Uniform Laws UpdateUniform Laws Update Co-Editor : Kieran Marion, Legislative Counsel, Uniform Law Commission, 111 N. Wabash Avenue, Suite 1010, Chicago, IL 60602-1917, kieran.marion@nccusl.org. Guest Editor: Patricia Brumfield Fry is a Uniform Law Commissioner from Missouri and a professor of law emerita at the University of Missouri–Columbia. Prof. Fry serves as chair for the revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts. Previously she chaired the Drafting Committee on the 1999 Uniform Electronic Transactions Act.

Probate & Property Magazine, November/December 2009, Volume 23, Number 6

Uniform Laws Update | Property

Uniform Laws Update—Property provides information on uniform and model state laws in development as they apply to property, trust, and estate matters. The editors of Probate & Property welcome information and suggestions from readers.

Revising the Uniform Law on Notarial Acts

In 1982, the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) completed work on the Uniform Law on Notarial Acts. The world has changed since 1982. The Internet formally came into being in 1994, the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) was completed in 1999, the federal Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESign) was enacted in 2000, and the Uniform Real Property Electronic Recording Act (URPERA) was completed in 2004. These developments reflected and facilitated the use of electronic technologies in commercial transactions, including real property transactions.

Both UETA and ESign recognized that the failure to permit notarization of electronic records would interfere with electronic processing for real property transactions and thus the continued evolution of transaction processing. Both UETA and ESign provide that notarial acts can be evidenced on electronic records, without the necessity of affixing the traditional notarial seal. But these provisions were either ignored or caused confusion. States began striving to deal with the emergence of new technologies.

In 2008 the Uniform Law Commission commenced work to revise the Uniform Law on Notarial Acts—to modernize the statute and provide a stable foundation for notarial certificates and affirmations.

Highlights of the revision include:

  • Electronic Records. The signer appears before the notary. The notary’s duties remain the same—certify, witness, take acknowledgments, and so on. The notary signs the electronic records in a tamper-evident manner consistent with regulations.
  • Electronic Records; Regulations. The regulations should ensure tamper-evident signatures, having due regard for uniformity, standards, and customs. Vendors may seek approval of technologies for use by notaries public.
  • Journals. Notaries public are to maintain journals detailing their work.
  • Education. Regulators can require completion of education before issuing the initial license.
  • Advertising; Legal Advice. Notaries who advertise must clearly state in the language of the advertisement that notaries are not authorized to practice law.
  • Revocation of Commission. For the first time, the statute gives explicit authority to the regulator to suspend or revoke commissions for misfeasance or malfeasance.

After a year of effort, the Drafting Committee submitted its work for a first reading at the 2009 ULC Annual Meeting and is progressing toward a second and final reading in 2010. The Drafting Committee is assisted by ABA Advisor James Wine, representing the RPTE Section, and ABA Advisor David Ewan, for the Section of Science and Technology, as well as observers from the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS), various individual Secretaries of State offices, the Property Records Industry Association (PRIA), the International Association of County Recorders, Election Officials, and Treasurers (IACREOT), the major notarial associations, and other interested parties and individuals. Copies of drafts and reports can be obtained from the ULC web site. Anyone interested in becoming an observer is invited to contact the ULC at its Chicago office, at (312) 450-6600, or at www.nccusl.org.

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