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California - New Laws Affecting Notaries Public Beginning January 01, 2009
  New Law—Proof by Subscribing Witness (Civil Code Section 1196)
If a person, called the principal, has signed a document, but does not personally appear
before a notary public, another person can appear on the principal’s behalf to prove the
principal signed (or “executed”) the document. That person is called a subscribing witness.
(Code of Civil Procedure section 1935)
A proof of execution by a subscribing witness cannot be used in conjunction with any
quitclaim deed, grant deed (other than a trustee’s deed or deed of reconveyance), mortgage,
deed of trust, or security agreement. (Government Code section 27287 and Civil Code
section 1195(b)
The requirements for proof of execution by a subscribing witness are as follows:
• The subscribing witness must prove (say under oath) that the person who signed the
document as a party, the principal, is the person described in the document, and the
subscribing witness personally knows the principal (Civil Code section 1197); and
• The subscribing witness must say, under oath, that the subscribing witness saw the
principal sign the document or in the presence of the principal heard the principal
acknowledge that the principal signed the document (Code of Civil Procedure 1935 and
Civil Code section 1197); and
• The subscribing witness must say, under oath, that the subscribing witness was requested
by the principal to sign the document as a witness and that the subscribing witness did so
(Code of Civil Procedure 1935 and Civil Code section 1197); and
• The notary public must establish the identity of the subscribing witness by the oath of a
credible witness whom the notary personally knows and who personally knows the
subscribing witness. The credible witness must also present to the notary public any
identification document satisfying the requirements for satisfactory evidence as described
in Civil Code section 1185(b)(3) or (4). (Civil Code section 1196); and
• The subscribing witness must sign the notary public’s official journal. The credible
witness must sign the notary public’s official journal or the notary public must record in
the notary public’s official journal the type of identification document presented, the
governmental agency issuing the document, the serial number of the document, and the
date of issue or expiration of the document (Government Code section 8206(a)(2)(C) and
(D))
Note: The identity of the subscribing witness must be established by the oath of a credible
witness who personally knows the subscribing witness and who is known personally by the
notary public. In addition, the credible witness must present an identification document
satisfying the requirements of Civil Code section 1185(b)(3) or (4).

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