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I received this October 27 from the Litigation Section of the State Bar of Texas, and it concerns not only all notaries but all who use notaries.

Dear Litigation Section Members,

Texas HB 1683, effective January 1, 2016, relates to the notary seal, and an issue was recently raised that the Litigation Section members who rely on notaries should be aware of.

The bill requires (1) the Secretary of State to issue an identifying number to each notary when a commission is issued or renewed, and (2) that the notary’s seal include that identifying number. Under the bill, the Secretary of State is only required to issue identifying numbers to notaries who apply for a commission or a reappointment on or after the effective date. And from the hearings in both the House and Senate, it appears that neither the House author nor the Senate sponsor intended that existing notaries obtain new seals that include their identification numbers until their commissions are renewed. For the past 20 years, the Secretary of State has been issuing unique identification numbers to notaries, but despite the authors' expressed intent, the actual bill language does not defer the new seal requirement for existing notaries until renewal.

Representatives of the Real Estate Probate and Trust Section (REPTL), made us aware of this issue and they have been in touch with the Secretary of State’s office, and consistent with the bill’s “intent,” that office has advised that it will not require existing notaries to get new seals until their commissions are renewed. REPTL cautions, however, that a third party might challenge the validity of an acknowledgement or jurat based on the lack of a proper seal. And REPTL advises that "the safest course of action is to replace your notary seal with one that includes your identification number before January 1." You can find your identification number on your commission, but if you can’t find your commission, you can search for your identification number (or any other notary’s number, for that matter) on the Secretary of State’s Notary Search page.

In the meantime, REPTL is investigating the possibility of asking an appropriate legislator to request an Attorney General opinion on the issue. According to the Attorney General’s website, while the ultimate determination of a law’s applicability or meaning is left to the courts, “attorney general opinions are highly persuasive and are entitled to great weight.”

We’ll advise you of any further developments in this area.


Paula Hinton, Chair

Litigation Section

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