Idaho Adopts New Laws Governing Notaries and Acknowledgments

by Stoel Rives LLP
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Stoel Rives LLP

Anyone who deals with interests in real estate should be aware that Idaho recently adopted a new set of laws governing notaries and acknowledgments. This is important because Idaho law gives special protection to interests in real estate that are created by a written document that has been recorded with the county recorder. To be recorded, the signatures on the document generally must be acknowledged, and acknowledgments are generally certified by notaries.

The Idaho legislature passed the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts, the bulk of which became effective July 1, 2017. The primary purpose of the new act was touted as allowing notaries to use new technologies in performing notarial acts. It also requires the Secretary of State to provide a course of education for applicants and notaries who wish to use it.

The new law also authorizes new, simplified forms of acknowledgment. For an individual signing on its own behalf, the following will now suffice:

State of ____________________
County of ____________________

This record was acknowledged before me on [date] by [name(s) of individual(s)]

_______________________________
Signature of notary public

(Stamp)

My commission expires: ________

For an individual signing on behalf of another individual or entity, the following will now suffice:

State of ____________________
County of __________________

This record was acknowledged before me on [date] by [name(s) of individual(s)] as [type of authority, such as officer or trustee] of [name of party on behalf of whom record was executed]

_______________________________
Signature of notary public

(Stamp)

My commission expires: ________

These two simple forms replace many, more lengthy forms that differed greatly depending on the types of entities and other circumstances involved. The new law also gives guidance for compound acknowledgements, where one entity signs on behalf of another entity.

Under the new law, notaries will need to get new stamps, but that portion of the new law has not yet gone into effect. Existing law, which will continue in effect until October 1, 2018, requires that a notary’s stamp include “the words ‘Notary Public,’ the notary public’s name, the words ‘State of Idaho,’ and nothing more.” Beginning October 1, 2018, the same rule applies except the stamp must also include the notary’s state-issued commission number and may include the words “my commission expires” followed by the notary’s current commission expiration date.

One important change under the new law has not garnered much attention. The new law has a very broad saving clause that says that “the failure of a notary public to perform a duty or meet a requirement specified in this chapter does not invalidate a notarial act performed by the notary public.” The only exception to the savings clause is if a notary public impermissibly performs a notarial act with respect to a document in which the notary public or the notary public’s spouse is a party, or in which either of them has a direct beneficial interest. So, it would seem, there is now much less chance that a notary’s act will be invalidated just because the notary makes a mistake. That has not always been the case in Idaho. For instance, the Idaho Supreme Court once found an acknowledgment to be void because the notary used the form for an individual acknowledgment instead of the form for a corporate acknowledgment. See Jordan v. Securities Credit Corp., 79 Idaho 284, 314 P.2d 967 (1957). Thanks to the saving clause in the new law, a court facing the same situation in the future might reach a different result.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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