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January 15, 2018

The Notary / Bear Trap

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — admin @ 8:42 am

The Notary / Bear Trap
All of us know what rolls downhill. The trick in our business is to, as in tennis, smack that turd back from whence it came. In this rant I will cover some stuff that came rolling down the hill toward me, and how, like the post office is fond of stamping: I “Return to Sender”. This intro paragraph should placate our oft times confused leader who wants the essence of the article to appear “up front”.

I’m not giving away any confidential information when I reveal the location of an assignment I just received. It’s 620 8th Ave. in Manhattan. Butt (head of Title person?), errrr – but – that is a 50 story office building with many hundreds of tenants; and all they gave me was the address, no company name. They did provide a borrower contact number – left a few messages – no return call. That which rolls downhill does help to create the pretty flowers; my fee has been PayPal “up front”. I did email Title my situation, perhaps they will answer, probably not. What’s a notary to do? Their best. So, at the appointed time I will go to this massive structure and ask at the security desk for the borrower by name. If that don’t work, I again call Title and tell them “I tried”.

Another job scheduled for the middle of next week, did not provide a contact number. So, I email requesting it. They reply with an out of country cell number. That I will not call. I got burned on that issue last month. It’s so very easy on my Android (much better than Apple – oops I feel the flaming comments scorching my tail feathers already) to just press the number shown in the incoming email. We spoke about ten minutes, it added 36$ to my cell bill. I emailed the person who I helped with an image of the charge – aint heard from them since; probably never will.
It’s been several months ago that I last mentioned getting prepaid, I prefer PayPal. But, someone wanted to use an alternative “similar” system. I found that I would receive a payment notification but that the actual payment “might” be made at a later date. Or, perhaps never. A quick search for “PayPal Alternatives” shows quite a list – one that I do not wish to explore. If you are requiring payment in advance – be sure that it actually is “in your account” in advance.

Call an auto body shop, ask them for detailed instructions; the real nitty gritty about how to repaint a fender. Tell them you want exactly what products to use, and the proper technique to apply the various applications. Hmmm, you got a dial tone? That’s because they are not in the educational business; neither am I. The caller wants details about the procedure to process their College Degree for use in the UAE. It’s complex, many details; perhaps translation is also required. If I have the assignment I will research and find the details; to earn my fee. But, to “take a guess” without research, might make me the defendant in court. E&O don’t cover that.
Polonius said it best: This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man. My expression is to be “of good heart” – do you feel the deal is fair and that you are doing the best job legally possible? That’s the starting point. Now, just require the same from your business partners. When you feel they are “rolling a bit downhill” in your direction – call them out for it and insist they too do their best. Last I heard it’s the seller (you) who defines the deal. Defend yourself or wind up in a pile of downhill roll.

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December 21, 2017

The Automatic Repayment Form

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — admin @ 8:28 am

The Automatic Repayment Form
Many packages have this form. You have seen it dozens of times. It’s the one where the borrower is to enter their account information for automatic deduction monthly. IMHO there is only one field that must be completed: the signature of the borrower, and the date signed. Heads up reader; further down the page I will prove to you that, even though you write not a word on this form; you have been processing it “against the law” – honest.

Some borrowers hail this as a great convenience; others don’t like an “auto dip” into their account for any reason. Generally, and I have never seen one to the contrary, this is optional. In other words I have never seen acceptance of this arrangement as required for the loan to process. However, completion and acceptance “sometimes” is tied in with a deduction of cost to the borrower; therefore they should consider the option seriously.

In my experience, often the borrower does not have the “voided check or deposit slip” with them when we meet at a Starbucks; but still want the optional feature. Some technically savvy folks have all the information in their phone, others call a spouse. It’s not mandatory “at the table”, the information can be supplied at a later date to Title, LO, or bank.

Now to make good on my “against the law” issue. The pros who take the time to read blog entries to find a few grains of useful information are my audience. As a pro you are aware that if the borrower copy contains a Right to Cancel – the RTC in the borrower copy (in addition to the set returned) also needs to be completed. You do do that, right? Well, now I have in front of me a “Comical Bank – Automatic Transfer Services” form. At the very bottom it has “As required under Reg E, please provide a copy of the completed form to the customer”. Not having a copier with me I assume the borrower copy must be completed to meet that obscure requirement.

Then there are the “I don’t wanna” people. I stand with them – I just don’t like the autopay concept. The way I handle them is to request the sign and date – that proves that I did offer them the form. And also suggest to them (gasp! Is this legal advice?) that they write in big block letters the word DECLINE somewhere next to their signature. The “don’t want it” borrowers have not objected to this procedure when I explain my need to prove that the form was tendered.

If they want the feature – try to get, if possible the “fill in” information. Otherwise you are bouncing back to your employer the need to contact the borrower to complete the package. That is what they are paying you to do. Of course you remain neutral on the wisdom of accepting – your job is to offer the opportunity to “sign up”, not to pan it or to be an advocate. If the info is not available, a Post-It on the form with “Info not available at the table” is the best you can do.
The bank really really wants these automatic transfers; it saves them time and money. That is why they sometimes shave the interest rate or other cost – a clear benefit to the borrower. If you spot a financial incentive it’s worth mentioning to the borrower. That’s giving information the borrower can use to make their decision; again – present factually and impartially. It’s not a complex form. Doing your best to have it completed according to the borrower wishes is the goal.

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December 13, 2017

My Reply to Vague Incoming Email

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — admin @ 8:23 am

My Reply to Vague Incoming Email
We receive email that is vague, but asks for specific commitment on our part. Some examples:

How much is a notary? Can you notarize my document? My boss wants to know how soon you can be here to notarize some stuff? Where are you located? Do you charge a fee for your services? What are your office hours? Can you open a few hours early, I can only be at your place at 7AM?

I used to waste time typing an answer to these generally unsigned, no phone number spam-like emails. Then I decided to reply with a canned “macro”. On the PC I use keyboardexpress, on the cell phone (Android) my Profimail email program has a similar facility. This is my reply:

Thank you for your inquiry.
I am a Mobile Notary and go to the location you specify; I do not have a walk in facility.
My fee is based on:
1. How many signatures are to be notarized.
2. Where I would be going to do the notarizations.
3. The date & time of day you wish me to arrive.
Please also include your phone number and the nature or title of what is to be notarized.
As soon as I know the 3 items above I will be able to send you a price quote.
If some aspects are not available I can make an estimate based on information provided.
I need your assurance that the person(s) to be notarized:
1. Have government issued photo ID (typically a driver license, non-driver ID, or passport (any country).
2. The name on the ID matches the name on the document to be notarized.
3. Is able to speak directly with me in the English language.
4. Is not impaired in their ability to sign and understand the document they are signing.
5. Have reviewed the document(s) and desire to sign them.
6. Will be available to meet with me when I arrive.
Note that not every document can be notarized, let me know if your requirements include:
A Will, Birth, Death, Marriage, Divorce or Education related documents

Further information is available about me on my web site. Specifically:
My A+ Better Business Bureau Accreditation via hot link bottom left my home page – directly to BBB.
My 500+ positive reviews on 123notary.com (the Reviews link, in my signature, goes there).
You will also find a large amount of useful information (not sales hype) on the topics of:

Notarization
Apostille Processing
Embassy Legalization
Obtaining Birth, Death, Marriage and other official documents.
Fingerprinting Services
PayPal: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=LVZJXNQQB2LV8
Web: http://kenneth-a-edelstein.com

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October 24, 2017

More Notary Questions from Ken

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — admin @ 12:36 am

You realize at the shipping depot that you forgot to double check the loan package. Upon inspection you notice that the borrower did not initial the signed signature page of the Note.

1. You make a copy of the page, email it to the borrower, requesting they initial it and FAX it to your employer, then you ship.
2. Knowing you will miss the drop off, you return to the borrower for the missing initials, and ship the next day, happy that the package is now complete.
3. Initials are not required on signed pages, so you ship with a post-it at the top of the package noting the missing initials.
4. You add the missing initials with a different color pen so they will know it was a notary correction then ship.

You are in Kansas and the property is in Montana. You have been directed to make no changes whatsoever to the docs. How do you notarize the Mortgage (State of Montana. County of Snow).

1. Leave the Venue as is, following directions to the letter, notarize directly on the Mortgage without any changes
2. Change the Venue to where the notarization takes place, crossing out the values and initialing the changes
3. Attach a new notarization to the Mortgage, ignoring the notary section that was preprinted.
4. Call the Title Company and do whatever they tell you to do.

The airbill appears fuzzy, you only have access to a dropbox, you were directed to make sure it is shipped same day.
1. It’s their airbill, use it and drop in the box.
2. Nobody answers (Signing Service, Title Co., etc.) so leave message and hold for instructions
3. Scan and email entire package to every email address involved and wait for instructions
4. Leave messages, scan & email & ship

Loan Officer sends you an email authorizing backdating the notarization to yesterday to preserve the borrower rate lock
1. Accommodate the request as you have proof that it was authorized
2. Ignore the backdate request and proceed using today’s date
3. Return (dump) the job
4. Let the borrower choose what date is to be used

Borrower signed in your place in the notary section
1. Start over using the appropriate page from the borrower copy
2. Strike and initial the error (notary & borrower initial) and sign nearby
3. Reversals are acceptable, you sign where the borrower normally signs
4. Strike and initial the error (only notary initials the strike) and sign nearby

You are 5 miles from borrower and freezing rain starts to accumulate; you gave your assurance this would be completed on time
1. You proceed to the borrower driving slowly and carefully
2. You call everyone to tell them you are dumping the job and heading home
3. Drive normally to borrower so you will not be late
4. You call borrower and tell them to meet by your house

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October 15, 2017

BLOG: Ken’s list of things Notaries goof (or might goof on.)

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — admin @ 12:35 am

Most Notaries don’t make this type of mistake. Perhaps it is mostly very new Notaries or those who are just clueless. But, read this list and learn about what other Notaries do wrong and hope that you do not make the same mistake.

1. Wrong venue
2. Cut off commission end year on cheapskate notary stamp and missed filling it in
3. Unreadable notary stamp / covers preprinted text
4. Missed a sig line (in the middle of the page)
5. Allowed borrower copy (that they already had) to mix pages with live docs
6. Did not notice that some more pages printed (they were complex) and thought was working with complete set. But some still in printer output tray.
7. Email had 17 PDFs and did not keep track / printed one twice and another not at all
8. Accepted sloppy scan of airbill which would not scan at fedex/ups so arrived a day or 2 late.
9. Did not verify address with borrower, delay causes missed drop off time
10. Wrote name in notary section from anywhere other than looking at the ID / or did not change to match ID
11. Accepted photocopy of ID as ID
12. Shipped unprocessed borrower copy
13. Fed embossed end into fax first causing jam/ripped pages
14. Permitted distractions during signing – loud TV, noisey kids, dogs, etc
15. Worked in poorly lit area
16. Did not print & bring a borrower copy (just made a CD) thus cannot swap error pages
17. Opened “big mouth” and spoke about politics, religion, “smell in the air”, keep it to job at hand.
18. 2 jobs back to back, wrong docs with airbill (both jobs screwed)
19. Make commitment to complete that is impossible (not allow for traffic, distance) – job should go to closer notary.
20. Did not follow local notary law TO THE LETTER – allowing a fool to tell notary that it must meet notary standards where the property is located.
21. Idiot notary printed double sided, last page of Note shares first page of Mortgage.
22. Ran out of paper (oops no more legal) or toner – Really???
23. One name on work order, hubbie and wifie on docs – did not verify both would be available with proper ID
24. Did a “stamp and sign ONLY” without venue or notary wording or date. (when there is no notary section but it needs to be notarized)

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October 10, 2017

RTC Question created by Ken

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — admin @ 12:29 am

At the end of the package the borrower asks where the 3 day RTC form is. It’s not in the package. They insist that it should be there. You cannot reach anyone by phone.

1. You allow the borrower to hand write their RTC form and you notarize it.
2. Fortunately you have a different loan package with a RTC form with you. You duplicate it and change all entries to match the current loan.
3. You find the loan on the table is for vacation property, you don’t count Saturday when the missing form (via either 1. Or 2. Above) is created.
4. You find the loan on the table is for investment property, thus the RTC is not applicable.

Jeremy’s comments.
I have not signed loans in 12 years and when I did they were mostly refinances. However, not all loans are refinances and the rules of refinances do not apply to all loans. An owner occupied non-investment loan for a refinances gets a three day right to rescind. Investments or commercial loans might not get this privelege.

These days most packages are consolidations, purchases, Helocs, Shelocs, modifications, etc. Refinances are not as common due to the fact that interest rates have not been going down.

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October 8, 2017

BLOG: which statement is a true statement

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — Tags: , , — admin @ 12:25 am

Here is a situation that Ken Edelstein created for our learning purposes. I am crediting this blog to Ken as he created the content for the question which I really liked.

Both borrowers signed and initialed (correctly in all the right places) all the pages of a 258 page double refinance package; prior to your arrival. Which of the following statements is true.

1. They legally must resign all signaures as you did not witness any of them.
2. Only the Acknolwedgments must be resigned as they include the wording, “subscribed before me.”
3. The Title company notary must do the notarizations as they are the only entities authorized to notarize unwitnessed signatures.
4. Only the Jurats need to be resigned (legally, putting aside Lender preferences.)

This is an interesting question Ken brought up because many Notaries confuse the law with Lender preferences. Most Notaries go through life with the mentality that:

I have to do this and I have to do that.
Jeremy’s comments — yeah, right.

You can ALWAYS oversign…
Jeremy’s comments — what does that mean. Does that mean you can sign more than what is on the typed name in the document or the typed name in the ID. The Lender might not mind oversigning, but you might be in court later on as a witness to identity fraud.

The documents must be signed exactly the way the typed name reads below the signature line.
Jeremy’s comments — once again that is what the Lender wants which is not always legal. You have to please the law, the lender, common sense, and proceed in such a way that you will not end up in court. Taking thumbprints in your journal is the most efficient way to deter identity fraud and catch the perpitrators the fastest as well.

You have to witness all signatures.
Jeremy’s comments. The law says you have to witness signatures for documents receiving a Jurat notarization as it says, “Subscribed and sworn to BEFORE ME.” However, the Acknowledgments in the majority of states do not have a “before me” clause. The Lender might want you to witness, but look up in your handbook to see what the law of the land says otherwise you could create a mess.

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October 5, 2017

Life at the bottom of the food chain

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

Life at the Bottom of the Food Chain
Before we consider the “bottom dwellers” let’s consider the lofty top of the food chain. Some animals have virtually no known predators; nothing “hunts” for them. Some great examples are the Alligator and Crocodile. Consider the big cats, Lion and Tiger. When these animals are in their “prime” – no worries for them. Only the human is a threat; and then only with guns. They are supreme in their environment until very old, or when they are very young. It’s nice to be on top; basically you don’t get eaten, you eat “lesser” forms of life.

Notaries dwell at the bottom of the document processing food chain. You put more effort into a package than the LO. But, it’s the LO who gets the big rewards. The same is true to a lesser degree for the middle of the chain entities. They, Title, Escrow, Bank, SSS (Sleazy Signing Service) and others feed off of the work of the lowly notary (lower case used due to status).

We create with our signature, stamp and seal the only “legal” (admissible in Court without the signatory present) documents. Nobody else has that authority. So why is it that they receive, a “piece of the action” – a percentage of the transaction; and we do not? Have you noticed that some of the paperwork passing thru your hands has seven figure amounts; yet your fee peaks at just barely three figures or even two?

You must do this, you must do that, you must sign an absurd document notarizing your own statement. We will decide when and even if we choose to belatedly throw you some crumbs for your efforts. What don’t you understand? You are required to sit, beg, and rollover on command.

We want the notaries we hire to be absolutely clear that we consider their time worthless. You are expected to wait, wait and wait till we snap our fingers. As an aside I used to play a similar game with my Beagle. I would put a dog yummy on the tip of his nose. He looked somewhat cross eyed at the treat, waiting till I snapped my fingers. Then Nipper would quickly open his snout, flipping the treat upward; followed by catching the yummie in his jaws. Nipper had a sure thing, he always got the treat; unlike many notaries who snap their jaws shut on empty air; after a lengthy wait. That wait being for doc or their pay, or affiants “in conference” when they arrive.

Feeding time at the Gator farm. They throw a (thankfully dead) chicken into the moat. The Gators race to see who is first to consume the usually small bird. That kinda sounds like the Tweet (Pavlov used a bell to make dogs salivate) sent to dozens of notaries, vying for a tiny fee. The first to respond is committed to an assignment based on virtually non-existent info. How slick is that for them? Do I hear someone singing “fools rush in where wise men fear to go”?

It’s really a matter of respect. We all accept the fact that “most” of our employers have little regard for us; that is a given. What is disturbing to me is that many, strike that, most notaries do not appear to respect themselves. Why else would they subjugate themselves to bottom of the food chain treatment? We don’t have a Union, there is no “price fixing” (on our side of the fence) and the “National Organizations” suggest we accept poverty as our standard of living. If there is ever to be positive change – each individual must reject exploitation both in pay and in treatment. Aint nobody gonna look out for you – your gonna hafta look out for yourself.

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October 3, 2017

Notary Maintenance

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — admin @ 12:16 am

Notary Maintenance
I nominate my “Pet Rock” as the most perfect device never invented. Without any maintenance, patches, updates, or ongoing costs it really informs. When I can’t see it, it’s letting me know it is night. When it’s wet I know rain is falling, etc. You are probably thinking “This time Ken really lost it – he’s just plain nuts”. Perhaps.
Unlike my happy to be left alone Pet Rock, as Notaries we have LOTS to maintain. Some are so routine (and usually done) they are not worth detailed comment: car maintenance, inking/cleaning notary stamp, personal grooming, record keeping; are just a few that I assume we all remember to do.

Notary Law – do you regularly download and carefully read your jurisdictions regulations? They DO change from time to time. Here in New York there is a test to obtain a commission, based on Notary Law. At the very least NY Notaries read the rules, if only to pass the test. It’s not just common knowledge, for example it is not permitted to notarize a Civil Deposition on a Sunday in NY State. Make it a point to download, print, and slowly read your current regulations – at least twice a year.
Personal Health – I’ve mentioned this from time to time. It’s worth repeating. Many of us have a fast food diet. One that is rich is fats, sugar, grease, and similar junk. When is the last time you had an apple? How about a meal with lots of vegetables, not just the decorative broccoli served with that Sesame Chicken? We are blessed with amazing medical advances; does your car receive an annual inspection but your body does not? Include some “good for the soul” events. A trip to the Museum, a picnic, fly a kite; take time to enjoy life.

The Web – Some of us have web sites; virtually everyone reading this has a profile with notes on 123notary.com. Is the information up to date? Even if it is – is it “working” for you? Perhaps a rewrite is due. I consider “social media” the leading waste of time ever invented. But, I am well aware that many use these tools to great advantage in securing additional business. If they work for you – great – but, is the information about you current? Perhaps it’s a good idea to review and refine “everything” that represents you on the web.

Advertising – Your competition is doing it, some make a major effort to be “first on Google” (that’s usually very expensive). For me the ideal (and very cost effective) technique is the humble business card. I order 5,000 at a time from Vista Print. When you specify their slowest service, the price drops dramatically. Having thousands to give away means that I actually can. When I go to a doorman building a few to the doorman works wonders. A trip to the local shopping center – giving a few cards to the office is time well spent. Doctor offices too.
Your Notary Kit – Review your kit, are there areas for improvement? Having just one notary stamp is a “single point of failure” that can put you “off line” waiting for a replacement. Some forms have just a tiny space, do you have stamps in multiple sizes. A very fine point pen (I like the Pilot Precise V5 RT) can help when the affiant name is long and the space for it is short. Automate repetitive tasks. I am located in New York (which is both the state and the county). I have a “New York” self inking stamp, just right for those Venue entries; perhaps you will need separate State and County stamps – it’s worth the cost and looks great on the documents.

Your Reputation – Yup, you will actually have to work at maintaining your good reputation. A great start is by obtaining lots of positive reviews. They will counterbalance the inevitable that will be (unfairly) dumped on your reputation. Take a look your reviews on the various rating sites: 123notary, Yelp, Google, etc. Your reviews and reputation soars when you do more than is expected. I’m hired by a law firm to print and bring an affidavit to their client. I print 3 copies, 2 are returned to the law firm; one fully notarized is left with the affiant. Reputation “stars” received for doing more than required; it just takes a tiny bit more effort on my part.

Perhaps I was wrong about my Pet Rock. I’ve been listening to it and now it’s starting to make demands. It wants me to find it a mate! I thought it would be “low maintenance” and passive. But it seems to know that I am writing about it and it wants compensation for using its identity. It’s threatening to sue; gotta go I’m calling my lawyer. I blame my mental state, and the “Pet Rock Uprising” on Jeremy – all bad things can be traced to him.

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October 1, 2017

Notary also as a witness

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — admin @ 12:15 am

Notary as Also a Witness
Despite the popular expression, this Old Dog is learning new tricks. But first, a little background as to how I “used to” handle this issue. When I am able to review in advance the docs (edoc) I always would scan to see if there was a witness requirement. If so, I would ask the entity that assigned the job to me if there really was a requirement for one or more witnesses. Often the response was that x state did not require them and to just ignore that area. Other times I am told there indeed needs to be two witnesses and that I am permitted to be one of them.

I looked up this issue on NNA – https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2014/12/can-notary-serve-as-witness and the issue becomes a bit murky (at least to me). It seems that some states allow the notary to also be a witness but at least one (probably more) do not. I must assume the directives I receive from “higher up” take the local requirements (where the document will be used) into consideration. Now I’m not so sure that I should be taking “advice” from them.

I’m firmly of the belief that a document must “stand by itself”. Here in NY we have a prohibition against notaries notarizing the signature of the person who the will is for. I have had attorneys tell me they will be “on the other end of the phone – supervising the process”. But, many years from now, it’s only the Will itself in the courtroom. There is no record of the lawyer involvement. Thus I do not notarize any Wills.
The document currently under consideration is a Durable Power of Attorney. I have been asked by the private party client to be one of the witnesses. I replied:

The major gifts rider calls for 2 witnesses.
As the appropriateness of the notary also being one of the witnesses varies with the jurisdiction when the document is being used:
I decline to be one of the witnesses.
I suggest persons without any possible financial interest be selected for this function.

This issue is similar to the black vs blue ink issue. NY State mandates all notary signatures to be in black ink. However some counties in Florida require all signatures to be in blue ink. What to do? Well, blue will allow the deed/mortgage to be filed; black will comply with my license law. No, I’m not going to, on this issue say what I do; but I do consider that it’s pointless to partake in a notarization with rejection a great possibility.

Back to the Notary as also a witness. The POA before me can be used anywhere; I certainly don’t know where it will be used. Thus I decline to be both a Notary and a Witness on the same document. I know this creates a greater burden on the client. But, consider what might befall the Notary. If the POA is rejected, I might become the defendant in litigation where money was lost due to the “there” conclusion of improper processing. Would my E&O cover that? I don’t want to find out.
I doubt the wrath of State Department will land on me for using a very dark “blue” pen. I have often spoken to other NY notaries and many use blue ink so it “stands out” and does not appear to be a photocopy! That might have been a justification prior to the widespread use of color copiers. Also, signing as a Witness, with the greater possibility of complete rejection seems a greater risk.

Now my path is going to be the safest one. I will no longer sign anything as both a Witness and Notary. Sure, I will probably lose an assignment or perhaps a few. It’s a risk vs reward issue. The reward is a routine notary fee; the risk is a summons that might incorporate a rather high dollar exposure. By analogy from my flight training instructor: There are Old Pilots, and there are Bold Pilots. However, there are no Old Bold Pilots.

Wondering if I’m just “Chicken”? I leave a trail of feathers behind me wherever I go.

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