SUPPORT: HB 777 – Revised Mississippi Law on Notarial Acts

On February 12, 2019, the Land Title Association of Mississippi’s (“LTAMS“) Legislative Committee voted to recommend support of HB 777 to its Board of Directors.  On February 13, 2019, the Board unanimously approved the Committee’s recommendation and authorized the Committee to express LTAMS’ support for the passage of HB 777 as introduced in the House.

The Mississippi Secretary of State’s office formed the Secretary of State Electronic Notarization Study Group in 2018 for the purpose of determining whether or not to pursue changes to Mississippi’s notary laws.  One issue that the group was charged with considering was whether or not Mississippi should adopt laws authorizing electronic (in person – not remote) notarization in Mississippi. The study group consisted of 23 members, including real estate and banking attorneys, real estate professionals, paralegals, and chancery clerks.

According to the Secretary of State’s office, the study group concluded that:

Electronic notarization would increase efficiency while protecting document authentication by still requiring the notary to appear in person before the signer.

If passed into law, House Bill 777 would enact the Revised [Mississippi] Uniform Law on Notarial Act (which is based on the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (“RULONA“) published by the Uniform Law Commission.  This bill would authorize “in-person” electronic notarization of documents. As with Mississippi’s existing notary laws, the bill grants the Secretary of State with the authority to regulate notaries and to determine the method of implementation, including how documents electronically notarized will be authenticated.

It is important to note that this bill does NOT authorize “remote online notarization” (“RON“).  It simply adds authorization for electronic notarization.  Members of the Study Group declined to pursue legislation to authorize RON in Mississippi at this time. The Uniform Laws Commission is currently in the process of publishing an amendment to RULONA that would, when published, allow states who have adopted RULONA to easily consider whether or not to also authorize RON.

Another topic discussed by the group involved those sections of RULONA that would have required an amendment to Chapter 89 (which currently contains our form of acknowledgments, etc.).  Those sections were not included in HB 777.  Specifically, the section of RULONA that contained the “short form” acknowledgments was not included.  The group determined that when and whether to adopt those sections of RULONA were best left to members of the Real Property Section of The Mississippi Bar (or, now, LTAMS) to pursue.

To learn more, read the bill!