Notary must not be able to see or record the questions or answers.
  5. Provides that credential analysis must use public or private data sources to confirm the validity of an identification credential presented by a remotely located individual and shall, at a minimum use automated software processes to aid the Notary in verifying the identity of each remotely located individual.
  6. Requires that credential analysis must ensure that the identification credential passes an authenticity test, consistent with sound commercial practices that: (a) use appropriate technologies to confirm the integrity of visual, physical, or cryptographic security features; (b) use appropriate technologies to confirm that the identification credential is not fraudulent or inappropriately modified; (c) use information held or published by the issuing source or an authoritative source, as available, to confirm the validity of personal details and identification credential details; and (d) provide output of the authenticity test to the Notary.
  7. Requires that credential analysis must enable the Notary visually to compare for consistency the information and photo on the identification credential and the remotely located individual as viewed by the Notary in real time through communication technology
  8. Provides that communication technology must provide reasonable security measures to prevent unauthorized access to: (a) the live transmission of the audio-visual feeds; (b) the methods used to perform credential analysis and identity proofing; and (c) the electronic record that is the subject of the notarial act.
  9. Provides that if a remotely located individual must exit the workflow, the remotely located individual must meet the criteria of the rules under SB 678 and restart credential analysis and identity proofing from the beginning. 
  10. Requires a Notary to attach or logically associate the Notary’s electronic signature and official stamp to an electronic record by use of a digital certificate complying with the x.509 standard adopted by the international telecommunication union or a similar industry-standard technology.
  11. Prohibits a Notary from performing a notarial act with respect to an electronic record if the digital certificate: (a) has expired; (b) has been revoked or terminated by the issuing or registering authority; (c) is invalid; or (d) is incapable of authentication.
  12. Requires a Notary to retain a journal required under St. Gov’t 18-219 and any audio-visual recordings required under St. Gov’t 18-214 in a computer or other electronic storage device that protects the journal or audio-visual recordings against unauthorized access by password or cryptographic process.
  13. Authorizes a Notary to, by written contract, engage a third party to act as a repository to provide the storage for the electronic journal and audio-visual recordings.
  14. Requires a contract with a third party to act as a repository for storage of the electronic journal and audio-visual recordings to: (a) Enable the Notary to comply with the retention requirements of the Maryland Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts even if the contract is terminated; or (b) Provide that the information will be transferred to the Notary if the contract is terminated.
  15. Clarifies that a third party under contract with a Notary under the temporary rules in SB 678 will be deemed a repository approved by the Secretary of State under St. Gov’t 18-219.

Recognition of Authority to Perform Notarial Acts

  1. Recognizes the notarial acts performed by the following officers of another state as having the same effect under Maryland law as if performed by a Maryland notarial officer: (a) a Notary of that state; (b) a judge, clerk or deputy clerk of a court of that state and (c) any other individual authorized by the law of that state to perform the notarial act; and further provides that the signature and title of an individual performing a notarial act in another state are prima facie evidence that the signature is genuine and that the individual holds the designated title, and the signature and title of a notarial officer described in sections (a) and (b) conclusively establish the authority of the notarial officer to perform the notarial act.
  2. Recognizes the notarial acts performed by the following officers of a federally-recognized American Indian tribe as having the same effect under Maryland law as if performed by an Maryland notarial officer: (a) a Notary of that tribe; and (b) any other individual authorized by the law of the tribe to perform the notarial act; and further provides that the signature and title of an individual performing a notarial act under the authority of and in the jurisdiction of a federally recognized Indian tribe are prima facie evidence that the signature is genuine and the individual holds the designated title, and the signature and title of a notarial officer described in sections (a) and (b) conclusively establish the authority of the notarial officer to perform the notarial act.
  3. Recognizes the notarial acts performed by the following officers under federal law as having the same effect under Maryland law as if performed by a Maryland notarial officer: (a) a judge, clerk or deputy clerk of a court; (b) an individual in military service or performing duties under the authority of military service who is authorized to perform notarial acts under federal law; (c) an individual designated a notarial officer by the United States Department of State for performing notarial acts overseas; and (d) any other individual authorized by federal law to perform the notarial act; and further provides that the signature and title of an individual acting under federal authority and performing a notarial act are prima facie evidence that the signature is genuine and that the individual holds the designated title, and the signature and title of a notarial officer described in sections (a) and (b) and (c) conclusively establish the authority of the notarial officer to perform the notarial act.
  4. Provides that if a notarial act is performed under the authority and in the jurisdiction of a foreign state or constituent unit of the foreign state or is performed under the authority of a multinational or international governmental organization, a notarial act has the same effect under Maryland law as if performed by a Notary of Maryland.
  5. Provides if the title of office and indication of authority to perform notarial acts in a foreign state appears in a digest of foreign law or in a list customarily used as a source for that information, the authority of an officer with that title to perform notarial acts is conclusively established.
  6. Provides that the signature and official stamp of an individual holding an office described are prima facie evidence that the signature is genuine and the individual holds the designated title.
  7. Provides that an apostille in the form prescribed by the Hague Convention of October 5, 1961 and issued by a foreign state party to the Convention conclusively establishes that the signature of the notarial officer is genuine and that the officer holds the indicated office.
  8. Provides that a consular authentication issued by an individual designated by the United States Department of State as a notarizing officer for performing notarial acts overseas and attached to the record with respect to which the notarial act is performed conclusively establishes that the signature of the notarial officer is genuine and that the officer holds the indicated office.

Validity of Notarial Acts

  1. Provides that except as provided in St. Gov’t 18-203(b), the failure of a notarial officer to perform a duty or meet a requirement specified in the Maryland Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts does not invalidate a notarial act performed by the notarial officer.
  2. Provides that the validity of a notarial act under the new chapter does not prevent an aggrieved person from seeking to invalidate the record or transaction that is the subject of the notarial act or from seeking other remedies based upon other law; and that the Act does not validate a purported notarial act performed by an individual who does not have the authority to perform the act.
  3. Clarifies that the Act does not affect the validity and effect of a notarial act performed before the effective date of the Act under a law repealed by the Act.

Regulations

  1. Permits the Secretary of State to adopt rules to implement the Act and provides areas in which the Secretary may publish rules.
  2. Stipulates that in adopting, amending or repealing rules regarding notarial acts performed on electronic records, the Secretary shall consider, so far as it is consistent with the Act the standards, practices, and customs of other jurisdictions that substantially enact the RULONA.

Miscellaneous

  1. Provides that the Notary before whom the principal acknowledges a power of attorney may also serve as one of the two or more adult witnesses unless the Notary is using communication technology under St. Gov’t 18-214 to perform the notarial act for a remotely located principal. 
  2. Clarifies that in applying and construing the Act, consideration must be given to the need to promote uniformity of the law with respect to its subject matter among the states that enact it.
  3. Clarifies that the Act modifies, limits and supersedes the federal E-SIGN Act, but does not modify, limit or supersede Section 101(c) of E-SIGN or authorize electronic delivery of any of the notices described in Section 103(b) of E-SIGN.
Analysis:

Senate Bill 678 is a massive bill that modernizes Maryland’s Notary Public statutes by enacting substantive provisions of the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (RULONA) and also authorizes remote online notarizations. The bill repeals a prior provision allowing a Notary to “stamp and sign” a document containing a signature the Notary has witnessed without completing a notarial certificate and replaces it with the RULONA signature witnessing provision that requires the completion of a notarial certificate. SB 678 retains the requirement that Notaries keep a journal. The remote online notarization provisions contain “temporary” regulations that will go into effect when the bill is effective on October 1, 2020 unless the Secretary of State has adopted an applicable and superseding regulation by that time.

Read the bill text.

 

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