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The Texas Notary Seal Law: What Businesses Need To Know

What Texas businesses can do to comply with the state’s new Notary seal law

A new Texas Notary seal law could cause legal difficulties for businesses that employ Notaries or that rely on notarized documents, the State Bar of Texas cautioned in a recent advisory statement.

The Bar advised updating all employees’ Notary seal stamps as a precaution against legal challenges to notarizations.

The new law, House Bill 1683, takes effect January 1, 2016, and requires Notary seals to include the Notary’s identification number. But it is unclear whether existing Notaries need to replace their seals.

What Texas Businesses Can Do

Texas businesses concerned about possible ramifications of the new law can follow these simple steps:

1. Check the status of any employee Notary seal stamp to determine if the seals include the ID number required by the new law or not.

2. Ensure that all Notary employees receive training and education on the new law.

3. Review the information provided by the Secretary of State and the State Bar in order to determine whether to replace your employees’ Notary seals now or wait until January.

Confusion About The Notary Seal Law 

The Texas Secretary of State’s office has said that only new and renewing Texas Notaries commissioned from January 1, 2016, onward need to include their ID numbers in their seals.

But the State Bar said the law could be interpreted to include all Notaries.

Businesses that  rely heavily on notarizations — such as those working with real estate or probate documents — may have to deal with opportunistic legal challenges seeking to exploit this uncertainty.

“Our concern is that a third party might challenge the validity of an acknowledgment or jurat based on the lack of a seal,” wrote William D. Pargaman, Chair of the Texas State Bar’s Real Estate, Probate and Trust Law Section. Under Texas case law, an incorrect seal is the “equivalent to no seal at all.”

Notarized documents could be challenged — and possibly invalidated — in court due to use of an incorrect seal. That could cause problems with certain wills and real estate deeds, Pargaman wrote.

David Thun is an Associate Editor at the National Notary Association. 

Additional Resources:

Texas Notary Seals

View All: Laws & Regulations

1 Comment

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David A. Lane

21 Dec 2015

Given how inexpensive seals are, just buy a new one with your commission number on it and make sure you are in compliance. At least they did not require your expiration date. That would be burdensome.

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