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November 4, 2013

Notary Journals from A to Z

Not all states require a notary public to keep a notary journal. However, we recommend keeping one for all notary acts simply because it is your only evidence if subpoenaed to court or investigated. The purpose of a notary public is to identify signers and deter fraud. If you don’t keep proper records of notary transactions, several years after the fact, you will have no way to investigate whether the transaction was fraudulent or not. A prudent notary keeps a bound and sequential notary journal and keeps all transactions logged in chronological order.

Information recorded in a journal entry:
Date & Time — i.e. 12:04pm
Type of Notarization — i.e. Acknowledgment, Jurat, Oath, etc.
Document Date
Name & Address of the Signer
Identification of the Signer — i.e. type of identification or credible witnesses
Additional Notes
Signature of the Signer
Notary Fees
Thumbprint of the Signer

Q&A
Q. If I am doing a notarization near midnight, what date do I put on the transaction?
A. Date the transaction based on when the signer signed the journal which happens at a point in time rather than a range of twenty minutes which is how long a notary transaction could take in its entirety.

Q. What do I put in the additional notes section?
A. If you are pulled into court several years after the fact, good notes in your journal might help to remind you about the notarization. You could describe the building, or unusual features of the signers or their behavior.

Q. If I’m doing a loan signing for a fixed fee, how do I document the notary fees?
A. Most notary jobs involve one or two notarized documents and there is a fee per document. If doing a package deal, try to divide the fee for each notary done, or just indicate the total fee for the signing. The important thing is to keep accurate documentation.

Q. Is it important to take journal thumbprints?
A. Yes. Identification documents can be falsified, but you cannot falsify a thumbprint before a notary. You should ideally take a flat impression from the signer’s right thumb for your journal thumbprint. Additionally, I have never heard of a falsified thumbprint ever being used. A thumbprint can keep you out of court as it proves the identity of the signer. I was once investigated and the investigation ended two seconds after I mentioned that I had a journal thumbprint of the signer.

Q. How do I store my journal?
A. You current journal should be kept under lock and key when not in use. Some states require this by law, but it is recommended for all states. Keep fully used journals in a safe storage spot somewhere.

Q. How long do I keep my journal?
Keep your journal until the end of your notary commission. Some states want you to submit your journals to the secretary of state’s office or county recorder when your term is done if you don’t renew. Each state has their own rules, so please ask your state’s notary division.

You might also like:

Everything you need to know about journals
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=70

Index of posts about Notary journals
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=20272

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May 23, 2012

Where do credible witnesses sign the notary journal book

Filed under: Credible Witnesses,Journals — Tags: , , , — admin @ 12:26 pm

Where do credible witnesses sign the notary journal (register)(book)? 

Some states require notaries to carry an official journal of notarial acts while others recommend it, but don’t require it. Some states call the journal of notarial acts a journal, while others call it a registry or a book.  The main thing to remember, is that a good notary journal must be bound and sequential. Each entry must be in chronological order.  Different journal manufacturers make journals differently.  I recommend getting one with a thumbprint section and space to write notes. Most states don’t require notaries to take thumbprints, but for your security as a notary, you need thumbprints to keep you out of court if anyone questions whether the signer was a fraud or imposter.  Thumbprints are a better proof of identity than any other means.
 
The credible witness signs the notary journal in the additional notes section!
They do NOT sign in the signature area!!!  Signature areas are for the document signer, and only one document signer can sign in a particular journal entry’s signature area. If there are two signers, then make two journal entries!  The credible witness must sign in the notes section because there is blank space there.  You should document the credible witness’s identification, phone, and address to be thorough.
 
The notary needs to administer an Oath to the credible witness where the credible witness must swear to the identity of the signer. Make sure the credible witness really knows the signer well, otherwise they are not really qualified to identify someone that they know only as “Ralph”, and don’t even know his middle or last name!

You might also like:

Everything you need to know about notary journals
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=70

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April 13, 2012

Do notary journals need to be kept under lock and key?

Do notary journals need to be kept under lock and key?
 
Notary rules differ from state to state. Many states don’t even require a notary to have a journal, or notary seal.  However, California requires the use of both a notary journal and seal, and both must be kept under lock and key.  However, there is a catch.  The currently used journal must be locked up and access must exclusive to the notary public that it belongs to.  Co-workers and bosses can not look at the journal without the notary being present.  USED journals that have been filled out to their completion can be stored at the notary’s home, office, etc., but don’t need to be locked up. 
 
When a notary’s commission is over, they must return all journals (California notary journals) (current and completed) to the county clerk’s office or whatever agency the notary division in their state appoints for them.
 
California notary journal rules might not apply to other states, but you should be careful with your journal and seal in any case as it contains really important information. Additionally your California notary seal, or seal from another state could be used for fraud, so you need to prevent that from happening if possible.

You might also like:

Index of posts about journals
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=20272

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November 19, 2011

How do I fill out a Notary Journal Entry?

How do I fill out a journal entry?
 
Please keep in mind that rules and standards for notary procedures can vary from state to state across the United States.  As a general rule, there are certain areas of confusion that we want to make it a point to clarify.
 
Q. Do I need to have a separate journal entry for each signature that I notarize
A. Yes!  Imagine that you are notarizing signatures on a set of loan documents.  Let’s say that there are four documents to be notarized and both husband and wife need to sign each one — you have eight notarized signatures and eight journal entries. 
One journal entry per notarized signature.
 
Q. Does each journal entry need to be signed?
A. Yes!  The individual whose signature you are notarizing needs to sign the corresponding journal entry.
 
Q.  What about thumbprints? Do I need to take a thumbprint?
A.  Sometimes!  For Deeds and Power of Attorney documents in California, you must take a thumbprint.  For other states, there are different standards, but it is always better to have a journal thumbprint just so you can be 100% sure of the signers identity.  ID’s can be forged, but thumbprints of a live person in front of you can not be forged!
 
Q.  What goes in a notary journal entry?
Date &Time,
Type of notarization (i.e. acknowledgment, jurat, oath, affirmation, protest, etc.)
Name of the document being notarized (i.e. affidavit, deed of trust, occupancy affidavit, etc.)
Document date (documents don’t always have a document date, but if you have 20 documents called “affidavit”, you need to distinguish them somehow and a date might help)
Name and address of signer
Identification of signer
Additional notes
Signature of the signer
Thumbprint of the signer (optional in many states)
 
Q.  What if I’m doing a signing that starts at 11:55pm and ends at 12:05am the next day, what date do I use?
A.  You can use either day, but I would date the notary act at the exact time that the signer signs your journal since that is a definitive POINT in time, rather than a range of time.  Some notary acts allow the signer to sign the document BEFORE they see the notary making the document signing a poor choice for a definitive point in time to date the transaction.
 
Q.  Can I make recommendations for what type of notarizations the signers should get since I know more than them?
A.  No! That is considered giving legal advice  (unauthorized practice of law) in many states. Let them choose on their own, although you can tell them what is “normal” as well as explaining the characteristics of each type of notary act in your state.
 
Q. What if many documents I am notarizing all have the same name?
A. It is good to distinguish documents by other characteristics. If you have 20 Grant Deeds to be notarized by the same signer on the same day, you can note the property addresses indicated on the Grant Deed to distinguish which document you were really notarizing. Otherwise, if you ever go to court, you will not be able to tell the judge if you notarized a particular Grant Deed for that particular signer. Imagine what would happen if he did a 21st Grant Deed after you left and forged your seal on the certificate section and claimed that you notarized it.  If your journal doesn’t describe EXACTLY which documents were notarized, you can get duped by a sophisticated fraud!
 
Q.  Name and address of signer, do I have to write this for each entry?
A.  You can write the name and address of a particular signer, and then draw an arrow down for all documents with that person’s signature being notarized. Each document gets it’s own journal entry per signer.  If you have Joe signing four documents and Sally signing four documents, make sure the journal entries for Joe are all sequential so that they will be consecutive and all in the same place.  Then below those entries you can write Sally’s name and address and a separate entry for all of her documents that she is signing.  Example: Lets say your journal page has eight entries.  Entry 1, 2, 3, and 4 would be for Joe. Joes name and address would be on the first entry along with a particular document name and other information.  For entry 2, 3, and 4, you would see different document names, and an arrow indicating that the signer was still Joe and that his information was the same.  Journal entries 5, 6, 7, 8 would be for Sally and her information would go on entry 5 along with a particular document’s name, and then 6, 7, 8 would have document names and an arrow in the name/address field to indicate that it is still Sally who is the signer.  Make sure Joe signs all four of his entries, and that Sally signs for all four of her entries, otherwise you get in trouble if audited.
 
Q.  How do I identify a signer?
A. Rules are different from state to state.  Some states allow a notary to personally know a signer to constitute being positively identified.  Others allow credible witnesses.  All states allow a signer to be identified through the use of current identity documents such as drivers licenses, passports, state identification cards, etc.  The documents (cards) must have a photo, signature, physical description, name, address, expiration date, and serial number to be acceptable.  Some states allow a card to be used for a grace period after it expires.  If your state allows the card to be used five years after it’s issue date, then you need to be able to read the code on the card to figure out when it was issued.
 
Q. Additional notes — what is that for?
A.  If you use credible witnesses, you document their signatures and other information in the additional notes section.  If you want to document unusual situations, or unusual characteristics of the signers, that is the place to put it.  If you are ever called to court, the information in your journal is the ONLY way you will remember the signing in many cases, especially if you do four signings per day over a course of 12 years.  Example: “The male signer Joe looked like a walrus.Sally had a squeeky voice and seemed nervous.”
 
Q.  Signature area – who signs in the signature area?
A.  The signer of a particular document signs in the signature area (not the notary).  Only one signature per journal entry.  If two people are signing the same document, just create a new journal entry for the second signer with the same document name.  This is not rocket science!
 
Q.  Thumbprint area – do I need to have a thumbprint?
A.  Please educate you on your state law. Some states require thumbprints for particular documents and others don’t.  It is better to have a thumbprint just in case you are called into court.  Your court case might be faster (or not happen at all) if you have proof of the identity of the signer such as a thumbprint.

You might also like:

Index of posts about journals
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=20272

Rude Notaries!

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September 7, 2010

Everything you need to know about journals

Everything you need to know about notary journals.
Not all states require a journal of official notary acts. However, it is wise for notaries to keep a journal, as it is a record of all notary acts that they have ever done. A notary journal is a bound and sequential book containing records of all notary acts done by a particular notary. If a notary completes all the entry of a particular journal, they can start a second journal.

What goes in a journal entry?
(1) The date and time of the notarization
(2) Type of notarization
(3) Name of the document and document date (if there is one ),
(4) Name and address of the signer
(5) Type of identification ( personally known to the notary, credible witnesses, or ID document )
(6) State/Country, Serial #, and expiration date of the ID.
(7) Additional notes
(8) Signature of the signer
(9) Thumbprint of the signer
(10) Notary fee charged (if any)

The additional notes section is a part of the journal not understood by many notaries.
If credible witnesses are used, their signatures and ID’s should be recorded in the additional notes section.
If any unusual situations arise during the notarization, or there is anything unusual about the signer or the venue, that should be documented in the additional notes section. If travel fees are charged, that too can be documented in the additional notes section.

Journal thumbprints
Not all states require journal thumbprints. However, documents effecting real estate or large amounts of money should have a journal thumbprint accompany their notarization. A thumbprint is the only absolute way to identify a signer if fraud is suspected. ID cards and signatures can be forged, but a person’s thumbprint is unique to that individual. If a notarization is ever investigated due to suspicion as to the identity of the signer, a thumbprint can end the investigation cold in its tracks and possibly save the notary from having to appear in court.

Lock and key
The notary must keep their journal under lock and key. Bosses, co-workers, family members, and strangers alike are not allowed to inspect the notary journal without the presence of the notary. They are not allowed to do notarizations with the notary’s seal and journal under any circumstances.

Lost, stolen, or damaged journals
If your journal gets lost, stolen or damaged, contact your state’s notary division immediately and let them know what happened in writing.

What do you do with your journal when your commission is over?
If you don’t renew your commission, ask your state notary division what to do with your journal. It is most likely that they will need to be submitted to your county recorder’s office.

Where do I purchase a journal?
Notary journals can be purchased from the NNA, or from many other vendors on the internet. Some local office supply stores might have journals too, although that is not a predictable place to buy journals unless you are sure they have them.

How many journal entries do I create?
If one signer signs one document, create one journal entry. If one signer signs two notarized documents, that would necessitate two journal entries. If three signers each sign two notarized documents, thats six journal entries, all of which need to be signed by the corresponding signer.

Where do I keep my journal when I’m not using it?
Keep it under lock and key. You can have a notary carry all bag with a mini-lock, or keep it locked in a desk drawer to which only you have the key. Nobody else should ever be able to access your journal

What if someone has an inquiry about a particular journal entry?
Just ask them what the date of the notarization was and the name of the signer, and look it up in your journal. If you have several journals in your archives, you may have to go through your archives. You can make a copy of the journal entry and send it to the person making the inquiry, but hide information pertaining to notarizations of other individuals on that same page.

Tweets:
(1) A journal entry must include: time & date, type of notarization, doc name, name & address of signer…
(2) Journals must be kept under lock & key and returned to the county clerk at the end of your commission.
(3) Learn the finer points of journal entries: where credible witnesses sign, thumbprints & notes.
(4) Everything you need to know about journals, but were afraid to ask.

You might also like:

Index of posts about Notary journals
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=20272

How do I fill out a Notary Journal entry?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=1725

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