September 2010 - Notary Blog - Signing Tips, Marketing Tips, General Notary Advice -

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September 27, 2010

Pricing formulas for mobile notary work

This is an area that all traveling notaries need to be an expert on. When a hotel in Vegas rents rooms during the slow times, they charge around $80. But, when things speed up, the same room could be $300, right? Notaries need to think like this. If someone wants you to travel 20 miles in rush hour, charge one fee. If someone wants you to travel 20 miles to do a slow signing at the end of the month when time is in short supply, charge a higher fee. If the job is on a slow day when there is no traffic, you can charge less if they don’t like your regular price for traveling notary work.

What you charge is up to you, but here are the components you should use in a pricing formula for traveling notary work.

(1) Time spent
(2) How valuable the time is when the job is assigned, i.e. end of the month, time is more valuable as there are more jobs.
(3) e-docs, extra fee
(4) Unknown company? Charge a bit more to compensate you for your risk.
(5) Miles – charge based on how far the job is and how long it will take. Windy mountain roads take longer than open freeways, and Los Angeles traffic takes longer than Oklahoma traffic.
(6) Pickup and delivery of documents. Charge for your time.
(7) Does the company cancel a lot? Charge extra.
(8) Are you desperate for work? Charge less.
(9) Three or more signers on loan? Charge more.
(10) Eight or more notarized signatures or a really long loan package? Charge more.
(11) Company owes you more than a few hundred dollars? Turn the job down until you get paid.
(12) Company has a bad reputation for not paying notaries? Decline the job.

Your exact fee for each act is up to you, but the forementioned twelve points are what you need to think about. Here is what I recommend.

Basic signing: $75-$125. Adjust based on how busy you are.
E-documents: $25-50 per double set. Adjust based on how busy you are.
Pickups: $40 extra. Could include some waiting time.
Dropoffs: $30 extra. There is less waiting dropping off.
Reverse mortgages: $125-$175. These are time consuming and long.
Piggy backs: $100-$150. These are long, but not always time consuming for traveling notaries.
Travel fee for mobile notary work: $35-$75 depending on what time it is, how far you are going, etc. Jail, hospital, and late night jobs should be billed on the higher end of the scale, while close daytime jobs should be billed on the lower end.

Please read our hospital blog for pricing information about hospital jobs.

Please share your opinions.

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Hospital notary job tips from A to Z

Hospital notary jobs are a great source of extra income for signing agents. However, there are many pit falls and delays. Learn to do your homework so you can minimize the problems of this type of job. Hospital notarizations are always much more time consuming than regular notary jobs, so charge at least $50 travel fee and be prepared for signers and family members who do not have their ID’s and documents ready.

Call first to find out if the signer has ID

If you are doing a notary signing for someone in the hospital, chances are their family members will be calling you for the signing. The signer will generally be elderly, and elderly people who are not self-sufficient typically have expired identification. Find out what the signer’s identification is before you go to the signing. Have someone read the ID type, state of issue, number, and expiration date. The client will tell you false stories otherwise. They will say, “Oh, she has a passport”, and then when you get to the signing you will find that they only have a social security card, and can’t even find it.

Confirm the signing and identification

When you confirm the signing, confirm where the ID is, and make sure the person on the other end ofthe phone is HOLDING it, or you will never find it. Elderly people can never find their identification if they even have any. They will sit with you on the sofa and go through the contents of their entire wallet. You will see decades of history unravel before you, and will be kept waiting a long time. They will offer you every type of unacceptable ID known to mankind, and will offer you everything except for an ID that you can really use. Make sure the client who calls you knows where the ID is, or you will be sorry.

Does the signer understand the document?

Make sure the signing can explain the document to you, otherwise they shouldn’t be signing it. If the signer is so incapacitated that they can’t speak, then you should not notarize them.

Can the signer sign their own name?

Find out if the signer can sign their own name before going to the signing. Family members will always assure you that they can sign. But, medical situations change quickly, and once the notary arrives, the signer is often drugged or incapable of speaking coherently or signing anything. Have the family members make the signer sign something before you book the appointment. When the client calls you and you ask them to sample the elderly person’s signature, the elderly person will always be sleeping, so they can’t test their signing skills, but you will be assured that after you drive two hours to the signing, that the person will be able to sign properly.

Is the signer drugged?

Make sure that the nurses know not to drug the signer within eight hours of the signing. Make sure the family members of the signing are watching the signer at all times to make sure the nurses don’t slip them any valium, otherwise the signing is off.

Confirmation an hour before the signing – a list of questions to ask.

(1) Is the signer awake? Waking them up at the last minute takes a long time.

(2) Is the signer drugged? Valium and signings don’t mix.

(3) Can the signer sign their name? Have the family member test them out before you drive.

(4) Do you have the ID in your hand? Please read it to me again. Otherwise you’ll never find it.

(5) Do you have the document(s)? Please confirm you are holding them in your hand. Don’t let family members drag the person’s arm while the signer is grabbing the pen. If the daughter moves the signers arm around, then it is the daughter signing for the person. If the signer can’t sign on their own, the signing is off. You can do a signature by X if you know the procedure. However, the family members may use their arm as a fixed brace, so that the signer can have some physicall support for the signing. Make sure the family members’ arm doesn’t move around to assist the signing.

What should I charge?
Travel fees for hospital jobs should be anywhere from $40 to $80 which should include the first 30 minutes of waiting time.  Hospital notary jobs are risky, because the signer may not be able to sign — which means you might not get paid.  The signer could die before you arrive as well.  The families of the signers rarely have their paperwork and identification all in order which ensures you at least 20 minutes waiting time, even if you double check to make sure they are prepared.  Charge whatever your state allows per signature and a hefty travel fee IF YOUR STATE ALLOWS travel fees at all. Our forum documents roughly eight states with travel fee restrictions which puts a stranglehold on your whole livelihood.

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September 7, 2010

Everything you need to know about journals

Everything you need to know about notary journals.
Not all states require a journal of official notary acts. However, it is wise for notaries to keep a journal, as it is a record of all notary acts that they have ever done. A notary journal is a bound and sequential book containing records of all notary acts done by a particular notary. If a notary completes all the entry of a particular journal, they can start a second journal.

What goes in a journal entry?
(1) The date and time of the notarization
(2) Type of notarization
(3) Name of the document and document date (if there is one ),
(4) Name and address of the signer
(5) Type of identification ( personally known to the notary, credible witnesses, or ID document )
(6) State/Country, Serial #, and expiration date of the ID.
(7) Additional notes
(8) Signature of the signer
(9) Thumbprint of the signer
(10) Notary fee charged (if any)

The additional notes section is a part of the journal not understood by many notaries.
If credible witnesses are used, their signatures and ID’s should be recorded in the additional notes section.
If any unusual situations arise during the notarization, or there is anything unusual about the signer or the venue, that should be documented in the additional notes section. If travel fees are charged, that too can be documented in the additional notes section.

Journal thumbprints
Not all states require journal thumbprints. However, documents effecting real estate or large amounts of money should have a journal thumbprint accompany their notarization. A thumbprint is the only absolute way to identify a signer if fraud is suspected. ID cards and signatures can be forged, but a person’s thumbprint is unique to that individual. If a notarization is ever investigated due to suspicion as to the identity of the signer, a thumbprint can end the investigation cold in its tracks and possibly save the notary from having to appear in court.

Lock and key
The notary must keep their journal under lock and key. Bosses, co-workers, family members, and strangers alike are not allowed to inspect the notary journal without the presence of the notary. They are not allowed to do notarizations with the notary’s seal and journal under any circumstances.

Lost, stolen, or damaged journals
If your journal gets lost, stolen or damaged, contact your state’s notary division immediately and let them know what happened in writing.

What do you do with your journal when your commission is over?
If you don’t renew your commission, ask your state notary division what to do with your journal. It is most likely that they will need to be submitted to your county recorder’s office.

Where do I purchase a journal?
Notary journals can be purchased from the NNA, or from many other vendors on the internet. Some local office supply stores might have journals too, although that is not a predictable place to buy journals unless you are sure they have them.

How many journal entries do I create?
If one signer signs one document, create one journal entry. If one signer signs two notarized documents, that would necessitate two journal entries. If three signers each sign two notarized documents, thats six journal entries, all of which need to be signed by the corresponding signer.

Where do I keep my journal when I’m not using it?
Keep it under lock and key. You can have a notary carry all bag with a mini-lock, or keep it locked in a desk drawer to which only you have the key. Nobody else should ever be able to access your journal

What if someone has an inquiry about a particular journal entry?
Just ask them what the date of the notarization was and the name of the signer, and look it up in your journal. If you have several journals in your archives, you may have to go through your archives. You can make a copy of the journal entry and send it to the person making the inquiry, but hide information pertaining to notarizations of other individuals on that same page.

(1) A journal entry must include: time & date, type of notarization, doc name, name & address of signer…
(2) Journals must be kept under lock & key and returned to the county clerk at the end of your commission.
(3) Learn the finer points of journal entries: where credible witnesses sign, thumbprints & notes.
(4) Everything you need to know about journals, but were afraid to ask.

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