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October 19, 2017

10 risks to being a Mobile Notary Public.

Filed under: Notary Mistakes — admin @ 12:59 am

Notarize at your own risk. Being a Notary is NOT safe!

Many of you think that being a Notary is an easy way to make a few extra bucks. Stamp a piece of paper, get $10, easy, right? Then you deal with nitpicky signing companies who make you fax things back and you get mad, right? That is an annoyance, but not the bigger problem. Being a Notary is dangerous, particular when you don’t do your job correctly. Most Notaries feel that you look at an ID and if it is close enough and the photo looks like the guy, that you are doing your job, right? Sort of. Here are some itemized risks to being a Notary Public.

1. Hoarders
If you go to someone’s house and they have things stacked to the ceiling, you might be in danger in their house. The signer doesn’t want to hurt you. It is just that they cannot control their psychological disease that causes them to engage in hoarding. My housemate is like this and she has stuff stacked to the ceiling which is dangerous and a fire hazard. Something could fall on you or you could get trapped in a fire.

2. Bio-hazards
Some homes that are not cleaned properly are dangerous. One house Carmen almost went into had some bacterial infection that would have gone straight to her lungs and caused her to go to the hospital. If a house smells funny, maybe you are not safe in there. If it is not ventillated properly, perhaps you should stay away. Poor hygene can be deadly, so be advised.

3. Dogs
Some neighborhoods have unsafe dogs around. Notaries could be harrassed or bitten by dogs. Carrying pepper spray or mace is not a bad idea.

4. Slummy neighbors
You might go to a signing in a bad area and people nearby might be hanging out who look unsavory. I am not sure if this is dangerous, but some people get upset.

5. Angry borrowers.
One Notary got pushed off a flight of stairs and broke her wrist. The borrower didn’t like his APR and I guess the Notary didn’t educate themself on how to give a professional explanation of the APR either. The borrower ended up in jail very quickly and the Notary healed in two months.

6. FBI and lawsuits
Roughly 2% of full-time Notaries will end up in court or with an FBI investigation for being involved with identity theft. If you do not keep a thorough journal with thumbprints and the right amount of journal entries, you are much more likely to be held in court as a witness, suspect, or cause yourself extended grief. Without a thumbprint, the investigators are often helpless to catch really really bad people. So, help them out and keep thumbprints. Do your part to safeguard mankind.

7. Getting sued by a borrower
One borrower got mad and sued the Lender, Title company and the Notary when the Notary had done nothing wrong. The Notary tried to use their E&O insurance, but the company wouldn’t pay out because the Notary had not made any error or omission. Of all the bad luck. So, the Notary lost $30,000 in legal fees. Talk about bad karma.

8. Getting sued by the bar association
If you life in an Attorney state and do loan signings without a law license, the bar association might come after you. Good grief.

9. Jeremy might phone quiz you.
Many Notaries who thought they had it together got a phone call from the infamous Jeremy (that’s me) and failed an over the phone quiz. They rationalized, “I’ve been doing this 30 years and therefore I know what I’m doing.” My rationalization is, “Not if you got 18% on my quiz which consists of very easy and every day notary questions.” You might not lose any money, but you could lose your dignity if you score less than 70%. So, study up!

10. Your seal could be stolen
It happened to me. I had to write to the Secretary of State. My car was broken into and I lost my seal, embosser and journal. What a tragedy. It took me two and a half weeks to be back in business. Think of all the money I lost not to mention the trauma of being robbed of my most prized possession — my inkless embosser that I used as a secondary seal to deter fraud! Boo-hoo.

There is also the risk of traffic accidents and having one of those talking GPS systems that talks back to you when you get in the wrong lane, but I won’t include details of those problems as they are common to all humans who drive and not just to Notaries. The end!

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October 18, 2017

An identity fraud case in Florida with 13 defendants: 10 minutes w/a judge

Filed under: Technical & Legal — admin @ 12:54 am

This case made the news and was going to be a Federal Case. There were 13 defendants named in this identity fraud case. The Notary had to spend a week filing out paperwork for court. Then she appeared before the judge in his private chamber. The judge spent ten minutes looking at the journal and filled out some forms and said, “Case dismissed.” The Notary did not have to go to court for a month or appear a second time. It was her journal that saved her butt.

The main defendant added a second name to a Deed and forged someone’s initial. An entire court battle just because of one forged signature. Don’t underestimate how dangerous notarizing Deeds can be, so take all the necessary precautions.

So, if you say, “But, my state doesn’t require me to keep a journal.” Ask yourself if you want to lose a month of your life trapped in court without pay.

Keeping a journal is not that hard, so don’t make a Federal case out of it otherwise you might be involved in a Federal case.

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October 17, 2017

Notary Public 101 — Quiz Questions

Filed under: Loan Signing 101 — admin @ 2:32 am

Return to Table of Contents for Notary Public 101.

QUIZ QUESTIONS

If you have studied our short but sweet Notary course, you might be ready for some sample questions. We alternate questions on our real test, but these questions will help you learn the knowledge concretely so you do well should we ever quiz you.

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1. What is/are the difference(s) between an Oath and an Affirmation?

2. What is the difference between an Acknowledgment and a Jurat?

3. Name all Notary acts allowed in your state.

4. Who has the final authority to decide what goes in the venue for an Acknowledgment certificate?

5. Can a borrower initial in an Acknowledgment if there is a change?

6. If you add a loose certificate, what precautions do you take to make sure it does not get added to a different document by accident or fraudulently?

7. If the FBI comes knocking on your door because you notarized someone with a fake ID, what piece of information will they want to see?

8. Which Notary act can the signer sign ten years before appearing before the Notary Public?

9. What is the difference between an Oath for a document (such as an Affidavit with a Jurat) and a purely oral statement?

10. If you are using a preprinted Acknowledgment filled out by the lender, after you inspect the boiler-plate wording with the he/she/they, the date, and the venue, what other things do you need to check on the acknowledgment form before signing and sealing?

11. What is wrong with the following Oath? “Do you affirm that the information you provided is true?”

12. Can you give an Oath that says, “Do you solemnly swear or affirm that your name is Mickey Mouse?”

13. Name two Notary acts that do not have a written document.

14. Name several Notary acts beginning with the letter A as their first letter.

15. What does, “Subscribed and sworn to before me” mean?

16. If you see the words, “Subscribed and sworn to before me BY,” then whose name goes after the by?

17. What is an affiant?

18. What is the technical term for state and county?

19. Name several situations where you might add a loose certificate.

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Notary Public 101 — POA, DOR, Dates, X

Filed under: Loan Signing 101 — admin @ 2:30 am

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ADDITIONAL TOPICS

These are really more loan signing topics, but I will include them in this basic Notary course since these are Notarized documents.

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POWER OF ATTORNEY

Notaries need to know the terms for the people involved in a Power of Attorney signing. The principal is the main person who signs the document who is the Grantor. This is the person who gives power of attorney to someone else to do tasks for him/her while he/she is incapacitated or out of the country. The Grantee is the same person as the Attorney in Fact or otherwise known as Agent. It is important to know these words and yes, we do test on them. However, at loan signings, people will do what is called a Power of Attorney signing. This happens when there is a completed Power of Attorney document and the Attorney in Fact will sign a loan on behalf of the principal. In these signings, they get rejected half the time for technicalities, so pay attention.

There are various ways for an Attorney in Fact to sign in their capacity.

John Smith as Attorney in Fact for Mary Smith
Mary Smith by John Smith, her Attorney in Fact.
John Smith POA for Mary Smith

There are more variations, but those are some common ones. The key thing to understand her is that:

The Lender decides the verbiage when you do a POA loan signing. The Notary might know the “correct” verbiage. However, legal information sites cite at least eight ways an AIF could sign in a POA signing that are all not BAD. The signing will be rejected if you do not sign exactly how the lender wants it. So, if there are no written instructions, ask the Lender.

How can I get a Power of Attorney Notarized?

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DEED OF RECONVEYANCE

The Deed of Reconveyance (DOR, not DOA by the way) is often signed by the Trustee and often has the term Trustee inscribed in the signature area instead of someone’s actual name which is very confusing and leads to trouble on a regular basis. Many Notaries have the borrower sign where it says trustee. Usually the trustee is a Lender, or might be the borrower in one of his capacities. If you are not sure who the Trustee is, then ask before you have someone sign there. It is safer to leave this form unsigned than guessing, otherwise you might cause a delay to the Lender and get fired. So, if you are not sure what to do, don’t have anyone sign where it says Trustee.

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DOCUMENT DATES

In the Notary world there are four types of dates. Transaction dates, rescission dates, document dates, and signature dates. The day you sign is the signature date and generally the transaction date. The rescission date is the last day to rescind. But, the document date is arbitrary and is created by the document drafter. It is normally either the day the document was drafted, the date it is intended to be signed, or an arbitrary date. There is no rule for what that date can be.

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SIGNATURE by X

If a signer is partially incapacitated and cannot sign their full name, many states will allow a Signature by X procedure. The procedure can vary state by state, but the way I was trained is as follows. The principal signs an X on the document and in your journal. There should be TWO SUBSCRIBING WITNESSES who witness the person sign. Witness #1 signs the person’s first name to the left of the X and witness #2 signs the person’s middle and last name to the right of the X. Do the same in the journal. Add a note to the document to let the readers and custodian know what happened as they might not be familiar with this procedure. Keep the phone numbers and ID info of the witnesses in your journal just in case.

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Notary Public 101 — Journals

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NOTARY JOURNALS

Not all states require keeping an official journal of Notarial acts, but 123notary requires it as that is the only evidence you have should you go to court. There are identity thieves and cons all over the place. They might pretend to be a home owner to steal that person’s equity or con grandma into giving her fortune away to some crooks. If your notarization ever goes to court, your journal is the only record of what happened and who signed what, etc. Most Notaries think keeping a journal is an annoying task that they do because they have to. It is the same attitude that children have towards doing their homework at age seven. But, your journal can save your neck, and I know many whose hides have been saved who ended up in court.

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ONE JOURNAL ENTRY PER PERSON PER DOCUMENT

Most Notaries think that you create one entry for each signer and then cram in the names of all of the documents you are notarizing. This is very sloppy. If you pick up five packages from fedex, do you sign once or do you sign five times, each for a particular tracking number? If you keep one journal entry per person per document, then you have a signature proving consent to be notarized for each document you notarize. Additionally, you must name the particular and complete name of each document, and not just say “loan docs.”

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INFORMATION

In your journal you write the date, time, type of notary act, name of document (the full name, no abbreviations or check boxes here please) and the document date. You need to record the name, address, and ID of the signer as well. Then the signature, thumbprint and notary fee. Let’s focus on the document information in this section though. You need to record the:

Full name of the document, not an abbreviation.

Document Date — many documents have a document date inscribed within that is an arbitrary date created by the document drafter. It could be the date the document was drafted, or the date it was intended to be signed, or a random arbitrary date.

Other distinguishing factors — if you are signing multiple documents with the same name such as Deeds of Trust, Grant Deeds, etc., you need to differentiate them somehow. Escrow numbers, names of grantors, grantees, APN numbers, property addresses, number of pages, or anything else can help identify a document after the fact in case you end up in court.

Signatures — each line of your journal needs to be signed by the corresponding person. If John and Sally are each signing three notarized documents, then John gets entry 1, 2, and 3 while sally gets 4, 5, and 6. Each signer must sign their three entries otherwise the entries are meaningless.

Thumbprints — I am skipping mentioning more about the other things that belong in a journal as most Notaries get it, however, few Notaries keep thumbprints. Your journal thumbprint is the one piece of evidence the FBI will ask for when they come knocking on your front door. Additionally, it discourages fraud as fraudulent people do not want to be thumbprinted.

Other Information — Although I am skipping elaborating about the other journal fields, I will make a quick note about the additional information section in a journal. That leaves space for information about credible witnesses, subscribing witnesses, unusual facts about the signers, the location, or the circumstances in which you are signing. If the signer claims that they are being kidnapped, write that down in the additional information section of your journal, then call the police. If the signer has a weird neck tattoo, you might need to remember that in court. Put it in your journal. The judge will think you are a very thorough Notary.

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FINAL NOTE

The purpose of journals is not only to please your state’s Secretary of State, but also to please judges and FBI agents. Keeping a clean, correct and thorough journal will make a positive impression on the authorities and could keep you from being named as a suspect if God forbit you ever unknowingly Notarize an identity thief, fraud, or otherwise bad person. Notaries don’t get in trouble that often, but for those who make a career out of being a Notary, eventually you will be investigated at least once and perhaps end up in court, so keep your paperwork in order so the investigation is fast and smooth. Otherwise you might end up in court for a very long time — no joke! Roughly 1/7 of the Notaries on our site have ended up in court due to something that they notarized.

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Notary Public 101 — Identification

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IDENTIFICATION

As a Notary Public, the most important thing you do is to identify a signer. Different states have different rules for what identification document you can use and how someone is to be identified. If a Notary fails to do a good job identifying a signer, that Notary can quickly end up in court as a witness or defendant. In my opinion if you don’t do a good job identifying signers, you might as well not be a Notary Public.

Identification Documents & Characteristics
Commonly accepted ID’s include passports, driver’s licenses, state issued ID cards, military ID’s. Green cards (permanent resident cards) are not necessarily allowed, so look that one up in your handbook. As a rule, an acceptable ID must be:

Current — (there are exceptions in California, Tennessee and perhaps other states that allow the ID to be issued within five years even if it is expired.)

Government Issued — Some Notaries think that a signature affidavit or gas bill is a good secondary form of ID, but those are not government issued and you don’t know what the source of the information for the names on them are.

Photo ID — An acceptable ID should have a photo. I do not think that many states allow social security cards as secondary identifications. However, you can look that up in your handbook.

Physical Description — the ID would say your height, eye color, etc.

Serial Number — the ID should have a number such as A58362D.

Expiration Date — the ID should have an expiration date somewhere. Normally there is an issue date as well somewhere.

Signature — the signature on the ID is important because you will need to compare that to the one in your journal and on the document made by the same person.

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THE NAME ON THE ID

Different states have different rules for what the name on the ID should say relative to the name on the document. Some states do not require the names to match. Others require that the Notary be reasonably sure that the person in the ID and the person on the document are the same person. Reasonably sure is a wishy-washy term. You can never be 100% sure it is the same person because ID’s can be falsified and there could be multiple people with the same name as well as multiple people who look similar to each other. Identifying humans is easier than identifying squirrels, but there can still be confusion. The name on the document’s signature must be provable to the name on the ID, otherwise it would be questionable and risky to notarize that signature.

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PROCEDURE

When you do a Notary act, you ask for the signer’s identification. You record that information in your journal and you keep a journal whether your state requires it or not as that is your only evidence in court. You compare the name on the ID to the name on the document. If the name on the document is not provable based on the ID then you are advised to decline the notarization, especially if it is for a Deed. Here is a summary of the ID and acknowledgment notarization process.

(1) Ask for ID.
(2) Record ID information in journal
(3) Have signer(s) sign your journal and the document(s)
(4) Compare the name in the document to the name on the ID. Make sure the name on the document is provable based on the ID.
(5) Make sure the signature in the journal, document and ID all match.
(6) Fill out the certificate, sign and seal.

Examples of provability in ID
ID says John Smith — document says John W Smith…. name is NOT provable.
ID says John W Smith — document says John W Smith… name is provable
ID says John William Smith — document says John W Smith… name is provable based on the ID.

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FAKE ID

Keep an eye out for fake ID’s. There are guide books that can yelp you identify a false identification. If there is peeling lamination or the signature is above the lamination then it is fake. You can ask the signer what his sign is or what his birthday or height is. If he does not know his sign or birthday based on the ID, then his ID is fake. If he does know his sign that is great, but does not prove the ID is real.

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THUMBPRINTS

If you value your life, ask for journal thumbprints. They can keep you out of court. People might complain about being asked to be thumbprinted as it can seem like an invasion of privacy and a hassle — but a thumbprint is the only way an investigative agency can have a paper trail leading to an arrest of an identity thief. Thumbprints are the only unique form of identification a Notary can use at this point in time. No two thumbprints are alike, and they cannot be forged at a Notary appointment unless they wear a latex thumbprint on their thumb which would be easily detectable.

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Notary Public 101 — Certificates

Filed under: Loan Signing 101 — admin @ 1:46 am

Return to table of contents for Notary Public 101.

You might also like: 10 tight points on loose certificates.

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NOTARIAL CERTIFICATES

There are certificates for various types of Notary acts. Acknowledgments, Jurats, Proofs of Execution. Some states even have certificates for Oaths and Affirmations. Let’s focus on Acknowledgment Certificates for now.

There are various parts of an Acknowledgment form.

(1) The venue. The venue is normally on the upper part of a certificate. In California now there is some verbiage in a box that I am not trained in. But, above the boiler plate wording there is a venue which documents the county and state. Is a venue the county where you did a transaction or two lines of information in a form? Both! However, the documentation of the venue is the one in the certificate and it is informally called the venue and not the documentation of the venue.

(2) The date. The date is a field the Notary is often held responsible to fill in. The date falls into the area of the boiler-plate wording of the form which is standardized wording from your state or perhaps another state.

(3) The names of the signers. As a Notary, you need to input the names of the signers or affiants into the Notary certificate if required. Sometimes it doesn’t make it clear whose name goes in the form. If it says, “Subscribed and sworn to before me by,” then after the “by” put the name of the affiant or signer otherwise you will ruin the form.

(4) The name of the Notary. The name of the Notary once again is entered into the boiler-plate wording area.

(5) Pronouns, singulars and plurals. Each state has a different wording for Notary certificates for each act. However, it is common and typical to have some sort of Notary verbiage that includes he/she/they executed the instrument, his/her/their signature(s), or his/her/their authorized capacity(ies). The critical thing here is to cross out the incorrect words and leave the correct wording. If you do a notarization for John, then cross out the her and their and the (s) assuming John only signed once. If you do a signing for Bruce Jenner then use a special form called the T-acknowledgment which says he/she/it’s complicated/they

(6) Testimonium Clause. Where it says “witness my hand and official seal,” that is called the testimonium clause. Below the boiler plate wording is the signature area where you sign and then affix your notarial seal. And by the way, “Locus Sigilli” means the location of the seal.

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CHANGES TO CERTIFICATES

Making any change on a Notary certificate is messy in my opinion. You can consider crossing out and initialing wrong information. Remember that ONLY the Notary can initial or write on the certificate forms and the signer cannot touch it. However, it is cleaner to create a new certificate using an Acknowledgment that you get from a pad that you keep your Notary bag. That way you can start all over, fill the form out correctly and then staple it to the document in question.

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ADDING LOOSE CERTIFICATES

If you notarize a document that either does not have acceptable Notary wording or doesn’t have any Notary wording (or wrong information on the form) then you might want to add a loose certificate from your pad of certificates that you purchased from the NNA (recommended). Additionally, if there is no room for your seal in some pre-existing Notary verbiage, you might be forced to add a certificate for logistical reasons.

You might also like this blog article:
Sending loose certificates in the mail is generally illegal!

If you add a loose certificate, the certificate must be filled out thoroughly. This means that in addition to the legally required verbiage, you fill out the ADDITIONAL INFORMATION section. The additional information section includes:

Document name — if you don’t put the name of the document on your loose certificate, it might be unstapled and added to a wrong document by accident or on purposes.

Document date — if you don’t put the document date, your certificate might be added to a different document with the same name by accident or fraudulently.

Number of Pages — if you put nine pages, then it will be hard for a fraud to swap the certificate and put it on a similar document with eight pages.

Other Signers — You can name the other signers on the document.

Capacities — California no longer allows this, but you can mention if any of the signers are signing as Attorney in Fact or some other capacity.

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EMBOSSERS

Cautious Notaries often use an embosser when notarizing. You can use an inked seal and also a non-ink embosser that leaves a raised seal. If someone photo copies your certificates, the embossed impression will not show up in the photocopy. Additionally, you can emboss each page of a document to discourage page swapping.

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AUTHORITY

If there is a disagreement between a Title company involved in a transaction and a Notary regarding what venue or information goes in an Acknowledgment or Jurat certificate, the Notary has absolute authority. The Notary may ask for the Title company’s preference if there are two legal ways of doing something such as crossing out and initialing vs. adding on a loose certificate if there is an error. However, it is the Notary who is legally responsible for filling out the form and it is the Notary who will end up in court if there is a problem.

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WHO TO ASK FOR HELP WITH CERTIFICATES

If the Notary does not know what to do when filling in forms or notarizing, do NOT ask the Lender or Title companies as they have a beneficial interest in the transaction AND because they are not experts in the field. The tiel rep might be a Notary, but not necessarily in your state, and not necessarily an informed Notary. Title and Lenders will typically tell you whatever it takes to get the job done whether it is legal, recommendable, safe, or kosher, or not. They don’t care just as long as their loan goes through and YOU, the Notary are the one who gets locked up if you did something illegal just as long as it is your seal on the page.

If you need help with a Notary problem, consult your state’s Notary division as a first resource and the NNA hotline as your next resource. I would be very wary about trusting anyone else.

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Notary Public 101 — Basic Notary Acts

Filed under: Loan Signing 101 — admin @ 1:44 am

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BASIC NOTARY ACTS

Each state has a different list of official Notary acts. Some state handbooks don’t make it clear if certain actions are considered “official” notary acts or not. However, all states or the vast majority have Acknowledgments, Jurats, Oaths, and Affirmations. Many also have Protests and Proofs of Execution, while only a few have Witnessing, Attesting, immigration form filling, and depositions as acts. There are a few more acts I will not mention as they are obscure and very state specific. Let’s focus on the main acts that we will hold you responsible for knowing.

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

When I studied to be a Notary, my teacher said you Acknowledge a signature, Execute a Jurat and Administer an Oath. This is not true. The Notary is not the one who acknowledges a signature. The SIGNER acknowledges the signature and then the Notary CERTIFIES that the signer acknowledged the signature by virtue of filling out the Acknowledgment Certificate. Here are some basics on Acknowledgments.

1. The signer acknowledges having signed the document.

2. The signer my physically personally appear before the Notary for such an act.

3. The signer does NOT have to sign before the Notary according to most if not all states such as AK, IA, SC, SD, VT, and WV. Lenders might require the borrower to sign in the presence of the Notary, but that is a particular Lender’s standard and not necessarily a state standard or even a best practice.

4. The Notary must positively identify the signer using identification documents acceptable to their state which normally include Drivers Licenses, State issued identification photo ID’s, Passports, and Military ID’s. Other ID might be accepted on a state by state basis and you can look that up in your handbook. Also, see our section on identification.

5. The Notary should ideally keep a journal entry of all Notarial acts even if their state does not require this.

6. There should be Acknowledgment wording appropriate or acceptable to your state inscribed within the document, or you can attach a loose acknowledgment form with a staple.

7. After you fill out the certificate form, you sign and stamp the page (some states allow you to write in your seal information without a stamp.) Make sure your stamp is clear and not smudgy otherwise the county recorder has the right to reject the Notarization.

8. Note — some states require the Notary to ask the signer to attest to the fact that they signed in their own free will. Please be aware if your state has any unusual requirements or special wording on forms.

9. A California Notary faces many restructions as to what type of out of state forms they can use. Please check the California Notary Handbook to see what you can accept and what you can’t otherwise you could get in trouble particularly if it is a recorded document.

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JURATS

Jurats are a Notary act where the signer or affiant by definition signs and swears (and/or sometimes affirms) before the Notary. Jurat wording differs from state to state. However, some basic verbiage includes the phrase, “Subscribed and sworn to before me.” What does this mean? This means that the document was signed in the physical presence of the Notary Public as well as sworn to before the Notary Public at the signing. In an Acknowledged signature you can sign prior to seeing the Notary, but you acknowledge before the Notary. A Jurat is completely different. Modern verbiage for Jurats sometimes says, “Subscribed and sworn or affirmed to before me.” This does not mean that you can administer an Oathfirmation and mix the Affirmation and Oath verbiage. This means that you can have the client choose if they want an Oath or Affirmation and do one or the other. Don’t mix these Notary acts unless your state specifically says you can.

Many Notaries are unaware that when executing a Jurat, you do need to administer an Oath particular to the document being signed. Please see our commentary on Oaths below. Failing to administer an Oath on a Jurat is illegal and could void the legal completeness of the document. Some states additionally will reserve the right to suspend your commission if you omit a legally required Oath.

“Subscribed and sworn to before me” is NOT Oath verbiage! That is the written documentation that you gave an Oath. When you ask the affiant to raise their right hand, do NOT utter the words, “subscribed and sworn to before me.” otherwise they will think you are an idiot and there will be no way for them to respond unless they repeat. Start an Oath with, “do you solemnly swear” after they have raised their right hand.

A good Oath for a document could be, “Do you solemnly swear under the penalty of perjury that the information in this document is true and correct to the best of your knowledge, so help you God?” Then the other person says, “I do.” Then you pronounce them “man and document” by the powers vested in you.

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OATHS

Not all Notarial acts include a written document or written certificate. Some are purely oral. Oaths and Affirmations are oral acts where most states do not have a certificate for the Oath. You should write in your journal if you administered an Oath and where it says, “Name of document” you should write that you gave an Oath about a particular topic. You do not write the actual verbiage of the Oath in your journal. You might write, “Oath regarding military duty” or “Oath of citizenship,” etc.

Oath verbiage is generally up to the Notary and few states have any actual requirements for what you should say. However, common sense and tradition dictate certain things about Oath verbiage.

Raise Your Right Hand — you traditionally have the signer raise their right hand before swearing under Oath.

Solemnly – it is traditional to ask the signer if they solemnly swear. An Oath is a solemn occassion and swearing to a Notary is as official as swearing to a judge in a court of law.

Swear — you must use the word “swear” in an Oath otherwise it is no longer an Oath.

Document or Statement — in an Oath you should make a reference to the content you are swearing to. It might be a document, or a statement you are about to me. Just make sure you reference the content in a way that makes sense. Asking someone to swear to “the information” is not as precise as asking them to swear to the truthfulness of “this document” while pointing to the document.

God — Oaths traditionally refer to God. If someone doesn’t like God, rather than remove God from the Oath, do an Affirmation INSTEAD of an Oath.

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Correct Oath wording for a Notary to make for a Document
“Please raise your right hand. Do you solemnly swear that the document you signed is true and correct to the best of your knowledge, so help you God?” — The answer would be, “I do.”

Wrong Oaths for a Document
“Do you solemnly swear that the statement you are about to make is true?”
“Do you solmenly swear that the information you provided is true?”

Commentary
If you are swearing to a document there is no statement you are about to make. There is a document you already signed that you swear to. You cannot swear to a statement you are not going to make — that is nonsense. The information in the document might have been provided by a Lender or Attorney, so don’t make them swear to WHO provided the information. Just have them swear that it is true.

Administering an Oath
When you are a Notary and you give or supervise an Oath to someone, you are administering an Oath. When you administer an Oath there are two ways to do it. You either ask an Oath question such as the ones mentioned above, or you say, “Repeat after me.” Repeating after me is really tenous as every three words the affiant has to repeat those words and it is like being six years old doing the pledge of allegience. How annoying!

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AFFIRMATIONS

An Affirmation is similar to an Oath. The are equal in their significance and used during the same situations. Affirmations are legal in most states. Check your state’s handbook to see if they are used in yours and if there is any state specific wording that you must use. However, you cannot mix and match the wording in an Affirmation. If your client wants to do an Affirmation, you use the word Affirm or State rather than swear, and you do not mention God. Leave God out of it! Other than that, the verbiage is the same as an Oath, so help you nobody!

To better understand choosing Oaths vs. Affirmations or mixing them up together read this fun article about Airline Meals versus Oaths and Affirmations.

To administer an Affirmation for a document just say, “Do you solemnly affirm or state that the information in this document is correct?” or for a purely oral statement just say, “Do you solemnly affirm or state that the statement you are about to give is true and correct?”

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PROOF OF EXECUTION

Not all states allow proofs of execution, but it is a traditional Notary act that I would like you to know about. In a proof of execution, the principal who is the one who signs the document signs when a subscribing witness is witnessing his signature. The definition of a subscribing witness is one who watches someone else sign. Then the subscribing witness appears before a Notary and swears under Oath that he/she witnessed so and so signing the document. I have never heard of this act being done, but for less formal documents, it is often allowed and it is interesting to read about as it is so unusual.

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PROTESTS

Not all states have protests. Protests are normally done by people working in banking to protest the non-payment of a bill or bounced check. We do not hold our Notaries responsible to understand this act although it is good to know what it is.

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Notary Public 101 — Basic Notary Vocabulary

Return to the table of contents of Notary Public 101.

BASIC NOTARY TERMS
We will hold you responsible for these. You might also like our complete glossary of Notarial terms.

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Affiant
An Affiant is a person who will swear under Oath and is commonly used to refer to someone who is signing an Affidavit.

Affix
When you attach something to another thing that is considered affixing. But, in the Notary profession when you stamp something with your seal that is also called Affixing. If you forget to stamp a document you notarized and title finds out, you will really be in affix (a third usage of the word.)

Agent
Someone who has received special powers from a Power of Attorney signing is called an Agent or Attorney in Fact and also referred in the document as a Grantee.

Apostille
An Apostille is a Notary procedure or act that involves both the Notary and the Secretary of State where the Secretary of State officially verifies that the Notary used in a transaction is indeed a real and current Notary in good standing. This procedure is used when sending certain documents outside the country and Authentications are also used to send to other particular counties.

Attorney in Fact
The person who receives Power of Attorney is called an Attorney in Fact or Agent. When this person signs on behalf of the principal they sign: John Smith, as Attorney in Fact for Sharon Smith. There are other versions for how to sign as an Attorney in Fact.

Borrower
The borrower is mistakenly refered to as a “client” or “customer” by newer Notaries. The signing company regards the title company as their customer while the signer of the loan is called the borrower in oral language. Please also distinguish between a loan signing notary who supervises the signer and is not himself a signer although many Notaries refer to themselves as signers as a professional designation. The Notary Signing Agent is a signing facilitator, not an actual signing in real terms. The borrower can also be referred to as a Mortgagor who borrows from the Mortgagee (the Lender).

Certificate
A Notary Certificate could be a loose piece of paper attached to a Notarized document. A Jurat could be on a loose certificate where the Affiant writes a statement that they will swear to and sign in the presence of the Notary. Not all Notary acts use a certificate such as purely verbal acts such as Oaths and Affirmations and in some states Witnessing. Please understand that although a Jurat uses an Oath as part of the act, that an Oath by itself does not use a certificate.

Copy Certification by Document Custodian
Some states allow for document copy certifications to be an official Notary Act. Some states only allow for a certified copy of a Power of Attorney. However, the Copy Certification by Document Custodian is an unofficial copy certificate and a glorified Jurat with special additional verbiage where the document custodian swears to the fact that the copy is a true copy of the original document.

Grantee
A Grantee is a term used to refer to someone who has been given something such as Power of Attorney agent priveleges. The actual Power of Attorney document uses this term to describe the future Attorney in Fact or Agent.

Grantor
A Grantor is a term used to describe someone who has given Power of Attorney priveleges by naming an individual as Attorney in Fact or Agent in a Power of Attorney document.

Principal
The main signer of a document could be refered to as a principal. This is the Grantor in a Power of Attorney signing although the two terms are not synonomous. A Principal is also a term used in a Proof of Execution signing and is the person who signs the document.

Subscribing Witness
A witness who watches someone sign is called a subscribing witness. The Signature by X procedure uses a subscribing witness who is also commonly referred to as a credible witness meaning a witness who can be trusted. Proofs of Execution use a subscribing witness as well to appear before the Notary Public on behalf of the principal who is the person who signed the document.

Venue
The venue is the part of the Notary certificate generally near the top that is used to state the state and county. All states have a venue somewhere in the top third of the certificate for all Notary acts that use a certificate such as Acknowledgments, Jurats, Proofs of Execution, etc. A venue is also the place where the notarization takes place. If you change the venue, does that mean you get up from your chair and go to a different address or does it mean you cross out and initial the venue in the Acknowledgment form. I’ll leave that to your imagination.

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A Massachusetts Notary Speaks Out. A coerced signature.

Filed under: Technical & Legal — Tags: — admin @ 12:02 am

A few days ago I spoke to a Massachusetts Notary Public on our list. She told me that there are some strange laws out there that almost got her in trouble. She had to appear before a judge due to a Notarization gone wrong. The wife was forced to sign by the husband and she didn’t really want to. I think they were from a foreign country where men boss people around because American men know what will happen to them if they boss people around.

Unbeknownst to me, there is an unusual law in Massachusetts where for some or all Notarial acts, the Notary must ask the signer (or ask the signer to swear — forgot which) if they are signing on their own free will.

I have never heard of a signer being coerced to sign in America. In India it happens a lot when people want to steal your property.

The judge made the Notary promise to always make the signer claim that they are signing under their own free will otherwise their commission would be revoked. Yikes. But, that is not a bad law.

I wonder why we don’t have that law in California. We have all types of other nonsensical laws. Hmmm.

Acknowledged signature
Witnessed signature
Forged signature
UnCoerced signature

So, now we have a new notary act — an uncoerced signature. That should be its own act not to be confused with an acknowledged signature.

The moral of the story is, if you notarize strange foreigners where the men think that men can still act like men and get away with it, beware, they might be forcing the females to sign.

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