NEW LAW: Revised Mississippi Law on Notarial Acts

House Bill 1156, which would create the Revised Mississippi Law on Notarial Acts, was approved by Governor Reeves on June 25, 2020, and becomes effective July 1, 2021. This legislation was introduced at the request of the Land Title Association of Mississippi by Rep. Aguirre and Sen. Tyler McCaughn. It was based on the draft introduced in 2019 by then-Secretary of State Hosemann.

While HB 1156 represents a much-needed move toward modernizing Mississippi’s notarial law, the bill does not authorize remote ink-signed notarization (“RIN”) or remote online notarization (“RON”). Instead, the new law only authorizes traditional wet-ink notarization (“TWIN”) and in-person electronic notarization (“IPEN”). The person signing a document to be notarized would still need to physically appear in person before the notary.

HB 1156 also incorporates short-form acknowledgments and conforms portions of Chapter 89 to the new e-notary law. In addition to the notary changes, there are three statutory changes included in HB 1156. First, it clarifies that for a document to be recorded, it must contain an original signature. Second, it codifies two exceptions to the spousal joinder requirement and provides that an affidavit may be recorded. See Title Examination Standard 15.02. The exceptions are for (a) separate spouses, living apart, and (b) voluntary abandonment. Finally, it provides that after July 1, 2021, an affidavit recorded under Miss. Code Ann. § 89-5-8 must include a description of the real property covered by the affidavit.

The Land Title Association of Mississippi worked very closely with Secretary Watson’s staff on a proposed amendment to HB 1156. The amendment would have authorized both RIN and RON. It would have also created a “paper-out procedure,” which would have allowed for the recording of an electronic document in a county that does not currently have the capability of accepting e-recordings. That procedure would have allowed the notary or attorney to print the original electronic document and attach a certificate to it and record the printed electronic document and certificate as a paper document for recording. There are currently around 60 counties that do not have e-recording capability. Unfortunately, the amendment did not make it out of committee. However, the Land Title Association of Mississippi will continue to work toward amending the Revised Mississippi Law on Notarial Acts to add RIN and RON, as well as a much needed paper-out procedure.