Many states don’t require a journal. However, your journal is your only evidence if you are investigated. As a Notary, for every 3000 Notary appointments (not acts) you do, you will probably be investigated once based on my personal experience. If fraud is involved on anybody’s part and you don’t have a journal entry, you will have no evidence and could be pulled into court for weeks which would result in your loss of income.
Additionally, we recommend the use of thumbprints in your journal for all critical notarizations, especially those involving Power of Attorney documents Living Wills, or Deeds affecting real estate. It only takes a few seconds to thumbprint someone. A thumbprint cannot be faked, but ID can, so you have no reason not to take thumbprints, and plenty of security related reasons to do so. NNA sells inkless thumbprinters for about $15.
If your state doesn’t require journals, use one anyway for your protection.
Back to the question. If there are TWO signers and THREE documents, you will need SIX journal entries. One per document per signer. What some Notaries do is they create one journal entry per signer and then indicate a list of all the notarized documents they signed. This is wrong and perhaps illegal. Not only is it bad to only create one journal entry per signer, but you might forget to add a document, or if there are cross outs after the fact it will look very sketchy.
However, you don’t need to write all of the info for each journal entry. The signer’s name, address, and ID information can be copied by putting a down arrow or “ditto” quotation marks. However, legally, the signer needs to sign for each document that is notarized and the name of the document, date, time, and type of notary act needs to be indicated for each document.
Additionally, there is an “additional notes” section of each journal entry near the right. If the building looks unusual you can take notes about the building. If the signer is acting weird or looks weird or has a tattoo on his neck or anything else unusual, you should write that in your journal to jog your memory if you ever have to go to court.
I did about 7000 Notary appointments and they all became a blurr to me. The only people I remember were Gary, the guy who blew up his apartment while experimenting with explosives (not a good idea) and a Korean lady who had me notarize the sales of her massage parlors (she paid cash). I also remember Dr. Kwak (pronounced Dr. Quack) who was an acupuncturist. I vaguely remember an impatient rich guy who lived in West Hollywood, did business deals in his pajamas, and played golf. And of course Mr. Yee the Attorney who had me do all of the Health Care Directives each with 80 pages of which I embossed every single page every single time to be prudent.
So, the moral of the story is that if you don’t know how to use your journal like a pro, the NNA has tutorials that you can purchase, and they are highly recommended as they could keep you out of court (or jail.) Or both!
You might also like:
An idea for safeguarding used notary journals
What entities might want to see your journal?
NNA – what every notary needs to know about notary journals