MN House File 910 | NNA
Law

MN House File 910

Notary Law Update: MN House File 910

State: Minnesota

Summary:

House File 910 adjusts the commissioning procedures for both resident and nonresident Notary commission applicants; clarifies that all Notaries and ex officio notarial officers must obtain and use an official notarial stamp; and permits a principal with a physical limitation that prevents the principal from signing or making a mark to direct another person to sign or affix his or her signature, mark or name.

Signed:  May 25, 2010

Effective:  August 01, 2010

Chapter: 380

Affects:

Repeals Section 359.05; adds Section 359.091; and amends Sections 357.021, 358.028, 358.09, 358.15, 358.48, 359.01, 359.02, and 359.03 of the Minnesota Statutes.

Changes:

Commissioning Process

  1. Reduces the fee a county court administrator may charge to record a Notary commission from $80 to $20.
  2. Raises the application fee for a Notary commission from $40 to $120 and clarifies that this fee must be forwarded by the Secretary of State to the commissioner of management and budget for deposit into the state’s general fund.
  3. Requires the Notary commission of a Minnesota resident to be filed with the office of the court administrator of the district court of the Notary’s county of residence or in the county department to which duties related to Notaries have been assigned together with a signature that matches the first, middle and last name listed on the commission and shown in the notarial stamp; and a sample signature in the style in which the Notary will execute notarial acts.
  4. No longer requires a resident of Wisconsin, Iowa, and North and South Dakota applying for a Minnesota Notary commission to reside in a county bordering Minnesota, provided the applicant designates the Minnesota county in which his or her commission will be recorded.
  5. Requires a nonresident Notary to record his or her commission in the office of the court administrator of the district court in the Minnesota county the Notary designates or in the county department to which duties relating to Notaries has been assigned under MS 485.27, instead of in the Minnesota county that borders the county in which the Notary resides, as formerly.
  6. Clarifies that a person appointed as a Notary is commissioned until January 31 of the fifth year following issuance of the commission.
  7. Permits a Notary to apply for reappointment up to six months before commission expiration (formerly within 60 days), or after the expiration of his or her current term.

Ex Officio Notarial Officers

  1. Requires every member of the Minnesota Legislature to possess an official notarial stamp to authenticate his or her notarial acts.
  2. Prescribes the form of official signature of clerks or recorders of towns and cities, court commissioners, county recorders, county auditors and their deputies, and county commissioners with ex officio Notary powers.
  3. Requires the officials listed above in No. 9 with ex officio Notary powers to obtain an official notarial stamp with which to authenticate official acts.
  4. Permits county recorders and auditors, and their deputies, and the clerk or recorder of a town or city with ex officio Notary powers to authenticate official notarial acts without using an official notarial stamp for 90 days after initially assuming office, or until the officer acquires an official notarial stamp, whichever is earlier.

Notary Stamp, Certificate and Authentications

  1. Throughout the Notary statutes, replaces the terms “notarial seal” and seal” with “notarial stamp” and “stamp” to clarify that this official device must stamp a “legibly reproducible” image, presumably in ink.
  2. Clarifies that the Notary’s name appearing on the official notarial stamp, on the official commission and on any notarial certificate signed by the Notary must be identical.
  3. Clarifies that the official stamp of a notarial officer must appear on every notarial certificate signed by the officer.
  4. Requires a certificate of notarial acts to be in English.
  5. Clarifies that the physical or electronic stamp applied to a paper or electronic record is deemed to be a “seal” for the purposes of the admission of a document in court.
  6. Clarifies the elements of the required notarial stamp, including the elements for the stamp of an ex officio notarial officer. (Note: the elements of the stamp for a Notary are unaffected by HF 910.)
  7. No longer requires a Notary to print, type or stamp the Notary’s name and commission expiration date on a notarial certificate separate from the seal.
Analysis:

House File 910 is the result of a lengthy process to revise Minnesota’s Notary statutes, initiated by Secretary of State Mark Ritchie who first formed a legislative work group in 2007 to reform the statutes. The NNA participated in the work group and advocated for mandatory journal-keeping, standards for satisfactory evidence of identity, heightened rules of conduct and ethical sanctions, and working into the statute provisions from the National eNotarization Standards adopted by the National Association of Secretaries of State. Sadly, the work group rejected these proposals, but did incorporate into the enacted bill a couple of NNA’s recommendations. It adopted procedures allowing a principal signer who is unable to sign or make a mark to direct a person to sign his or her signature or name and a provision from the Model Notary Act asserting that the Notary’s stamp and journal are the personal property of the Notary. However, instead of bringing true reform to Minnesota’s Notary statutes, HF 910 basically reshuffles the chairs of the commissioning process and makes substantial technical changes to the statute without effecting significant change. That said, there are some good reforms in HF 910. For example, the bill requires all ex officio notarial officers to obtain an official notarial stamp, which will lend greater credence to all notarial acts performed in Minnesota. In choosing to replace the word “seal” with “stamp” throughout the statutes, the legislature adopted a welcome provision clarifying that a notarial inking “stamp” is deemed to be a “seal” for the purposes of admission of a document in court. This is important because the evidence rules of Minnesota make any notarized document containing an official seal of a public officer “self-authenticating” – that is, exempt from further requirements to “prove up” the document entered into court as evidence. Given the highly mobile society of the 21st century, the bill repealed a provision only allowing residents of Wisconsin, Iowa, and North and South Dakota who reside in a county bordering Minnesota to apply for a Minnesota Notary commission. Policymakers understood that there are many individuals who may not live in a county bordering Minnesota but who commute to work in Minnesota and need a Notary commission to do their jobs. We also believe that the repeal of MS 359.05, a statute that required a Notary to include his or her name and expiration date on every notarized document even though this information is in the Notary’s official seal, was long overdue. Even with these noteworthy changes, HF 910 underachieves in bringing significant reform and greater integrity to notarial acts performed in Minnesota.

Read the bill text.

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