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August 3, 2018

Notary Public 101 — Scenarios: Hospital signing issues

Filed under: Technical & Legal — Tags: — admin @ 6:48 am

Have you ever done a signing in a hospital? You should be prepared, because one day you might do it. There are many issues that come up in hospital signings. First of all, it is common to have to decline service because the signer has been medicated, or has lost their mind. As a Notary, you should be aware that you can easily be subpoenaed for hospital signings as it is common for people to not remember what they signed and for people to try to take advantage, so be cautious.

As a Notary you need to be able to gauge the situation over the phone before you commit to coming, and once again gauge the situation once you are in front of the signers. The person who calls you to come to the hospital is almost never the signer, but usually a family member, Attorney, or scam artist.

Confirming the appointment.
Have your contact person read the name as it appears on the ID, and the expiration date (the expiration date of the card, or the patient, whichever comes first). Then, have the contact person read how the name appears on the document. Not only are you checking if names match, but if they even have an ID, know where it is, and have their document all ready. Confirm that they will not be medicated before you come and make sure the nurses know that the notary job is off if they medicate at all.

Once at the appointment.
Get travel fees at the door. Otherwise you will have a beneficial interest (in my opinion) in having the document signed. When you meet the signer, you can ask them questions about the document being signed. Don’t ask yes/no questions. Ask questions that make them explain the document to you. You can also make small talk about how you love what President Clinton did yesterday. If they are on the ball, they will know that President Clinton is no longer in office. You need effective ways to screen out people on morphine and those who have lost their mind. You should also ask if they have been medicated in the last twelve hours.

Comments
It is not your job to decide who gets morphine and when. However, if a signer does get medicated, let the contact person know that you will walk off with their travel fee as you do not dare notarize a medicated person who is not fully conscious, especially on a Power of Attorney.

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Notary Public 101 — Scenarios: How do you notarize a document with no signature line?

If you have been instructed to notarize a document that doesn’t have a signature line, that is a cross between a quandary and a conundrum.

You cannot notarize a document without a signature. Notaries notarize signatures on documents, not documents, and especially not documents without signatures. And you cannot have a signature without a signature line. But, it could be construed as UPL for a Notary to add a signature line to a document. So, now your ability to get the job done is really on the line — which unfortunately doesn’t exist in this case, until someone writes one in.

So, what do you do to get the document notarized? If the signer draws a signature line, then they are the one engaging in UPL, not you, especially if you do not advise them to do so. The bottom line (no pun intended), which is the signature line, is that without a signature, there can be no Acknowledgment or Jurat on a particular document. An Oath or Affirmation are the only Notary Acts you can do without a signature.

So, once a signature line has been added, the affiant can sign, and then you can notarize the signature on the document.

But, what if you have a signature without a document — that is an entirely different question.

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July 31, 2018

Notarizing the elderly — do more digging to be sure it is legit

Filed under: Hospital & Jail Signings — Tags: , — admin @ 9:35 am

There are many people who prey on the elderly. Elderly people need help and cannot always get it. Perhaps their family no longer talks to them, or is far away. Perhaps they have no family. Those who seem like they are family members or “helping” the elderly might be scam artists.

If you are notarizing for an elderly person, you need to check out the people who are helping. Here are some things you should find out.

1. What is your relationship to the signer? What is your name?
2. Why are you having this document signed? What is it about?
3. How does it benefit the signer?

This is a little nosy, but Notaries end up in court a lot in elder signings, so perhaps it is better to be suspicious up front to discourage the others from defrauding others.

You might indicate in your journal who the helpers are. This is not required, but if you have ID information for the helpers, that could help catch them in the off chance you are investigated. Also, nobody who is doing something illegal wants their ID recorded in a Notary journal. They might back off. The point of all of this extra work is to discourage people from getting you in a position where you will have to end up in court.

If when asking the helpers questions about their relationship with the signer, why they are helping, etc., you can see if they flinch or are awkward. I am not an investigator and do not know how liars act, but you might find them to be very uncomfortable if you start digging. Be polite in your digging and explain that many elder signings end up in court and that you want to make sure that nothing will go wrong.

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June 26, 2018

Which rules are laws, Lender practices, or best practices?

Notary Rules

or Industry Rules?
It is confusing with all the standards in the Notary business.. When 123notary teaches Notary practices, we are not teaching laws, but solid practices. Many Notaries argue with us about our practices because they are not required by law. That is the whole point — we are not teaching law because we are not authorized to, and because we don’t know it. We do know solid notary practices, and teach it as you can get into trouble for not knowing your basics. However, notaries have many misconceptions about the rules of the industry. So, let me clarify.

1. You can always over sign — industry practice (not a law)
Is this a Notary law, industry practice, or what? This statement means that you can sign a document with a name that is longer than the name typed in the signature line. However, that does not make it legal to notarize that longer name unless you can prove the name with an ID. Pleasing the Lender is one aspect of being a Notary. Obeying the law is a much more important one. If you displease the Lender you get fired. If you get in trouble with the law you can end up in jail. Pick your poison.

2. The name on the ID has to match
Please keep in mind that there are four names we have to keep track of:
(a) The name on the ID
(b) The name typed on the signature section of the document.
(c) The name signed on the document
(d) The name on the acknowledgment.

In theory these names could all be different variations, but it is cleaner if they are identical. The critical points are that:

(e) The name on the Acknowledgment must be identical or matching but shorter than the name on the signature line of the document. If the signature on the document says John W Smith, you can put John Smith or John W Smith in the Acknowledgment to please the law, but the shorter name might not please the client.
(f) The name on the Acknowledgment must be provable based on the name on the ID, but does not have to be an exact match. The ID could say John W Smith and you can put John Smith in the Acknowledgment if you like.
(g) The name signed on the document can be identical or matching but longer than the name typed on the document to please most Lenders, but legally notarizing the longer signature or shorter signature is dependent on proving all of the components of their name with an ID.

3. The Lender is the boss of the Notary Public (true for signings, but not for the actual notary work)
The Lender is your boss as to the general assignment, and what happens with loan documents. They are NOT your boss about Notary issues and you should not ask them for Notary advice ever as they might have you do something illegal out of ignorance or greed. You ask your state’s notary division if you have a Notary question and perhaps the NNA hotline and that’s it. The Notary can ask the Lender their preference in how something is notarized if there is more than one legal way to do it, but you can not ask a Lender how to do your job. You are the appointed Notary, not them. If they want to do it their way, they should come over with their stamp and do it their way which hopefully is legal — but, it is their commission at stake if it is not legal. Don’t risk your commission depending on the Lender or Title for Notary advice.

4. The Notary is the boss of the Lender?
The Notary is a state appointed official who represents their state, although the state is not the entity that pays them. If there is a discussion between the Lender and the Notary as to how a Notary act is done, the Notary dictates how it should be done. If there are multiple legal ways to do something such as fixing a mistake by crossing out and initialing vs. attaching a loose certificate — then, the Notary can ask for the Lender’s preference, but not for advice. However, there are liability issues with doing cross outs and initialing. It looks like tampering and you don’t want to end up in court. So, once again, it is the Notary’s discretion as to how problems are solved when there are multiple methods to solve. You can ask the Lender what they like or you can dictate to the Lender what you are going to do. But, the Notary is the boss of Notary work. If they don’t like it, they can find another Notary. It is best if you explain the reasons why you want to do something a particular way. If your reason sounds prudent, there is a chance you might get some respect for your decision. Most Notaries don’t think issues out carefully and do not have well thought out reasons for anything they do. Read our course more and become reasonable! Your commission might depend on it.

5. Send me a loose certificate or jurat in the mail (illegal)
Acknowledgment or Jurat certificates must be stapled to the documents they are associated with. If there is one floating around, you cannot create another one until you destroy the original yourself. Some states do not allow creating new certificates for botched notarizations and require you to do the notarization all over again. Consult your notary handbook on this issue, especially in California where there are many new rules created in the last few years that I have heard about but not actually read to my satisfaction.

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May 29, 2018

Notary Felons — whose dilemma is it?

Filed under: Technical & Legal — admin @ 11:01 am

It has come to my attention that when I quiz Notaries, only 30% give Oaths regularly, and the other 70% do not. Of the 30% who claim they administer Oaths, the Oaths are normally irrelevant and incorrect. It is really only about 10% of Notaries who sign up on our site who give correct and relevant Oaths with a degree of proficiency. So, why is this a problem? Nobody is checking up on us, right? Generally right.

When a loan is called into court (which doesn’t happen that often) the Judge might ask the Notary if he/she indeed administered an Oath to the borrower. If the Notary says no, or has no proficiency at giving Oaths in front of the Judge, the Notary could be accused of Perjury.

Lying under Oath can be considered perjury. However, filling out a Jurat that says “sworn to me” when in fact nobody swore to anything at the Notarial transaction — can be considered perjury on the part of the Notary Public. This is a federal crime with a possible jail sentence of up to five years per incident. Yet, Notaries throughout the nation are going about committing perjury almost every time they do a signing without a care in the world. This is a serious legal matter that you should be concerned with.

Why am I concerned with this? Because I am advertising people who might be felons. I cannot prove who the felons are or when they committed a felony, but it seems that many of our notaries based on my quiz are committing perjury on Jurats on an almost daily basis. If they were audited, they might go to jail.

I did not realize I was doing business with a criminal class of people, but that is the case. Please be an expert at Oaths, because I am not confident about listing Notaries who are engaged in serious crimes such as perjury which is what you are committing when you sign a statement saying you administered an Oath when you did not.

If I find out that you do not give Oaths, I might have to remove your listing temporarily or permanently.

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May 20, 2018

Tips for avoiding liability with the elderly

Filed under: Hospital & Jail Signings — Tags: — admin @ 9:37 am

Elder Notarizations

If you are a Mobile Notary, you will undoubtedly get calls from people in hospitals, convalescent homes, and jails. The problem with jail signings used to be lock downs and the lack of an acceptable ID. I’m not sure if ID rules have changed or jail practices have changed in the mean time because I keep hearing rumors that there is some formal jail ID card now.

But, the problem with elder notary hospital signings are different. Here are my points and recommendations for notarizing the elderly and bed-ridden.

1. Read the ID over the phone
Not all elderly people have an ID, and not all have a current identification. Have someone read the identification information and expiration date to you over the phone. That way you will know that they:
(a) Have an ID
(b) Can find the ID
(c) That it reads a name that proves the name on the document (which should already have been drafted)
(d) That the identification for notary work has not expired.

2. Ask if the signer will be drugged within several hours of the notarization.
If the signer is not sober, you should decline to notarize, and let the family of the hospitalized person know that your travel fee is paid in cash at the door. If you feel for any reason that it is not prudent to notarize the signer, that you will walk out for reasons pertaining to legal liability. Here are some reasons to decline service.

(a) The signer is sleeping

(b) The signer communicates incoherently or in a tone you cannot clearly understand.

(c) The signer cannot orally summarize the document in a way that makes you feel sure they understand what they are signing.

(d) The signer has been drugged recently perhaps with morphine.

(e) The signer cannot sign their name. If you know how to do a signature by X procedure that might be a substitute, but check your state laws and procedures before doing a signature by Mark or X.

(f) The signer cannot sit up or move their arm to sign.

If there is a problem with a hospital notarization, it is better to find out before you get in your car. Have the family communicate with the signer, have the signer practice signing a blank piece of paper with the family before you commit to an appointment. There is a lot that can go wrong, so try to anticipate common problems and solve them before you drive over.

3. Legal liability
If you notarize for a person who is bed-ridden, the chances of the transaction ending up in court are at least twenty times as high as for loan signings, so you should charge a lot more for hospital notarizations due to the unseen costs of doing business, not to mention the waiting time and other inconveniences. If you are a sloppy Notary, I would suggest not doing hospital notarizations at all as they will come back to you and your sloppily kept or not kept journal will be the only thing that will save you or not save you in court. Here are some things that can go wrong at hospital notary jobs that can get you in trouble.

(a) The signer claims that they were tricked into signing something that gave their money away.

(b) The signer may be conscious when you are doing the signing, but afterwards might not remember signing something.

(c) Someone might investigate and question whether the signer really signed the document or really knew what they were doing.

(d) Someone might questions the identity of the person who actually signed. That is why I kept thumbprints. However thumbprints for the elderly often are like tires with no tread which makes them hard to differentiate.

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Do you like your job? A story of being kept waiting forever at a hospital.
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Hospital Notary job tips from A to Z
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April 25, 2018

Preparing to Sign a Last Will and Testament

Filed under: Technical & Legal — admin @ 11:11 am

Preparing to Sign a Last Will and Testament

One of the most important documents that a person signs during the course of a lifetime is his or her last will and testament. Of course, ensuring that a last will and testament is drafted properly is crucial. However, ensuring that a last will and testament is valid does not end when the instrument has been written. The manner in which the document is signed is vital to its ultimate validity.

State Laws Govern Drafting and Signing a Last Will and Testament

Each individual state has its own laws as they pertain to the drafting and signing of a last will and testament. With that said, many states utilize a derivation of what is known as the Uniform Probate Code. In other words, although there are some minor differences from one state to another when it comes to a will, there is a great deal of commonality in the laws about wills across the United States.

In order to make certain that a last will and testament is appropriately drafted and properly executed, a person does need to check the specific laws of the state in which the will is signed. This is the only way in which compliance with the law can be confirmed.

The Role of a Notary Public at a Will Signing

A notary public plays a pivotal role in the execution or signing of a last will and testament. One of the power bestowed upon a notary public is the ability to administer oaths and confirm information in certain situations. For example, at the time of the signing of a last will and testament, a notary public is charged with confirming a number of factors before a person signs the instrument.

First, a notary public is required to confirm that the person about to sign his or her last will and testament understands what is contained in the instrument. A notary public doesn’t quiz the signer on the contents of the instrument. Rather, a notary public requires the signer to affirm that he or she has read the instrument and understands its contents.

Second, a notary public must concern that based on his or her reading of a last will and testament that the instrument does what the signer intends. In other words, the signer must affirm that the last will and testament deals with matters associated with his or her estate in the manner in which he or she intents and desires.

Third, a notary must ascertain that the signer of a last will and testament is of sound mind and body at the time of the execution of the instrument.

Finally, when the person signing a last will and testament executes the document, a notary public verifies the signature and affixes the seal of his or her office to the instrument.

Witnesses at a Will Signing

The laws of all states mandate that witnesses be present at the execution of a last will and testament. The laws do differ as to how many witnesses must be on hand at the signing of a last will and testament.

The witnesses are present to confirm that the person executing a last will and testament understands what he or she is doing, that he or she is signing the will as a free and voluntary act, and that the signer is of sound mind and body.

The witnesses can end up playing a pivotal role should the day ever come that a last will and testament is being challenged in some manner. For example, the witnesses might be called upon to testify in court if a challenge is made to the will after the signer of the instrument dies. The witnesses might be called upon to testify that the signer was of sound mind and body when the last will and testament was executed.

At the time of the execution of a last will and testament, a notary ensures that the witnesses understand their roles. The witnesses sign the instrument, after the signer of the will itself completes that task. A notary typically verifies the signatures of the witnesses to the last will and testament as well.

Generally speaking, a last will and testament usually is signed in the office of the attorney that drafted the instrument in the first instance. More often than not, the attorney will have a notary public available from his or her own staff. There are rare situations in which a notary public is called in from the outside to witness and notarize the signing of a last will and testament.

 
Jessica Kane is a professional blogger who focuses on personal finance and other money matters. She currently writes for Checkworks.com, where you can get personal checks and business checks.

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April 17, 2018

How often do Notaries end up in court?

Filed under: Technical & Legal — Tags: — admin @ 10:24 am

Notaries can end up in court for a variety of reasons. If the person you notarized used a fake ID and you did not thumbprint them, you are likely to end up in court. If a borrower is suing the Lender and wants to sue all involved, you could end up in trouble. If you explain something poorly and the signer feels you are denying a legitimate request for service and they miss a deadline and experience a loss — you can end up in court.

Here are some ways to increase your likelihood of ending up in court:

1. Not keeping a journal
2. Doing hospital or elder notarizations (even if you are cautious)
3. Not taking journal thumbprints
4. Not explaining notary requirements clearly to irate customers who will lose big bucks if you refuse them service.
5. Doing a notarization for someone who happens to be in a court building at the time of notarization (sorry, bad example.)

So, bad communication and record keeping skills are the prime reason people get in legal trouble as a Notary.

One in seven full-time Notaries who we have spoken to (rough estimate) have ended up in court at least once. Having good records makes it a lot easier for judges and investigators. So, when we ask you to keep a journal, we are not doing that just to put another burden on you. It is for safety reasons — your safety and the public’s safety.

If someone copies your seal and impersonates you the notary and notarizes something, if you don’t have a journal of what you actually did in real life every day — then you will not be able to prove to a judge that you did not notarize that phony notarization and you can get in trouble or even end up in jail. So, if you don’t like jail, keep a journal. That is a far fetched worst case scenario, but you could get in bad trouble. So, keep a journal even if your state says you don’t have to because the FBI doesn’t play games and neither should you. And FBI is FEDERAL and they work in all states regardless of whether your state requires a journal.

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he FBI is at your door and names you as a suspect!
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=20013

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April 14, 2018

Check to see if the signatures match

Filed under: Technical & Legal — admin @ 10:24 am

As a Notary, when you do an Acknowledgment, the signer does not need to sign in your presence (in most states). However, they need to appear before you and sign your journal. You must check to see if the signatures match the ID, journal and document. If they don’t, you have a big problem. Also, make sure the person looks like they do in their ID, and note down their ID information in your journal which of course you keep because you can get in trouble if you don’t keep one even in states that don’t require it.

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April 10, 2018

Document dates, signature dates, rescission dates and transaction dates

As a Notary, you will undoubtedly be confronted with a variety of dates that all need to be clearly defined in conversation so as not to confuse yourself or the other party. Let me sum these up.

Document Dates
The document date is NOT necessarily the date the document is notarized. It is merely an arbitrary date normally created by the document drafter that might reflect the date the document was drafted, supposed to be signed, supposed to be notarized, or some other arbitrary date. There is no rule for when a document date can be.

Signature Dates
The signature date of a document is the date it was signed. If you have two signers signing on different dates, you might have what 123notary calls “a double date.” There are multiple questions involved in a double date. One is how do you date the rescission document if the date you signed a document is more than one date. The other far more important question is — who pays?

Rescission Dates
The rescission date is based on a date that comes CALENDAR three days after the transaction (= signature date) not including Sundays or Federal holidays. If you have two signature dates, you might have two rescission dates, one per person. But, if there is only one rescission date, it probably is based on the last signature (complicated.)

Transaction Dates
This is more of a glossary type term or test term. The transaction date is the date when the transaction happened which is based on the date of the signature. I ask people what the synonym is for a signature date to see how much they read.

Medjool Dates
If you go to a signing for health conscious people or Saudi’s, after the signing, you might get yet another type of a date — a Medjool date. These dates are typically grown in the Middle East, but also in parts of Arizona near Yuma

Hot Dates Q&A
If you steal a document, would the date on the document be correctly defined as being a “hot date” since it was technically stolen?

Dates and Journal Entries
A good Notary does more than his/her state’s minimum requirements for journal entries. There is a field in your journal for the name and/or description of the document. A good journal also has an optional field for the document date. I suggest you pay attention and write in the document date as it helps to identify a particular document and distinguish it from a different document with the same name signed by the same person. Sometimes the document date is the only way to tell them apart.

Dates and Notary Appointments
I once went to a Notary appointment with a date. I left the date in the car and came out $30 richer. She complained that I left her in the car too long, which is good, because that date would expire at midnight.

Please also read our previous article on the same topic. Read more…

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Backdating from A to Z
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