California has had for over six months new language requirements for notarized documents. CA Senate Bill 1050 (Stats 2014, ch. 197) requires that a pre-printed consumer notification must be included on all California Acknowledgment, Jurat, and Proof of Execution by Subscribing Witness certificates. The consumer notification needs to be clear and legible in a box.
The new requirements went into effect as of January 1, 2015 but people are still trying to file forms with the Alameda County Clerk-Recorder’s Office (and other agencies) that fail to meet the new standards. They are sent over to the Alameda County Law Library with the agency’s sample language handout in an effort to obtain a form that includes up-to-date language. These people are usually self-represented and unfamiliar with what is a notary’s purpose – exactly the consumers for whom the new California language was written. The language in the box presents a simple explanation that the notary’s role involves the signing and he/she has no responsibility as to the validity of the text or purpose of the document.
Here is an explanation of the difference between the two types of certificates taken from an article posted on the National Notary Association website — Understanding the Key Differences Between Notary Acknowledgment and Jurat Certificates .
Acknowledgement — The purpose of the acknowledgment is to ensure that the signer of a document is who he/she says claims and that he/she voluntarily signed the document. Required by many important documents, such as deed, mortgages, deeds of trust and powers of attorney.
Jurat — The main purpose of the jurat (“subscribed and sworn to (or affirmed)”) is to require that the signer be compelled to truthfulness regarding content of the document. This is accomplished by the notary administering an oath or affirmation. Jurats are often performed on affidavits and depositions. An example — affidavit of death of joint tenant.
Some other terms related to the work of notaries:
Affidavit — a written statement prepared by or on behalf of a person (known as the affiant) who swears that what it contains is true and accurate. It usually recites facts based on the affiant’s personal knowledge … or states an opinion that the affiant professes to be qualified to state. It must be sworn to before someone authorized to administer oaths, such as a notary public, who validates the signature and affirms that an oath of affirmation was administered. A declaration is similar to an affidavit in content, but it does not have to be sworn to. (The Redbook: A Manual on Legal Style, Section 19.1)
Proof of execution — This notary act takes place when a subscribing witness or executing witness appears before a notary and swears that another particular person signed a document. This is the only notary act where someone can be notarized without appearing before a notary public.
Difference Between Oaths and Affirmations — While both oaths and affirmations are notarial acts that compel a person to tell the truth, an oath is a solemn, spoken pledge to God or a Supreme Being, while an affirmation is a spoken pledge made on the signer’s personal honor with no reference to a higher power. Either is considered acceptable and a signer may choose which he prefers.
Remember: Be careful what you search for.
At least one of the patrons who tried to record a deed with an out of date certificate was an example of how legal information can achieve an eternal life on the Internet. Browser search results may pull up a form that states in its title that it is a “California quit claim deed.” A searcher needs to ask – When was it uploaded? Who uploaded it? Is the web site a reliable one? Are well-informed people editing, adding and removing information from this site?
The county law library collection relies on professionally edited legal reference sources. The legal publishers are in the business of providing up-to-date information for lawyers and self-represented litigants (at a steep price because of their value to researchers.) This is another reason why continued support for public county law libraries is so important.
No, everything isn’t on the Internet.