Happy New Year! Happy (?) New Laws!

Happy New Year! Happy (?) New Laws!

Hopefully, if you’re reading this at all today you’re doing so from the warmth and comfort of your home.  No one should be at the office on Sunday, particularly when it’s New Years Day.  Nevertheless, January 1, 2012, is a significant day, legally, as several new laws passed in the 2011 regular legislative session become effective today.  So, if you’ve enjoyed the requisite black-eyed peas and ham hocks that will ensure good luck during the New Year, it’s time to start your legal year off right, too, with a just a taste of these new laws.

One is the Alabama Uniform Power of Attorney Act (SB 53, Act 2011-683).  This act makes some significant changes in powers of attorney created on or after today.  Prior to its enactment, powers of attorney in Alabama automatically terminated if the person granting the power became incapacitated, unless the power specifically stated that it was a durable power which continued after incapacity.  Under the new law, a power of attorney is now presumed to be durable unless it states that it is not.

Another, the Alabama Revised Notary Act (SB 54, Act 2011-295) makes several changes to update the laws relating to notaries public.  It eliminates the requirement for an embossed seal, provides for statewide commissions for all notaries as new commissions are issued or old ones renewed, removes the statutory requirement for notaries to keep a journal and file it in probate court (who knew?), and increases the bond a notary must post from $10,000 to $25,000.

Also taking effect today is the Alabama Unsworn Foreign Declarations Act (HB 20, Act 2011-533), which affirms the validity of a document signed in a foreign country if the document states that it is signed under penalty of perjury.

And we bring up the rear with the enactment of the Alabama Uniform Rule Against Perpetuities Act (HB 28, Act 2011-532).  Alabama was the last of the 50 states to have the original common law Rule Against Perpetuities (remember that from law school?) in force.  This new statute seeks to prevent the harsh result of transfers which were declared void due to even a hypothetical violation of the rule and transfers to all of a class of persons declared void because the potential that the transfer might vest outside the permissible period as to a single member of the class.

If this little taste of new laws has left you hungering for more information on the changes each makes, see Bob McCurley’s Legislative Wrap-up in the November 2011 issue of The Alabama Lawyer for more details.

Happy New Year, and I wish you all well in the practice of law in 2012!