Louisiana laws on notaries public can be found in Title 35 of Louisiana Statutes. Pursuant to La. R.S. 35:1, the governor may appoint notaries public, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, and upon their meeting the qualifications for notaries public in the different parishes.
La. R.S. 35:2 provides that notaries public have power within their several parishes:
- To make inventories, appraisements, and partitions;
- To receive wills, make protests, matrimonial contracts, conveyances, and generally, all contracts and instruments of writing;
- To hold family meetings and meetings of creditors;
- To receive acknowledgments of instruments under private signature;
- To make affidavits of correction; and
- To affix the seals upon the effects of deceased persons and to raise the same.
Pursuant to La. R.S. 35:3, oaths and acknowledgments, in all cases, may be taken or made by or before any notary public duly appointed and qualified in the state of Louisiana.
Pursuant to La. R.S. 35:4, it is lawful for any notary public who is a stockholder, director, officer, or employee of a bank or other corporation to take the acknowledgment of any party to any written instrument executed to or by such corporation, or to administer an oath to any other stockholder, director, officer, employee, or agent of such corporation, or to protest for non-acceptance or nonpayment of bills of exchange, drafts, checks, notes, and other negotiable instruments which may be owned or held for collection by such corporation.
However, it is unlawful for any notary public to take the acknowledgment of an instrument by or to a bank or other corporation of which s/he is a stockholder, director, officer, or employee, where the notary is a party to such instrument, either individually or as a representative of such corporation, or to protest any negotiable instrument owned or held for collection by the corporation, where the notary is individually a party to the instrument[i].
Oaths, acts, and acknowledgments taken, made, or executed by or before any person purporting to be a notary public, duly appointed and duly qualified in any other state, territory of the U.S., or the District of Columbia has the same force and effect without further proof of the signatures as if taken, made, or executed by or before a notary public in Louisiana.[ii]
Pursuant to La. R.S. 35:10, all notarial acts should be made and executed at any place within the jurisdictional limits of the notary.
Any attorney at law, or person who was an attorney at law, who is disbarred or suspended from the practice of law due to charges filed by the Committee on Professional Responsibility of the Louisiana State Bar Association or who has consented to disbarment should not be qualified or eligible nor should s/he exercise any functions as a notary public in any parish of the state of Louisiana as long as s/he remains disbarred or suspended from the practice of law in Louisiana[iii].
La. R.S. 35:71 provides that the authority of a notary public to exercise any of the functions of a notary public within his/her jurisdictional limits remains in effect, if the notary posts and maintains bond, with good and solvent security, in the amount of ten thousand dollars conditioned on the faithful performance of all duties required by law toward all persons who may employ him/her in his/her official capacity as notary public, or that the notary maintains a minimum of ten thousand dollars in errors and omissions insurance coverage.
La. R.S. 35:131 provides that the secretary of state on behalf of the governor may grant leave of absence to notaries public for a period not exceeding thirty-six months, to date from the day the leave is granted. Further, absence from the state suspends the running of prescription against the notary.
Pursuant to La. R.S. 35:191, any person may be appointed as a notary public in and for the parish in which s/he resides and in and for any one other parish in which s/he maintains an office, provided that s/he:
- Is a resident citizen or alien of this state.
- Is eighteen years of age or older.
- Reads, writes, speaks, and is sufficiently knowledgeable of the English language.
- Is not under interdiction or incapable of serving as a notary because of mental infirmity.
- Meets the requirements established by law for each commission sought.
A person validly appointed notary public in the parish of his/her residence may exercise any and all of the functions of a notary public in an adjacent parish which has a population of less than thirty-five thousand and in which s/he maintains an office, without additional bonding or further application or examination[iv].
However, the notary public should file with the office of the secretary of state an affidavit giving the location of his/her office. Additionally, the applicant should obtain a dual commission by complying with the procedures established by the office of the secretary of state.
It is the duty of every notary public or other person authorized to exercise notarial functions in the state to whom the secretary of state has issued notary identification number to notify the office of the secretary of state within sixty days after the date of any change in residential address, mailing address, or both[v].
La. R.S. 35:192 provides that a bond should be submitted to the clerk of court and exofficio recorder of mortgages for the parish where the notary will exercise the functions of his/her office. Further, together with a certificate of competency, the bond should be filed in the office of the secretary of state.
Pursuant to La. R.S. 35:199, notaries public should record all acts of sale, exchange, donation, and mortgage of immovable property passed before them, together with all resolutions, powers of attorney, and other documents annexed to or made part of the acts, in their proper order.
Pursuant to La. R.S. 35:200, no action for damages against any notary public duly commissioned in any parish in this state, in the exercise of the functions of a notary public, should be brought unless filed in a court of competent jurisdiction and proper venue within one year from the date of the alleged act, omission, or neglect, or within one year from the date that the alleged act, omission, or neglect is discovered or should have been discovered.
Before the governor issues to the applicant a commission of notary public for any parish, s/he should require of him the production of all of the following[vi]:
- The certificate of character and fitness, if applicable.
- His/her oath of office.
- His/her bond, properly executed, approved and registered, or evidence of current insurance coverage.
- His/her official signature.
Upon the issuing of the commission, all of the above should be deposited in the office of the secretary of state and annexed in the margin of a book to be kept for that purpose by the secretary of state.
Pursuant to La. R.S. 35:391, any person may be appointed as an ex officio notary, provided s/he:
- Is a resident citizen or alien of the state.
- Is eighteen years of age or older.
- Is able to read, write, and speak the English language and be possessed of sufficient knowledge of the English language.
- Is not under interdiction or incapable of serving as an ex officio notary because of a mental infirmity.
- Is not under indictment for a felony and has not been convicted of a felony for which s/he has not been pardoned.
- Has given bond, with good and solvent security, in the sum of ten thousand dollars conditioned for the faithful performance of all duties required by law toward all persons who may employ him/her in his/her profession of ex officio notary, or s/he has maintained a minimum of ten thousand dollars in errors and omissions insurance coverage.
- In the case of a state employee who serves as an ex officio notary in the course and scope of his/her employment, records his/her oath of office with the secretary of state.
Any person who is an ex officio notary is authorized to perform those functions, powers, and authority only as they are directly related to and required for the operation of the office, agency, or department under which the authority is granted[vii].
A person, who has not first been duly authorized to exercise notarial powers or whose authority to exercise notarial powers has been judicially revoked, should not perform any of the following actions[viii]:
- Exercise or purport to exercise any notarial function.
- Hold himself out to the public as being entitled to exercise notarial functions.
- Render or furnish notarial services.
- Take any acknowledgment, administer any oath, or execute any instrument purportedly as a notary public or as a person purportedly authorized to exercise notarial power and authority.
- Assume to be a notary public or to be authorized to exercise notarial functions.
- Assume, use, or advertise the title of notary public or ex officio notary or equivalent terms in any language, or any similar title in such a manner as to convey the impression that he is authorized to exercise notarial powers.
Any person who violates any of these provisions will be fined not more than one thousand dollars or imprisoned for not more than two years, or both.
Further, the person will be required to make full restitution for all costs required to authenticate, confirm, or ratify any instruments that fail to qualify as notarial acts due to the lack of proper authority of the notary or purported notary, including all costs of recordation and all damages each affected party may suffer.
No person who has been duly appointed to the office of notary public or who has been otherwise authorized to exercise notarial functions should exercise any notarial function during any period when[ix]:
- His/her commission or authority to exercise notarial functions is either:
- Statutorily or judicially suspended.
- Statutorily or administratively revoked.
- S/he is no longer validly commissioned in this state.
- S/he has elected to place his/her commission in retirement status.
- S/he is no longer validly possessed of the office or position from which his/her authority to exercise notarial functions was derived.
- S/he has been convicted of a felony and has not been pardoned.
- S/he is not authorized by law to exercise that particular notarial function.
Any person who knowingly violates any of these provisions will be fined not more than one thousand dollars and will be required to make full restitution for all costs required to authenticate, confirm, or ratify any instruments that fail to qualify as notarial acts due to the lack of proper authority of the notary or purported notary, including all costs of recordation and all damages each affected party may suffer.
In addition to these penalties, the person will also be subject to a suspension or revocation of his/her commission and will be subject to being permanently enjoined from exercising any notarial function in any capacity.
[i] La. R.S. 35:4.
[ii] La. R.S. 35:5.
[iii] La. R.S. 35:14.
[iv] La. R.S. 35:191 (A) (2).
[v] La. R.S. 35:191.3.
[vi] La. R.S. 35:201.
[vii] La. R.S. 35:392.1.
[viii] La. R.S. 35:601.
[ix] La. R.S. 35:602.