MT Senate Bill 299 | NNA
Law

MT Senate Bill 299

Notary Law Update: MT Senate Bill 299

State: Montana

Summary:

Senate Bill 299 establishes both a journal and an education requirement for Montana Notaries. It requires that all first-time applicants for a Notary commission, and all existing Notaries seeking reappointment against whom a complaint has been filed or evidence of improperly notarized documents has been submitted to the Secretary of State, take a training course. The new law also requires use of an inking seal alone as the official seal. It shortens the residency requirement for commission applicants from 1 year to 30 days.

The education training requirement takes effect July 1, 2010.

Signed:  April 18, 2009

Effective:  October 01, 2009

Chapter: 319

Affects:

Amends Sections 1-5-401, 1-5-402, 1-5-416, 1-5-419 and 1-5-610 of the Montana Code Annotated

Changes:
  1. Clarifies that the Secretary of State may commission as many qualified Notaries as is considered appropriate.
  2. Requires an applicant for appointment as a Notary to complete a training program certified by the Secretary of State.
  3. Requires a Notary seeking reappointment to a new commission to complete a training program certified by the Secretary of State if a complaint has been filed against the Notary during the current term of commission or the Secretary of State receives evidence of improperly notarized documents by the Notary.
  4. Clarifies that a person seeking reappointment as a Notary must not be a convicted felon.
  5. Reduces the length of time an applicant for appointment or reappointment as a Notary must be a state resident from 1 year to 30 days preceding appointment or reappointment.
  6. Makes clear a Notary seeking reappointment must continue to reside in the state during the length of the commission term.
  7. No longer permits a Notary to use an embosser as an official seal and requires that an inking seal be used instead.
  8. Requires a Notary to sign each document notarized using blue or black ink.
  9. Repeals the elements required to be included in the Notary’s official seal and authorizes the Secretary of State to prescribe the seal’s form and elements.
  10. Stipulates that a Notary must keep an official journal for all notarial acts performed and prescribes the following minimum elements required to be included in the journal for each entry: (1) date of notarization; (2) type of notarial act; (3) type of document; (4) date of document; (5) name, address and signature of each signer; and (6) type of identification used by the Notary to identify the signer.
  11. Authorizes the Secretary of State to prescribe additional entries for the Notary’s official journal.
  12. Requires a Notary upon resignation, removal from office or commission expiration without reappointment, or the Notary’s representative in case of the Notary’s death, to transfer all journals (formerly records) to the county clerk and recorder of the county of the Notary’s residence and to destroy the Notary’s official seal.
  13. States that a Notary or Notary’s representative is liable to any person harmed by a failure to deposit the journals with the county clerk and to destroy the Notary’s official inking seal.
Analysis:

Senate Bill 299 is a significant new law which requires all applicants for a first-time Notary commission and all existing Notaries seeking reappointment against whom a complaint has been filed or evidence of improperly notarized documents has been submitted to the Secretary of State to take a training course certified by the Secretary. In addition, SB 299 mandates that all Notaries keep an official journal of notarial acts. While in the past 10 years mandatory education laws have been enacted by Florida, California, Missouri, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Oregon, North Carolina (for electronic Notaries) and Delaware (for electronic Notaries), in stark contrast Montana is the first state in many decades to pass a mandatory journal requirement. The Montana Secretary of State requested the NNA’s assistance in lobbying for the education and journal provisions of SB 299 and in an eleventh hour turnaround, SB 299 was snatched from the jaws of defeat and was stunningly enacted and signed into law. Other provisions of this new law, such as the change requiring use of an inking stamp alone as an official seal, clarifications about the reappointment process and requirements for transferring journal records and destroying the official seal at the end of a commission and upon resignation or removal from office, or the Notary’s death, are overshadowed by the more substantive education and journal provisions.

Read the bill text.

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