Saturday, December 9, 2017

Alabama SB 54 - More than just a Senate Bill for Notaries

It's been nearly six years since Senate Bill 54 became law in January 2012, affecting thousands of notaries throughout Alabama.   So why blog about it now?  Well, it isn't the first time and it won't be the last because there are still hundreds, if not thousands, of notaries who never heard of it.

SB 54 is important because it is the only document that outlines Alabama's current Notary Public duties and requirements.  Everything else that existed previously was replaced by SB 54.  If a notary still relies on instructions and handbooks dated prior to 2012, she's using outdated information which could pose problems down the line.

Most notaries will have tons of questions after reading the law. It is silent about the use of notary journals, credible witnesses, and copy certifications.  It does address the notary fee increasing to $5.00; but says nothing about the types of ID notaries should accept to identify signers, and if we can notarize for family members.

As someone who notarizes 10-20 signatures a week, and trains other notaries, I find the lack of a true handbook to be frustrating and challenging.  If I teach class strictly by what's outlined in SB 54, it would take less than thirty minutes, and notaries still wouldn't know the difference between an Acknowledgement, Jurat and Copy Certification (the three most common notarial acts).  So instead, I combine Alabama Notary Law (SB 54) with nationally-accepted, notary best practice.  I am careful to explain the difference to students and let them decide how to proceed.  For now, it's the best I can do.

A copy of SB 54 in its entirety is found on our website (Notaries for Alabama).  For more information about notary classes and other events, call our office or join us on Facebook where we have a private group, and where all commissioned Alabama notaries are welcome.

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