You are at a notarization and the instructions say, “Notarize this page.” However, there is no certificate wording on the page. What do you do now? The Notary may not choose the Notary act as that might be construed as UPL. So, just ask the client or signer what act they want and then attach the corresponding certificate to the document. That’s all.
Yes people, it really happened. A Los Angeles Notary notarized the wrong person. That person was committing some type of fraud. The next thing you know, some detectives were banging on her door. She had to let them have two of her journals. But, that was not good enough for the detectives. They went through a long whining session.
One of the thumbprints taken by the Notary was blurry. How can you do forensics on a blurry thumbprint? Why was that Notary so lazy that they could not take a proper thumbprint? It’s not rocket science — you just push down — and that’s it. Take thumb, press down in ink pad, rise thumb, press straight down on journal thumbprint designated space, feel good, that’s all.
Then on another journal entry, there was no thumbprint, and trust me, the detectives complained a whole lot about that.
So, if you are Notaries and say, “You’re being too picky Jeremy, and besides, my state doesn’t require that.” There are real reasons why I make the recommendations that I do, and it is not just to give you a hard time. You can get in real trouble without thumbprints and proper journal work. Don’t let it happen to you.
I never stopped to think about this until today. What defines a signature? A signature is a type of a mark that is systemically used by a particular individual to identify themselves by name on a document. It is normally a cursive version of their name (do they still teach cursive to the youngins these days?) Some people might print their name in a unique way. Some disabled people might do a signature by x with some subscribing witness. Someone signed using Chinese characters with me as their Notary. And then there are the doctor scribble type signatures too. All of these are acceptable as signatures.
But, how do you know this is their genuine mark? Just check their drivers license and make sure the signature matches up. Sometimes signatures evolve as a person gets older. But the basic stroke style should be about the same. If it doesn’t match up, then you might be at risk notarizing that signature. The signature in Chinese characters I was a little apprehensive or as the Chinese say, “Zhao-ji” about, but I checked the ID and it matched.
In the old days in America, the upper class used to seal deals actually using seals, which is where the expression seems to have come from. They used candle was and a stamp of some sort to seal their business deals on pieces of paper. I saw that in a movie when someone sold a slave.
And in China some people use a square and very intricate seal with four characters on it sometimes written in their antiquated form. They are very beautiful and you can look them up online under the term, “traditional Chinese seal” and then look up images. They could be made from marble or wood, or many types of materials I guess.
But, once I notarized a movie producer from Israel. His signature was some sort of a line with a hook and a dot. He claims he signed million dollar deals with that signature. The only thing I had to say to him was, “You call that a signature?”
The NNA wrote in their blog (and I think this is bad advice by the way) that you should not fill in the he/she/they in California if the gender on the ID says “x”. However, the whole point of the he/she/they is to deter fraud, so by not filling it in, you are inviting fraud (but, without the RSVP card). You no longer know if the person is singular or plural, x-etera. And then asking people to sign next to the “x” presents some other sensitivity issues now doesn’t it. On the other hand, what might make sense is to put in handwriting at the bottom of the acknowledgment that this is a notarization for a single person of gender neutral (or unknown gender) association. That way you have documented the gender and quantity of people. Or, the state could come up with a form that says he/she/x/they which in today’s times makes a lot more “xense.”
When I was growing up there was generation x. Now there is gender-ation x. Boy have things changed. I never thought I would live to see this day. And I have no say in the matter. By the way, I self-identify as being a South African Bushman — is there a spot on the form for that?
It would not surprise me if some millennial came up to one of these transgender people and said, “I self-identify as being a Notary Public.” Do you have a commission? What’s that?
We can change our appearance, but can we change our chromosomes?
When I have a business problem, I ask, what would Donald Trump do?
When I have a love problem, I ask what our hero from back home in Massachusetts Mark Wahlberg would do?
But, what I have a notarial problem, (or when you do), when you ask your psychic to tune into the universe for answers, who should you channel?
How many notarizations must a man go through.
Before, you call him a man (or a “real notary”.)
How many seas must a sea dog swim (also referred to as a seal)
Before she basks on the beach
Yes, how many times must unpaid notary bills fly
Before those signing companies are forever banned?
The answer my friend is Ken Edelstein — the answer is Kenneth Edelstein.
However, Jeremy is writing this article not Ken. This article is inspired by a blog comment by someone who wanted to know what Ken would do in a particular situation.
So, please write your comments about how to handle particular situations, and in a few months, Ken might write some responses for you, but only if you ask nicely. And one more thing. Ken likes turkeys. I’ve never been able to figure that one out. Maybe it’s a New York thing. Hmmm.
Many people will plead with you to do something illegal like notarizing without a signature or without a clear signature. The signer might be close to death or in the hospital or in jail. You might hear an unbelievable good sob story told with tears coming out of somebody’s eyes. The question you should ask yourself is, how badly do you want to end up in jail?
If your goal as a notary is to please the client, find another profession. Your goal should be to please the government and uphold all applicable laws. If you have any time or patience after that, then you can be nice to the clients. You are a No-tary, not a Yes-tary and you can get thrown in jail. So, please learn how to deal with sob stories. I had to deal with one with a dying elderly Chinese man who communicated by squeezing your hand once for yes and twice for no. The squeezing was so unclear I told them to get an attorney and that I didn’t want to get in trouble. Squeezing hands is not a language I speak. South African clicking? Now that’s a different story (songs only and no conversation — sorry.)
Your job is to feel sorry for your government trying to keep law and order. So, choose your allies carefully based on what they can do to you and not on the $10 they might pay you. The End!
This is a tip from one of our most seasoned Notaries that we’ve ever had. What season? Hmmm. Autumn! She got a request for backdating. She says it is hard to get the request in writing.
If it were me I would tell them — just put the job specifications in writing and I will deal with it accordingly.
That way I am not incriminating myself, but I sure as hell will report their (&*#) to the Sec of State once I get that instruction sheet telling me what date to put in my journal and on the documents. That is fraud central.
So, yet another great tip from one of our great Notaries relayed to you by me… the messenger!
Can you scan loan docs back using a cell phone?
Yes, but should you? Notaries commented on forums that cell phone scans are unclear and unprofessional. If you want to get fired, then do what you like. But, for nice clear scans, use a professional machine or better yet, get a portable.
You can use whatever equipment you like so long as the output is clear. Maybe a higher end iPhone will do the trick… or not. I don’t know because I am not a technical guy. Or better yet, ask your employer and they can recommend what they want. The main thing is to not get fired. You are not assigned notary work for your convenience but for the convenience of others — something that notaries conveniently forget!
This question came from a blog comment.
The answer is that yes, you can mail a document to an Attorney to get notarized. However, the signer might need to be mailed as well, because you can’t notarize a signature on a document if there is no signer. The signer can sign in front of the Attorney if you like as well. What is more important is that the Attorney draft, recommend or review the document before it is signed.
Power of Attorney in Jail or Prison
The most common documents to be signed in a jail are title documents to cars, or power of attorney documents. Please be advised that a Notary may not draft or give advice on documents unless they are authorized to do so by also being an Attorney, or in a legal support profession that is authorized to give legal advice. I do know personally know who other than Attorneys can draft documents, so ask an Attorney.
Many banks have their own power of Attorney forms. So, please be sure you are having the inmate sign the correct power of attorney that will be acceptable to your bank or whomever the document custodian is.
As always, please consult an Attorney before you decide which type of legal document to use, or draft a legal document such as a Power of Attorney.