VA Senate Bill 118 | NNA
Law

VA Senate Bill 118

Notary Law Update: VA Senate Bill 118

State: Virginia

Summary:

Senate Bill 118 corrects an ill-advised law enacted last year prohibiting a Notary from notarizing any signature that did not appear on the same page as the certificate of acknowledgment, jurat or other notarial form. Now, a Notary may complete a certificate that is printed on a page separate from as the signature if the printed name of the document signer appears in the notarial certificate.

Signed:  April 18, 2008

Effective:  April 18, 2008

Chapter: 685

Affects:

Amends Section 47.1-15 of the Code of Virginia

Changes:
  1. Allows a Notary to complete and attach a “loose” certificate when notarizing a signature or signatures on a document, as long as the certificate includes the name of each person whose signature is being notarized.         
  2. Effective July 1, 2008, declares that any document is considered to be validly notarized that does not have the notarial certificate wording on the same page as the signature, if the document otherwise appears on its face to be properly notarized.
Analysis:

In “clean up” legislation to last year’s comprehensive Notary law reform, Senate Bill 118 corrects what many considered an ill-advised if well-intentioned provision. A Notary was prohibited from notarizing any signature if the notarial certificate did not appear on the same page as the signature. The Virginia Secretary of the Commonwealth supported this provision in the hope that it would cut down on frauds involving notarized documents. Unfortunately, the Secretary did not anticipate the trouble it would cause. For example, a 16-page mortgage document that was formatted in such a manner that the wording for the certificate of acknowledgment would not fit on the last page containing the signature lines could not be notarized until the document was reformatted to make the acknowledgment “fit” on the signature page. A Notary could not staple a “loose” acknowledgment to the mortgage; the Notary was duty-bound to refuse the notarization until the document was reformatted.

The amendment now permits a notarial certificate to appear on a page separate from the signature as long as the name of each signer is printed in the certificate. The following are acceptable and unacceptable examples: “This instrument was acknowledged before me on May 16, 2008, by John Jones and Mark Williams” (acceptable); “This instrument was acknowledged before me on May 16, 2008” (unacceptable).

The NNA is sympathetic with the Secretary’s concerns for reducing fraud involving notarial certificates. This is why the NNA’s loose certificates contain an “Optional” section in which the Notary may record the names of all signers and the title or description of the document to which the certificate is attached.

Finally, in order to “cure” the “defective” notarizations previously notarized without the notarial certificate appearing on the same page as the signature, effective July 1, 2008, all such notarizations are declared valid if they otherwise appear on their face to be properly notarized.

Read the bill text.

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