In all states, there are laws that deal with the validity of any document that is notarized out of state. The Uniform Acknowledgment Act (UAA) was the very first uniform law. This law was adopted by the ULC in 1939. The UAA authorized the recognition of documents that have been notarized in different states without needing any additional authentication of the notary’s authority.
The states of Arkansas, Maryland, Pennsylvania and South Dakota have some form of UAA remaining to this day. This law was replaced in 1968 by the Recognition of Acknowledgments Act (URAA). This law expands the recognition provision of UAA to include all notary services and acts. There are a total of fifteen states that have adopted URAA. The URAA was replaced by the Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (ULONA) in 1982. The law recognizes the validity of all notarial acts that occur out of state. The District of Columbia along with eleven other states have adopted the ULONA.
Out of the twenty four states that have not adopted either the URAA or the ULONA, there are four states that have laws to recognize the validity of all out of state notary acts. There are twenty states that remain who recognize that the acknowledgement prepared by an out of state notary and has laws that recognize the other types of notarial acts and notarized documents require a jurat. These should typically cover both affidavits and depositions.
The Model Notary Act was updated in the year 2010. When it was updated it included a provision that concerned recognition of notarial acts for the first time. The comments acknowledge that is may be redundant given the existence of the Full Faith and Credit Clause. It also added that any notarizations performed in some areas may be rejected because of cosmetic inconsistencies or different policies between the states.
There are state and federal rules of evidence that deals with the recognition of notarized documents. The Federal Rules Of Evidence (FRE) governs the introduction of evidence in the civil and criminal federal courts. The acknowledgement certificate that is prepared by a notary public is considered self- authenticating. What happens is when the party needs to have a notarized acknowledgement admitted into evidence there will be no additional evidence required to prove the authenticity of the acknowledgment. Any public documents that deal with the seal of a public official are self authenticating under the federal rules.
There are many states that have incorporated the Federal Rules of Evidence laws into their standards of the process of introducing evidence into the state courts. There are currently forty four states that use the FRE provisions that regard self authentication of notary acts.
There are many model statutes and legal sources that can be relied on. Even though there are very many there are still challenges that remain. The case that highlights the difficulties of interpreting what constitutes a valid out of state notarization is the Michigan court case of Apsey vs. Memorial Hospital. This case involves an affidavit that was notarized in Pennsylvania and was present to a court in Michigan as a piece of a medical malpractice claim. The trial court in Michigan would not admit that the affidavit into evidence because it did not follow the state law that requires out of state affidavits to be notarized and accompanied by a certificate from a court clerk that certifie the authority of the notary and the authenticity of the notary’s signature.
The Michigan Court of Appeals in 2005 agreed with the defending hospital’s argument that the state law required certification of an out of state notary’s authority in a medical malpractice suit. In 2007 the Michigan Supreme Court overturned the Court of Appeals decision. When that happened the court noted that Michigan’s Uniform Recognition of Acknowledgements Act (URAA) created different requirements for the certification of out of state affidavits. Some laws do conflict but the court focused on a provision in which the URAA states that the act “providers an additional method of proving notarial acts”. This rule decided that URAA was an alternative to the affidavit law and that either of them are capable of being used to validate the out of state affidavit.
What has been your dealings with out of state notarizations?