The ultimate recipient of a document is the most authoritative person regarding the issue of document acceptability. Often the UR is the last person to receive the notarized document. Why bring this up? You might want to add the term UR to your notary lexicon. The remainder of this installment will discuss why, and a few examples will be used to illustrate the value of UR.
I wish I had a buck for every time I have spoken: “I do not have either the authority or the knowledge to answer your question”. The public generally has IMHO a high regard for notaries. The use of oath, rubber stamp and embosser presents a positive image. We have the “keys” to making (in their minds) something “official”. And, that’s not far from the truth. A notarized sworn (oops a redundancy) statement is generally admissible as evidence in a court of law without the affiant being present. Your jurisdiction rules may vary from my generality.
So, with our authoritative image, many view us as lawyers, albeit “junior grade”. Of course the primary sin of “playing lawyer” is something we all know to avoid. But, when the client is asking a “reasonable” (to them) question; how best to answer when: A) you don’t know and/or B) you are not permitted to answer. This installment of my scribbles will focus on frequently asked question: “Will this do what I want?”.
In many respects it’s a difficult, perhaps silly question. Generally, we don’t read the document that is to be notarized. Thus, we do not know its content; nor the desired results. It is certain that we do not know the ultimate recipient who will pass judgment on acceptability for purpose.
When I receive these questions I refer them to contacting the UR, making sure to explicitly define the UR. Often the document will go to a preliminary person. Case in point: One of my Apostille clients asked: “Will this deed allow the sale of my property in New South Wales?” It was good that they knew an Apostille would probably be required for use of a USA notarized document in NSW. But, I am being asked to pass judgment on the content! That’s clearly “playing lawyer”, a big no no. So, a bit of “education” is called for with a bit of advice.
In this case the NY attorney created a standard deed. It would have been fine in NY. But, NSW has different required verbiage. Advising my client to “ask your attorney” is not, IMHO the right answer – though it certainly is both safe and valid. Better is to discuss the concept of the UR. ONLY that person makes the accept / reject decision. I did not offer to do the research, but advised my client to find the UR, be it a Judge or their equivalent of our County Clerk.
Once the UR is located, FAX a copy of the document to them, and follow up with a phone call. Do not discuss a document you are holding that they cannot see. Honor their time, make it easy for the UR to work with you. My client followed my suggestions. Regrettably, the NY attorney created document, and its related Apostille were useless. This time the client was not at fault; their attorney should have prepared a NSW formatted document.
My client paid again for Apostille Processing; but, was delighted with the situation. Much time would have been lost had the improper document been shipped to NSW. By explaining that no one other than the UR can give the definitive yes/no decision – I now have a very loyal client.>