Saturday, December 10, 2016

In Texas, Signatures are Not Required in Journals

I’ll let you in on a little secret.  

For years, I didn’t realize that Texas notaries were not required to capture signatures of signers or witnesses in their journals. I learned about this during a humiliating moment while testifying before a committee of the Texas Legislature.  It’s not something that I’ll ever forget! I still cringe when I recall the committee’s chairman chiding me before a packed rooms of listeners. 

This came about around 1994 (if memory serves me correctly).

I have been told that concerns were raised about a Texas notary’s journal being a part of the public record.  As such, if an entry from a notary’s journal was requested by a member of the public, signatures would not be protected and the notary would have to produce the entry, signatures and all.

Privacy of Texans won and signatures were no longer required.

Here is what the law says you must record in your record book (quoted below from the actual law in the Texas Government Code so you can read it for yourself).

Sec. 406.014.  NOTARY RECORDS. 
(a)  A notary public other than a court clerk notarizing instruments for the court shall keep in a book a record of:
(1)  the date of each instrument notarized;
(2)  the date of the notarization;
(3)  the name of the signer, grantor, or maker;
(4)  the signer's, grantor's, or maker's residence or alleged residence;
(5)  whether the signer, grantor  or maker is personally known by the notary public, was identified by an identification card issued by a governmental agency or a passport issued by the United States, or was introduced to the notary public and, if introduced, the name and residence or alleged residence of the individual introducing the signer, grantor, or maker;
(6)  if the instrument is proved by a witness, the residence of the witness, whether the witness is personally known by the notary public or was introduced to the notary public and, if introduced, the name and residence of the individual introducing the witness;
(7)  the name and residence of the grantee;
(8)  if land is conveyed or charged by the instrument, the name of the original grantee and the county where the land is located; and
(9)  a brief description of the instrument.
(b)  Entries in the notary's book are public information.
(c)  A notary public shall, on payment of all fees, provide a certified copy of any record in the notary public's office to any person requesting the copy.
(d)  A notary public who administers an oath pursuant to Article 45.019, Code of Criminal Procedure, is exempt from the requirement in Subsection (a) of recording that oath.
(e)  A notary public may maintain the records required by Subsection (a) electronically in a computer or other storage device.

Signatures aren't mentioned.

Many sources say (and I agree) that Texas notaries may not decline to notarize a document if the signer refuses to sign their record books.  However, for obvious reasons, asking for a signature is the best practice.

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