MT Senate Bill 337 | NNA
Law

MT Senate Bill 337

Notary Law Update: MT Senate Bill 337

State: Montana

Summary:

Senate Bill 337 redefines the term “affidavit throughout the Montana Code Annotated to include written statements signed under penalty of perjury. SB 337 will lessen the number of jurats performed before Notaries. However, an unsworn declaration may not be made with respect to any document or writing requiring an acknowledgment, deposition, oath of office, or oath required to be taken before a special official other than a Notary Public.

Signed:  April 21, 2011

Effective:  October 01, 2011

Chapter: 238

Affects:

Creates new sections and amends Sections 1-1-203, 25-4-203, 72-1-206, and 72-3-401 of the Montana Code Annotated.

Changes:
  1. Defines “affidavit” throughout the Montana Code Annotated as a sworn written declaration made before an officer authorized to administer oaths or an unsworn written declaration made under penalty of perjury.
  2. Provides that whenever, under any Montana law, rule, order, or requirement made under the law, any matter is required or permitted to be supported, evidenced, established, or proved by a person’s sworn written declaration, verification, certificate, oath, or affidavit, the matter may with like force and effect be supported, evidenced, established, or proved by an unsworn written declaration, certificate, verification, or statement that is subscribed by the person as true under penalty of perjury.
  3. Creates a form for an unsworn declaration.
  4. States that a deliberate falsification in any unsworn declaration constitutes the offense of perjury as provided in MCA 45-7-201 and is punishable as the offense of false swearing as provided in MCA 45-7-202.
  5. Clarifies that an unsworn declaration may not be made with writings requiring an acknowledgment, deposition, oath of office, or oath required to be taken before a special official other than a notary public.
Analysis:

Senate Bill 337 defines the term “affidavit” throughout the Montana Code Annotated as a sworn written declaration made before an officer authorized to administer oaths or an unsworn written declaration made under penalty of perjury. As far as Notaries are concerned, this broadening of the definition of the term affidavit means that the public no longer must have a Notary perform a jurat on affidavits. The public may sign affidavits under penalty of perjury instead. For example, in a self-proved last will and testament, the self-proving affidavits accompanying the last will now simply may be signed under penalty of perjury without having to go to a Notary. While this doesn’t necessarily mean that all jurats will go away, as affidavits still may be sworn under oath or affirmation before a Notary or notarial officer, the NNA opposes bills such as SB 337 for removing the essential protections afforded by the notarial act. Signing an affidavit in Montana now will be more convenient, but we do not believe that they will be as secure. Unfortunately, many states have moved in the direction of permitting sworn statements to be made without the intervention of a Notary. The bill clarifies that an unsworn declaration may not be made with respect to any document or writing requiring an acknowledgment, deposition, oath of office, or oath required to be taken before a special official other than a Notary Public.

Read the bill text.

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