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January 3, 2017

Who is the Notary?

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — Tags: — admin @ 12:17 am

Who is the Notary?

Frequently, in over a decade of doing this, an occurring event is: a request for backdating, either directly or processing yesterday’s docs today, without updating the date in the notarization. What dates are in the rest of the doc is of no concern to me. One dim bulb in escrow connected me to the LO for “clarification” of the rules. “Any date in the notary section may be used as long as you have the permission of the LO in charge of the transaction”. “The LO has final “say” in all matters”!

Readers, ya better open your window; from here on the stink will be getting worse. Sayeth the LO: the escrow manager told you how to proceed – and the “entries” in question “require” the notary section to conform to the rest of the document. You risk a costly lawsuit if you “intentionally” cause the funding to be cancelled!” That LO must have a PHD (Piled Higher & Deeper) because rarely is so much BS directed in my direction. Mr. LO: MY definition of the “notarization date” is the date the notarization was performed. LO: you are being “an obstructionist”, your insistence will cause financial damage to many, especially to you.

Well, I detect a smidgen of truth in LO’s statement. Specifically the LO will not receive, or have delayed; the commission. So, I make a “small” request. LO, sayeth this humble scribe; I was not aware of the broad scope of your authority over all specific entries in the package. Perhaps I misunderstood my reading of rules and laws governing my actions. Thank You for the new information. I consider myself a fastidious notary, and keep very detailed records regarding the assignments I process. Ours, up this point; have been verbal communications – I need but a moment of your time to add some documentation to the project’s file. Please type out on company stationary what you wish me to do and hand sign it. Also sign under a photocopy of your driver license. Email to me both attachments directly from the computer at your office, not your cell phone. Watta surprise, the requested email never arrives.

Now to today, and it’s nowhere as near egregious as the prior LO BS. Today’s issue was about one of the most basic concepts that govern our daily activities. Namely, who is the notary? Who is the ultimate authority as to what you actually do, and/or permit? It really was about a small thing. On the pre-entered Patriot Act form, the driver license number had a transposition of two digits. The simple fix would be to redo the document. But, that option was not available as the borrower copy was identical; and no blanks were available. I only mentioned it, while at my PC, because a license photocopy (only for return with the docs) had just arrived. When asked if I had the images, I mentioned the need for me to correct and initial the related document: Patriot Act ID form.

That started an email storm that numbered over two dozen! The Bank Officer was insistent that the borrower initial the change – “It’s the borrowers license number, ONLY the borrower has any right to alter what was printed”. What this notary-should-never-be failed to accept (after being told several times) is that I, and only I; am the one signing the form. It is my understanding that all signatories to a document initial any handwritten changes. Only them. It is MY statement as to the ID that I observed, and I am the only one signing the form.

As misunderstanding and not outright fraud was in play, the “signed letter” response seemed overkill. We reached a compromise; something I rarely do. But, in this case, I felt comfortable with being flexible. How about if the borrower initials after I initial? Fine, chirped the BO (sometimes an abbreviation can add a new and justified connotation); as long as I have the borrower initials I’m fine. So was I – because the “solution” came from me, based on my understanding of applicable notary law.

Yes, I know, when the borrower initialed the document, that, in itself, was a change to the document that only I signed. Thus, it “might” follow that I should initial after the borrower initials to “accept” the change (addition of borrower initials) to the document that only I signed. Sorry, I seem to have taken you from a bad smelling situation to one that is making both of us dizzy. Suffice to say that I did not re-initial. I had already initialed and it just seemed absurd to take that path. Back to the main message: you not they, must decide how things are to take place; with the highest objective being notary action legality. However the chips fall, the notary has the final/only say.

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December 27, 2016

The Care and Feeding of Mentors

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — Tags: — admin @ 11:01 pm

The Care and Feeding of Mentors
Jeremy published an excellent article on finding a Mentor – http://blog.123notary.com/?p=16793 OK, you followed the advice and found one willing to work with you. Now what? That is the essence of this post.
“I’m in a hurry, I don’t have much time in my schedule to devote to study or research; the bottom line is this: I want to know specifically, using my Notary License, exactly what you can do to make me rich”.

Believe it or not, that is essentially what several Mentor requesting notaries have asked me. A common theme is that they want the “fast path” to the Big Bucks. They perceive their Notary status as having the deed to a gold mine, if only they could find the exact location of their mine, to pick up the nuggets lying about for the taking. In a similar manner, when I go to the NY State Dept. offices (which administer Notary and Real Estate Broker license tests) I often hear the prospective Brokers discussing the “killing” they plan to make by selling the Empire State Building – “that commission alone will set me for life”.

There is nothing wrong with having high aspiration, but it’s real life that it also requires a large amount of perspiration to “get there”. Delusional can be defined as a false or mistaken belief or idea about something. I don’t use that word to be critical, but rather to stress the point. A Mentor devotes their time, and shares their skills and knowledge; generally without compensation. That is not always the case. I had a request to teach how to process some rather complex documents – it took a full “hands on” day; and I was paid accordingly. However, that is a rare exception.

Most requests for me to Mentor come via email and start with a liberal dose of flattery. OK, it makes sense to say something nice to someone you want to do you a favor. As covered in the above mentioned blog; I really don’t want to create competition “across the street”. So far, that has not been the case. It’s a heavy lift to train someone to be a Signing Agent from “scratch”. So I usually suggest they take a course on the subject and really learn the material. There are several sources for “basic training”. It’s just too time consuming to cover the Venue, ID requirements, Oath, and such. When I was learning to fly an airplane, initially I read about theory, and then flew simulation on my PC, graduating to renting a plane and an instructor. Getting in the plane with instructor and not knowing anything would be inefficient.

The following scenario has repeated itself several times over the past decade. I receive the request, with flattery, to help someone who wants to grow their business. Rarely is there a specific question included, just the general goal of self improvement (scores intent points) and, of course, the desire for more money. That’s fine with me – they are, in my mind, a “contender” wanting to better themselves. So, with my very first email reply I want to determine if they are willing to really WORK for their goals.
I give a “homework assignment” – it’s always the same. I ask that they read my last dozen, or more if they wish; blog entries. Then, citing which blog they are referring to: ask 12 detailed questions that relate to an issue or concept in that blog that is unclear or should be expanded upon. Why? If I’m to spend time being a true Mentor, I have to “know” the person I am working for (yes it’s working for). They have to show me that they really will put “skin in the game” and work for their own benefit. I also want to see their writing skills and get a sense of what they consider important to learn. This dispels the myth that I have a bucket of knowledge that I can simply pour in their direction. As Jeremy mentioned, there is a vast wealth in the blogs, of which my stuff makes a minor, but often useful contribution.

Sad to say: to date not a single “student” submitted their homework – not one! My intent was never to “chase them away” – If I wanted to do that I would simply reply that I was too busy. Beginners: let your prospective Mentor know that you are willing and able to WORK hard “with” them, for your gains.

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December 4, 2016

Power of Attorney – Notary Processing Mistakes

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — Tags: , — admin @ 9:20 pm

Playing Lawyer

You’re going there to notarize, that’s what you do. The caller asked you to bring some blank copies of a “standard” Power of Attorney. I think not. There many different formats to the Power of Attorney document. Selecting, as when you provide a document; could probably be interpreted as the Illegal Practice of Law. You don’t know their requirements, but you happen to have some documents titled Power of Attorney – a recipe for disaster. We notarize upon proof and oath; it’s their responsibility to know what they are signing. That applies to Principal, Agent, Monitor and Successor Agent.

Fuzzy Job Specifications

I need my signature notarized on a Power of Attorney form. Do you accept that sole statement? Does the caller have the form(s)? Is the caller the Principal granting the powers? Will there be Agent(s) and Successor Agent(s). You probably inquired about the ID that will be presented by the caller – but do you know anything about the ID status of others to be notarized? Will all parties be present when you arrive, or will there be a lengthy wait for a tardy Agent? The caller mentioned “a” Power of Attorney form, that’s true enough – but are ten more duplicates awaiting you? Did you schedule this as a “quick one” with your next assignment very soon?

Accepting Risk

You want to avoid accepting risk. One tool is having the assignment prepaid. A more important tool is communication with your client. Stress that the signature(s) of the Principal, Agent and Successor Agent must have proper supporting ID, and that the name on the ID must match the name to be notarized on the Power of Attorney. I make it very clear: “If any person to be notarized has an ID issue that precludes notarization; you will get my sincere regrets, but not a refund”. Hospital jobs have access concerns when the Principal is the patient.

Not Sharing your Knowledge

Many are new to using a Power of Attorney. They often assume a photocopy will be accepted and that they need only one original. That is often not the case. Offer duplicates for a modest fee. Blank areas might require a N/A. Use your embosser – it’s required to submit the document to Federal Courts, and might be required if the document leaves the state where notarized. Clients can forget that most Power of Attorney documents require the authority of Agent, and Successor Agent to be specified. This is usually done by the Principal initialing various “right granting” sections giving authority to one or more Agents, and, or, Successor Agents – easy to overlook.

It’s also easy to overlook the “Separately” initial area. When there is more than one Agent or Successor Agent; the common document default is that they must act in unison. Often, the independent ability of these agents is desired; this requires initials in the appropriate area.

Disorderly Processing

In our signings we complete one document then move on to the next one. Processing a stack of identical Power of Attorney documents is best handled differently. I prefer the “same thing over and over” approach. An entry on the first copy is propagated to the remaining copies. Then the next entry is made in a similar manner. This is easier for all involved as they, after the first two or three; are “familiar” with “what goes where”. After ID checking, and notary oath administration(s) – the notarizations can proceed in a similar manner. Mentally tie to giving the oath asking the affiants if they returned their ID to a safe place. This avoids being called to return their ID when they misplaced it – this happened to me a few times.

The Introduction to the Power of Attorney, New York Statutory Short Form

CAUTION TO THE PRINCIPAL: Your Power of Attorney is an important document. As the “principal,” you give the person whom you choose (your “agent”) authority to spend your money and sell or dispose of your property during your lifetime without telling you. You do not lose your authority to act even though you have given your agent similar authority.

When your agent exercises this authority, he or she must act according to any instructions you have provided or, where there are no specific instructions, in your best interest. “Important Information for the Agent” at the end of this document describes your agent’s responsibilities.

Your agent can act on your behalf only after signing the Power of Attorney before a notary public.

You can request information from your agent at any time. If you are revoking a prior Power of Attorney, you should provide written notice of the revocation to your prior agent(s) and to any third parties who may have acted upon it, including the financial institutions where your accounts are located.

You can revoke or terminate your Power of Attorney at any time for any reason as long as you are of sound mind. If you are no longer of sound mind, a court can remove an agent for acting improperly.

Your agent cannot make health care decisions for you. You may execute a “Health Care Proxy” to do this.

If there is anything about this document that you do not understand, you should ask a lawyer of your own choosing to explain it to you

Have you asked the Principal, Agent, Monitor, and Successor Agent – if they have read and understood the disclosures, usually on the first page of the Power of Attorney document?

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November 24, 2016

Photocopy of ID for a Power of Attorney?

Filed under: Ken Edelstein,Power of Attorney — Tags: — admin @ 11:38 pm

Photocopy of ID for a Power of Attorney?
Confession is good for the soul, though sometimes it might land you in the Pokey. With trembling fingers and much trepidation; I relate the following sad story. Before doing so, please understand that I receive many of my blog entries from what happened to me: http://kenneth-a-edelstein.com

It’s a close call, perhaps even a tie. No, I’m giving the Power of Attorney top billing for fraud potential, first runner up will be the Deed. I have heard the Power of Attorney referred to as “the cocaine of legal documents” – strong language indeed! With that, and the first paragraph as background:

The call comes in from a highly distraught caller, the parent is terminal. The sibling needs a Power of Attorney – urgently and quickly. It was difficult to obtain the information I require to determine if the request should be accepted. I don’t have “higher” ID requirements to process a Power of Attorney; to me a notarization is a notarization. Sometimes the methodology differs, but, basically we ID, witness signature, give oath, then complete notary section. In addition to a nice clean, well inked, stamp; it is my custom to emboss every time.

Back to the caller. With hospital situations the ID is often a problem. I managed to learn that both the patient and the sibling have driver license photo ID. Never skimp on the oath with any part of a Power of Attorney. So, I inquire as to the patient’s ability to understand the document, my notary oath; and is able to sign unassisted. OK so far, there will be two copies processed of the Power of Attorney; and both the Principal and the sibling Agent will be notarized. As this was to be done in the room of a terminal cancer patient, I was told I would have to “suit up” to protect the patient.

In a prior blog http://blog.123notary.com/?p=16469 – I had harsh words for notaries who refused a blind affiant. Well, I’m sure many would not want this assignment. Going into a terminal cancer situation is emotionally taxing. Again, I stress the “ground rules” for me to be able to notarize. The Agent wishes to PayPal, immediately – probably assuming that would assure my arrival. She mentioned that the hospital was in possession of the patient’s credentials, and that obtaining the driver license would not be a problem.

Surprise. I am shown a photocopy of the Patient’s driver license. I gently go into my explanation of why a photocopy cannot be accepted. I had to. Unfortunately, the Agent broke down in tears. The Power of Attorney, while not being a Health Care Proxy; was desperately needed for some expenses. I am as empathetic as most, but a Photocopy? Not a chance – not because it’s a Power of Attorney, but because that does not (in my sole opinion) meet the NY State standard of being shown “adequate proof”.

“The Patient Representative just delivered it to me”, “they cannot release the patient’s property unless I have a Power of Attorney”. Verifying with the Patient Representative, who had multiple hospital photo ID tags prominently displayed, “I cannot release any items, but did provide the driver license photocopy, made moments ago”. I accept the photocopy as valid ID, now being “adequate proof” – in my opinion.

I suit up. Facemask, hand washing, rubber gloves, cap and complete cover all gown. The patient cannot talk due to apparatus in throat; but is aware and answers some basic “understanding” questions with head motions. Patient, now Principal on the Power of Attorney, is just barely able to sign. I administer the oath and receive an affirmative series of “nods”. We adjourn to a conference room to process the Agent of the Power of Attorney and complete the paperwork. Another “rough” one, complete with a variance from “standards”.
I’m glad I was called first. I would not want “declining notaries” to exacerbate my client’s mental state.

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November 20, 2016

Power Of Attorney Documents – Submitted as a double credit document

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — Tags: — admin @ 9:22 pm

Power of Attorney vs a Will
There are many types of Power of Attorney documents. However, the general theme is that someone is granting authority to someone else. A Will contains the maker’s words, directives and decisions. The executor of a Will is not a decider of asset allocation, rather a facilitator of the deceased’s allocation desires. In contrast to a Will, the Agent of the Principal (of a Power of Attorney) “may” have the authority to “call the shots” – or, the Agent may be severely constrained. Usually the Agent has “some” authority to sign for the Principal. In almost all cases, the authority granted by a Power of Attorney ceases upon the Principal’s death. The Principal granting power to the Agent may revoke such power at any time unless incapacitated. A Will can also be revoked, until Probate…..

Lifespan of the Power of Attorney
The Durable Power of Attorney – (General or Limited) remains in effect when the Principal becomes incapacitated. If the Power of Attorney is not Durable, the authority of the Agent does not exist if the Principal is in no condition to revoke the authority.

The Springing Power of Attorney – Similar to the Durable, the Springing only “comes into effect” when the Principal is incapacitated. As the definition of incapacitation can vary, the specific definition of the “trigger” should be specified in detail in the document itself.

Scope of the Power of Attorney

The General Power of Attorney – This allows the Agent to sign the name of the Principal unless it’s illegal for them to do so. One example: you can’t grant power for someone to sign your notary signature. If the word Durable is included, the power remains unless revoked or death of the Principal.

The Limited Power of Attorney – (sometimes called a Special Power of Attorney) grants from Principal to Agent authority to perform specific actions. Often this format contains an expiration date. Commonly used with loan documents, authority is granted for the Agent to sign various paperwork related to obtaining real estate.

Entitlement of Agent to Receive Payment

Unrelated to the “Gift Rider”; when the Agent manages (in some jurisdictions) property, they have a statutory right to be paid. Amounts vary, but a very rough guideline (unless otherwise specified) is:
3% of money received by the attorney,
3% of money paid out by the attorney on your behalf, and
3/5 of 1% of the average annual value of the assets covered under your power of attorney.

In personal transactions, the Agent has no right to be paid unless specified by the Principal. In some cases, the Agent applies to the Court to allow payment for Agent Services. In the vast majority of what we will see as Notary Publics, payment is rarely a concern or specified. When a payment arrangement exists, it will usually be part of a separate contract and not contained in the distributed Power of Attorney.

How the Agent uses their Authority

Assume Lock is giving Key an Agent relationship. Key would probable use one of the following formats:
Lock by Key as Attorney-In-Fact
Key as Attorney-In-Fact for Lock
Opinions vary, I prefer the first example because Lock is written first matching the “under the line”.

Considerations for the Notary

ID – Follow your jurisdiction requirements – To The Letter. Power of Attorney documents can easily be litigated in a court. Look very closely at the ID, if it’s a 35 year ago picture does it look like the affiant?

Capability – a tough one, but I like to ask why they are signing, what does this document do?

Initials – Almost never required, but let’s think about it a bit. Initials are mainly used to acknowledge seeing a page. But, I submit they also “mark” a specific page as having been accepted. While I don’t suggest affiants to initial each page (Principal, Agent(s), Monitor(s) and Successor Agent(s)) – I would insist upon it if I was the Principal and not the Notary.

Blank Lines – The Principal should consider a N/A in each not-applicable area. For example: there is usually an area for the “second agent”. If this was subsequently completed, and a “loose ack” added to the document – it might appear that the second agent was approved by the Principal.

Oath – I know, many do not bother to administer an oath. On Power of Attorney documents ya better!

Suggest More, Earn More – Under most jurisdictions, a photocopy of a notarized document – is Not a notarized document. One copy will suffice for a task specific use, as in a Signing. However, a general care giver might need many copies. It is likely that a financial institution will require an original for them to permit the Agent to use their power(s). Your client might not know this, often they assume a photo copy will work the same as an original that was “wet signed” and embossed. A few dollars for each extra copy is a value to your client and might add up to some Sesame Chicken for you.

Witnesses – rare for Power of Attorney but does occur. I feel the witnesses should also be notarized whenever possible. The California “Long Form” Acknowledgement is perfect for this as it has specific areas to associate the “loose ack” to witnessing the document.

Closing Thoughts

I receive many calls for processing Power of Attorney documents. Often the caller is somewhat angry about their recent notary experience. They relate that the notary at the bank refused to notarize a totally legal to process document, it’s bank policy – they relate. The bank does not want their “deep pockets” as part of litigation. These are much more likely to be contested than an application for a passport.

It’s not often, but sometimes someone wants me to notarize their self written Power of Attorney. Of course I can do that, but I caution them that, in the majority of my experience – the document is not in a state specific standard form. Furthermore, your document might not be accepted as you intend. I am willing to proceed, but you have been cautioned that it might not suffice. They can make an informed decision.

Sometimes for a Power of Attorney signing I receive a copy (photocopy or via email) of the relevant Power of Attorney. They send it so I can “verify” and “accept” the Agent signing for the Principal. It is my opinion that I have no requirement to see that document. First, I am not an Attorney, and “technically” am not qualified to judge, read, or take any action; even if the original “wet signed” was submitted. Nor would I be in a position to know if the authority had been revoked, or if the Principal is deceased. When I notarize “Lock by Key as Attorney-in-Fact” – I am notarizing Key – only. Key is stating explicitly, and under oath (I think – it gets a bit fuzzy here, I’m not an attorney) that Key currently has AIF authority.

At the start of this blog entry I mentioned Lifespan and Scope and covered the more commonly used documents. Note that their characteristics can be combined in multiple ways. I think there could be, of the ones covered Four Factorial permutations: 4 * 3 * 2 *1 = 24 variations! This is one document that I never want to have to read and explain (with liability!) to those I will notarize.

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September 27, 2016

The Nose Best Notary

OK, I’ll admit it – I cheated. Of course the title should use the word “knows”. But, there seems to be a problem in the notary community. A disproportionate percentage of notaries feel they are a “cut above” the rest of the field. Not a tiny cut, but by a wide margin – knowledge wise. Many of us seem to consider ourselves the best – not “one of the best” but “the ultimate notary”, why?

I’ll venture a guess. It’s that the vast majority work for themselves. They answer to no one. Thus, they do their own “self evaluations” and, surprise – bask with pride at their reflected image. Wake up; you have a lot to learn. The world, security wise, is changing rapidly. The old TIL and HUD have been usurped by a CD. Are you hoping I will define that – sorry – I will not – you are supposed to know what a CD is. OK, you aced it – but how aware are you of its components?

The problem is manifested in more than knowledge of esoteric loan package forms. It goes to the heart of being a responsible public official. The county sheriff would not be in office long if they could not recognize one of the 10 Most Wanted if they passed them on the street. Similarly, you need to keep up on changing components that affect your working environment. A good start would be to review the Current Edition of your governing regulations. Things have changed since you took your notary exam. You swore to uphold those rules, and must maintain your knowledge.

Take participation in the http://123notary.com forum. Many are the posts that offer their own opinion – believing that theirs is the only right path. Few are the posts that acknowledge that someone with a superior understanding offered the right approach to the situation. It’s an interesting exercise to explore the web sites of those self proclaimed luminaries. I have done precisely that. What I found was gushing self praise and absurd proclamations. We can be at your location in 10 minutes. We know every doorman in the city. Our notarizations are much better than any other. Blah, blah, blah.

How do you throttle back your ego? One good method is to submit to standardized testing. This site offers a few varieties, as to some others. Of course there is your state notary manual, do you understand every word. Not each sentence by rote – but each concept by its essence. Did you ever call upon your licensing authority to explain a “fuzzy” concept? Or, did you just assume “I don’t need to know that. Here in NY State notaries must view “Adequate Proof”. The term is not further defined in the Notary manual. I spoke at length to them to derive their intended meaning.

Nobody is the knows best notary. Some think they are. The ones that come close are open minded and willing to learn. The foundation is, of course, your governing laws. But, it is in the application of those parameters that we exhibit our judgment; and our “wisdom”. For your business to be viable, you need to meet your clients’ needs and desires. Sometimes creative approaches, based entirely on what is completely proper are required. Given a complex situation there are those who will claim the request illegal; usually a safe choice. But, others with a greater breadth of knowledge can derive a totally legal and possible innovative solution. It is those whose clients feel that their notary “is the best notary”.

You might also like:

Always be helpful
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=15429

Charge Nothing Get More
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=16179

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September 25, 2016

Foreign Intrigue

Foreign Intrigue

Chances are 95% of your notarizations are for use in the USA. Every now and then along comes a request to notarize a document destined to be used in a different country. Documents prepared outside of the USA present special requirements. I have processed many. They range from being in a foreign language, to ones in English. They virtually never have a useable notary section. The usual procedure is to slap on an acknowledgement, the wording taken from the state notary manual. That’s fine; it’s certainly a legal notarization. But will it fly in the destination country?

A State issued Apostille is generally added, procedures vary by state. They either issue an Apostille or a Certification; depending on the target country’s ratification status with The Hague. Is it complete? Perhaps, but often there is more work to do. China, for example requires the addition of their “tax stamp” for the document to be used in their country. That procedure entails, at the NYC location; an application form, a complete (and they do a page by page check) copy of the document. As the NY State added Apostille is affixed with a tamper resistant “grommet” it’s hard to photocopy the underlying pages. It’s best to, just prior to the Apostille step; photocopy everything – then when the Apostille is added – photocopy the top page. China offers a variety of “service levels”, same day, three day and a week; with varying fees. I have gone there to find them closed; causing my prior commitment for delivery to be thwarted; I did not know they had both US and China holidays “off”.

Another example is Brazil. They are very strict as to how the document is bound. One of my projects was over two hundred pages. I could not find a stapler with that capacity. My submission for their “tax stamp” was rejected initially. The document had to be bound, just like a book; for them to accept it. Sometimes there are genuinely nice surprises. The waiting room at the Brazilian Embassy has an urn with the most wonderful coffee, no charge. Hope you like your coffee without milk or sugar – none is available.

Other countries have their own specifications. Some want every page to have a notary stamp, bound or not. Some go a step further and require embossing on each page. At least one requires the original passport of the affiant to be shown, actually left with them till the time of pickup. Some folks just don’t like leaving me their passport for a few days; but unless they go to the Embassy, they have no choice.

One has to start with a state compliant notarization to obtain a state issued apostille. But how about the notary section on the original document? Many destinations also require their “notary section” to also be completed. This can be a real problem. I often run into this situation with European “proof of life” documents whereby pensioners must annually submit proof they are still alive. This is a bit of a dilemma. For the German authorities to accept it – their “notary section” must also be completed. But, I am not fluent in that language. It’s quite a leap of faith to sign on a line, when the above text; and the writing under the line are in German! Am I declaring that I am an attorney? Or worse? Scanning the document and using translation software is one approach. Or, an impartial translator; but not the affiant!

There are 190+ sovereign countries in the world. I have been handed what the affiant purported to be a Latvian divorce application and asked if the form met all requirements for use in Latvia! Clearly way above my pay grade. The key point is to document your responsibilities, in writing; clearly stating that you are unable to guarantee suitability for purpose. Also, clearly state what you are able to do. Refer them to legal services where the document is destined to be used. Don’t assume, don’t guess. Either have your client explicitly state your duties, in an email; or offer to research, for a fee; what is needed.

You might also like:

Notarizing your foreign language document
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2768

Registering with consulates
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=10361

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September 20, 2016

Their Signature

Their Signature

Let’s use, as a working definition of Their Signature; “somebody’s name written by him or her in a characteristic way”. Long ago, about a decade, I was often asked to provide “legible” signatures that matched the name signing. I tried that a few times, mostly with dismal failure. More often than not, the signature was totally illegible – more like artwork than written script handwriting.

Now let’s go back a lot further in the past, about two thousand years. Commercial transactions were common then as they are now. Most did not read or write, they made their mark. It was the seal of the Notary, who knew the affiant that validated the “mark”. Nothing has really changed. It is still the Notary who is supporting the validity of the signature.

They can sign many ways, with a pen, with a brush (artsy?), using their hands, feet, knees or mouth to hold the instrument of signing. Keep in mind the Americans with Disabilities Act. We must make reasonable accommodation to all who qualify for our seal. The signature does not have to be the same as, or even similar to the one on their ie: driver license. A lost limb or even both arms does not preclude notarization. Pen held in mouth is fine, the signature will be vastly different – but that really does not matter. Many elderly people have hands that shake, but their minds remain crystal clear.

Their “signature”, however written is the second aspect of accepting the Notary Oath. The first part is communicating a “yes” to the Oath; the signature is the written agreement. As mentioned – often the signature does not match the ID. Of course the picture must. There is one signature that (at least in NY State) must match – and that one is mine. My signature is recorded with the county clerk and for it to be authenticated; my signature on the document must be the same as my officially recorded one. Thus my signature cannot change.

To me what really counts is their printed name somewhere to indicate exactly who is being notarized. If it’s in my “loose ack” – I get to print the name. Sometimes it’s not that clear on the document, that is when I ask them to print their name under their signature. Notaries must take care to delimit their notarization to those actually given the oath and ID checked. When there are “other” places for signature, I often add “by affiant name” to the “sworn to and subscribed”.

Signatures vary greatly. I have seen perfectly formed cursive handwriting, squiggles and minor works of art with flourishes. Many bear no relation whatsoever to the name. Sometimes the same thing is on the ID, sometimes not. It’s my job to determine who they are, not to critique how they write their name. It would be so much more “absolute” if a DNA sample were to be added. Some think a thumbprint would be best; but not everyone has a thumb.

So, I am not a handwriting nanny. When the instructions mandate “clearly written” I tell the affiant what they “require” – and accept what they do. Usually I ask for their routine, standard signature “the way you would sign a check”. In my experience people object to being told “how to sign”. The signature, stamp and seal of the Notary makes whatever it is “Kosher”.

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September 18, 2016

He, She, or They?

He She or They

Jeremy and others have often mentioned the “requirement” (in quotes because the laws regarding this issue probably vary by state) to cross out the irrelevant sections in a notary section. They reason that the notary is responsible to redact entries that do not “match” the person being notarized. I disagree.

In the thousands of notary sections that have my signature and seal, over a decade of doing this; not a single one has had the redactions. Not one. And, I have never been “called to task” for not completing the section properly. There is no mention in New York State law requiring such action. The model for the Acknowledgement that I use has both “he she they” and “his her their”; and is taken directly from the handbook for NY notaries. My Jurat is even simpler: Sworn to and subscribed before me by _____.

Long before “gender identity” was a news topic I concluded that I was not the person to determine the gender of affiants. If I am not the one, who is? Well, the best answer is probably the affiant. However, some may consider a medical doctor more appropriate. It could also be a Judge. I do not see it as my function, in MY statement, to declare the gender of the affiant. Now the gender identity issue has become a hot topic in the media. To me it’s a personal issue, one for the affiant to declare or not declare as they see fit. Whatever gender identity THEY say, outside of the notary section; is fine with me.

My sharp eyed critics, and they are legion; will have noticed I included “they and their” as items that I do not redact. They are thinking “surely you should delimit the notary section to one individual when multiple names are not being notarized”. Perhaps, but I offer two defenses to leaving it as is. First, the sole name, when there is only one affiant signing, is clearly entered in the notarization. Secondly, and admittedly this is a bit of a “reach” – the affiant might identify as being of dual identity. One ID, but they consider themselves two persons. Possibly one gender sometimes, different other times. Technically it’s proper for me to enter two names in the notary section when only one person is before me and taking the oath. This comes directly from the NY County Clerk office. If the affiant has two passports with a different name on each document – they have “proved” both names and “they” have the option of having each name entered on the notary section.

With the rampant rise of identity theft and similar crimes; the role of the notary has become more, not less, important in commerce. More important yes, but not of greater scope in our basic function. Many are the “notary signature only” documents I have seen included with the packages. Fortunately for me it is illegal in NY as a notary; to make statements of fact. The most common being for me to state that I have determined the identity of the affiant(s) to an absolute certainty. The State standard is to view “adequate proof” – not absolute proof. These statements by the notary will only admit you to the litigation chain if, in fact, you were conned by a good looking forgery of the ID.

But, let’s get back to the gender issue. A person is a person, nobody will refute that. We notarize people, they come in a wide variety – and it’s our job to accommodate all of them; within the bounds of our respective state codes. I leave my notarizations “open” to be all inclusive. It’s for others to decide issues of gender. It’s so easy to make false assumptions. I have asked the Sister of the affiant to sign on the Spouse line. Ouch, that was awkward for a moment. Clearly including the name, as taken from the ID is what works for me. Of course care should be taken to not provide an “open ended” notarization to which some additional name(s) can be added at a later date. As the County Clerk told me: “You notarize the name as on the ID, nothing else”. Thus, I make no determination as to he, she, or they, and leave the form alone.

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September 13, 2016

The Self Nanny-ing Notary

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — Tags: , , , — admin @ 11:24 am

The Self Nanny-ing Notary

We all hate to be micro-managed by others. But, we really do micro-manage ourselves. We make thousands of little decisions every day. That decision making does not trouble us; it’s a natural part of our daily lives. It’s the intrusive and disruptive that we perceive as being obnoxious. Well, there is a good lesson to be learned from those “newbie” shops that recruit fledgling notaries. They, if one is open to learning from them; provide an excellent tutorial on notary/client communications. That’s an area many of us have room for improvement.

In addition to the baseline of providing a perfectly executed set of documents, you will be judged by your attention to communications. This is one area when “too much” is way better than “to little”. Some examples: I have confirmed the date, time and location with the affiant. I received the documents via email. I printed two sets, some went to letter size, and some went to legal. I have the airbill. I am leaving for the assignment (tells them that you can no longer receive an updated document). I have arrived and am with the affiant. We have completed signing. I am taking the package to the shipper. The package has been scanned and is trackable. I am sending you my W9 and Invoice. Thank you for selecting me, I appreciate your business.

All of that, every time? Of course not – but, as those are typical of the nanny shops; they show information that is meaningful to your employer. If you have a reputation, have done many jobs for them, perhaps only 2 or 3 of the above are necessary. But, if you wish to make a great start with a new client; keeping them informed is really the right thing to do. Not sure if they want a minute by minute email – ask them; let them tell you the level of communications wanted.

Most, but not all, of the example I routinely do. It’s easy with a properly set up cell phone’s email software. Result? Many comment that they like the communications. Keep in mind that even though we receive a modest fee; others are depending on us to earn their substantially larger commissions. And, they do want to know that things are proceeding smoothly. Your updates let them know that no problems have developed; otherwise you would have mentioned them. As mentioned, ask if they would prefer frequent progress updates, or just the final “signed & shipped”.

Today I had a client frantic about a package that had not been delivered on time. Fortunately, it is my custom to either scan or cell camera photograph the drop off receipt and email that with my “signed and shipped” statement. Of course when they supply the airbill they have access to the drop off location and time. However, my email with the client name (the initial “work order” that they sent to me) and the drop off image makes it much easier for them. That email from me ties the client name to a tracking number. It also puts me “out of the loop” at I can prove the drop off was punctual in relation to the signing completion time.

While I don’t permit others to micro-manage me with frequent calls, I have no problem providing very frequent status updates via email. Incoming calls are intrusive, they busy my line; possibly costing me a new assignment. Sending updates via email, short and to the point is the way to go.

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