H.B. No. 242


Bill Description

Governor Bush signed HB 242 on June 20, 1997. HB 242 becomes effective on September 1, 1997.

This bill adds Section 406.0165 to the Government Code setting forth a procedure whereby a notary public may sign a document on behalf of a person who is "physically unable to sign or make a mark on a document." There must be a disinterested witness present, and the notary must add a special certification set forth in the statute.

The legislative history (testimony before the Senate Jurisprudence Committee) makes clear that, if there was another way to get a person's signature on a document under existing law (for example, Section 59 of the Probate Code provides that a will may be signed "by another person for [the testator] by his direction and in his presence"), that way still works. In other words, the bill adds a new way to get the signature on a document, not the exclusive way.

The legislative history also makes clear that the new method works to overcome a physical impairment only -- it doesn't provide a means to get around a mental impairment.

The Senate Jurisprudence Committee tacked on an amendment defining "disability" to mean "a physical impairment that impedes the ability to sign or make a mark on a document." That was meant to clarify that the statute applied only to execution of documents for someone suffering such a disability and not to, for example, an illiterate person. Unfortunately, while the word "disability" is used in the heading for Section 406.0165, it is not used in the text of the section. Thus, arguably, the definition of "disability" applies to nothing.

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Copyright © 1997 by Glenn M. Karisch. This page was last revised on June 23, 1997.