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

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December 25, 2010

e-Documents Definition

Filed under: Signing Tips — Tags: , , , — admin @ 9:42 am

e-document definition 
 Documents that are sent electronically to the signing agent are called e-documents. There are a number of different common viewers necessary to view and print e-documents. Typically, a notary will receive documents and immediately need to print them and then go out to complete the signing with the borrowers. E-documents are typically sent at the last minute. Notaries typically charge extra to print out e-documents as it takes time, paper, and creates wear and tear on their toner or ink cartridge. E-documents have nothing to do with e-notarizations. An e-notarization is done purely online while an e-document signing is done with physical documents face to face with the borrower. E-signings are done with some of the documents being signed online. E-document signings are generally completed after the documents have been printed.

Issues with e-documents include the fact that a notary might have to go all the way home just to print documents.  Many companies send documents at the last minute and there are sometimes delays that add to the headache of doing a signing.  Some of our smarter notaries have mobile offices so they can print on the road while others have a kinko’s account so they can find a kinko’s near where they currently are to print documents on the run.


December 24, 2010

Notary Public: Just Say No #3

Just say no 3 
Notaries need to know what to do and what not to do.  Although rules change across state lines, here are some basic rules to think about.
Staples anyone?
Many states require that the notary certificate be attached to the document.  Many companies will get mad at you for stapling their deed of trust together. But pages can easily be switched without a staple.  Attach is one particular formal way of saying staple. There doesn’t seem to be any other way to “attach” a certificate to a document.
Leaving loose certificates
Once again, certificates can not be sent without the document they correspond to.  If you notarize a document, the certificate wording should either be embedded in the document, or on an “attached” form.  If you are asked to send another “Jurat” (by this, people really might mean acknolwedgment certificate) in the mail.  You need to ask the company to send the document so you can attach it.  They they say, “Oh, come on”.  Tell them that if they want their “jurat” you need the original document otherwise they could attach it to anything.
New pages in a document?
If a signer had a document notarized and has a new page that they want notarized, you need to notarize the document all over again despite their whining.   You can not notarize individual pages of a multi-page document.
Notarizing a photograph?
You can not notarize a photograph.  If you have a document regarding a photograph, you can staple the photo to the document and notarize the document.  You could even put an embosser halfway through the photo with the other half going through the document as its attached to the document.
Notarizing before the signer signs?
Don’t save time by filling out the notary forms before the signer shows up.  If you affix your notarial seal before the signer has signed the document and your journal, you have committed a crime.  Just wait until all the other necessary steps are complete and then fill out the wording and affix your seal.
Beneficial interest?
If you are mentioned in a document, or are closely related to a person who is mentioned in a document, that can constitute beneficial interest.  If you derive a benefit from a document being signed, that is definately beneficial interest.  One of our notaries informs us that if you only get paid as a notary if a particular document gets signed, then you have beneficial interest.  Get your travel fees at the door before you figure out if you are doing to notarize a document.  If the ID is not good, or the signer is drugged at a hospital, you will feel motivated to try to find a way to notarize that person if you haven’t been paid. That is actually a very common type of beneficial conflict of interest that invovles notaries on a daily basis.
Notarizing yourself?
Don’t notarize yourself. You can not notarize your own signature no matter what in any state.  The whole purpose of a notary is that they verify other people’s signatures.

(1) It is illegal to notarize something without making sure the certificate is attached!
(2) If you are adding a new page to a document, do you need to notarize the whole thing all over again?
(3) Some notaries save time by notarizing before the signer signs! This is illegal!

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December 19, 2010

e-Documents Information and Discussion

Filed under: Technical & Legal — Tags: , , , — admin @ 10:17 am

Should you always use legal paper for e-docs?
This topic started as a forum post about e-documents.  It was so popular and got so many responses, that I’m making it into a blog entry.
Many notaries have dual tray laser printers, while others have a single tray printer. Is it bad to use all legal size paper for printing loan documents while only some of the documents need to be on legal sized paper? Has anyone gotten complaints for using the wrong sized paper?

Additional reading about legal sized paper:
Commentary from notaries 

It is advisable to use legal paper if you dont have a dual tray printer. This way you dont cut off any of the legal size docs. The other problem with this option is that you will spend more on legal size paper than letter size paper. It is way more cost effective as well as more professional on your part with the companies you work for to use a dual tray. It is just best in the long run to just save and get a dual tray. Once it is set up it is a dream to print loan doc’s. Keep in mind if you dont have the money just yet it is still ok to print on legal size paper. Most companies usually dont mind.

Yes, printing on all legal may be a problem in some jurisdictions. Pinellas county (FL), for example, has switched to ALL letter size. That means the recordable documents, e.g., deeds and mortgages, must be printed on letter size paper. Otherwise there may be additional costs or the recording request may be rejected. Many other jurisdictions are starting the switch as well.  Some title companies and lenders are aware of this situation and may separate the recordables into another file so it can be easily printed on letter paper.
If a signing agent cannot print both sizes, then printing on all legal would be the preferred size. However, I’ve noticed it more often now that companies are asking if we have dual tray printing capabilities. So, not being able to support mixed-size printing may cause a loss in assignments, but I don’t think it’s too great a problem yet.
The problem with that is if the document is printed in the center of the page, then it is difficult to cut both tops and bottoms of the pages. Most of the time when that happens it is because one of two issues: (1) The documents are letter size but scanned to legal size – which means there is nothing the signing agent can do about it; and (2) the signing agent’s printer settings may be incorrect – which is something that can be fixed in many cases.

Agree, dual-tray is what a true professional would use. There really isn’t that much investment to make when you start-up a signing agent business, and at least one good work-horse laser printer with the ability to print letter & legal is a pretty slim minimum, IMHO.
MoneyMan TX
I have had some companies want all letter sized, others state any size, and others state print exactly as scanned in (letter or legal). Printing all legal can also create issues with certain lenders, I know it did when I was a loan officer.

Lisa T
A couple of times, I’ve been sent the edocs for a signing where the files were separated, one was letter size and the other legal size. I have two laser printers so I can load one with legal paper and print on that laser printer while at the same time printing the letter size file on the other printer.

I don’t know for sure, but I would guess that a TC should have a paper cutter and just cut down the specific legal size papers down to letter size. Who can tell the difference?
In a word: No. Print to size if you can. Otherwise you default to legal. My experience has been that there are a very few companies who will include the instructions to either use all letter or all legal. Although, previous posters are correct, too.

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December 18, 2010

Notary Etiquette from A to Z

Notary etiquette from A-Z

Here are some basic rules of notary etiquette to keep you out of trouble and on good terms with your clients.

Don’t park in the driveway?
But, that is what driveways are for. They are for parking in. Wrong! They are for the borrower to park in, but NOT for you to park in without permission. You could be taking someone’s spot, or blocking someone. You might be leaking coolant on their driveway too. If there is a snowstorm and a snow plow will destroy your car, or if there is nowhere else to park, then ask to park in their driveway. Most people will not mind if you park in their driveway, but a few will mind.

Introduce yourself at the door.
Its good to have a pre-canned speech to give at the door. Let the borrowers know your full name, and that you will be assisting and supervising (facilitating) the signing of their loan. Let them know that your job is to introduce the documents and figures in their loan, but not to actually explain any of the concepts particular to their loan. Let the borrowers know that the lender is the only one qualified to answer specific questions about their loan.

Confirm the signing
Its polite for the notary to call the borrowers and confirm when they will be coming, and especially who is to show up at the signing. If Aunt Matilda is on the loan documents, she needs to cancel that visit to the hair salon and be at the signing.

Don’t make unpleasant remarks
Don’t make negative remarks about anyone regardless of whether they are associated with the loan or not.

Don’t discuss politics
Stick to talking about neutral topics like traffic and weather. Politics can run people the wrong way. Freedom of speech does not apply to notaries on the job. You have more freedom of speech in Moscow than on a signing. Talking about the wrong subject matter can get you off of a signing companies list, and then you lose work.

Speak clearly
A notary who mumbles, or speaks incoherently will not be a favorite with anyone. People need you to enunciate on the phone and in person.

Don’t rush the borrowers
Unless you agree on the length of your signing ahead of time, its rude to rush the borrowers. If you are having a night with ten signings and you will be late to all of the rest of the signings, then you are in a pinch. If you legitimately have to leave at a certain time, you can mention that you have to leave at 8pm, and that they are welcome to read their borrower’s copies for the next 72 hours and cancel the loan if they are not happy with any of the terms or figures.


December 10, 2010

Meeting Clients at a Jail

Meeting at jail

I have done many jail notaries, and one of the biggest challenges is meeting the client. The inmate is never the client. They are locked up and don’t have phone access. The signer’s girlfriend, attorney, or mother is generally the client. The problem is that when doing a prison notary job, you deal with the criminal class, they are not always so reliable. Meeting someone at a jail is not so easy. Some clients just don’t show up which is why you should not get in your car to go to the jail until you have received a confirmation call.

If the client doesn’t have a cell phone, I would strongly consider not going to the job, since you won’t be able to reach them if you need to. Of the clients that do show up, finding them is not so easy. One client wanted to meet me at the door to the jail. He always goes in the back, and I always go in the front. I waited for an hour at the front door and he waited near the back door to the waiting room. If you are going to meet at a door, you better specify the door. There is the door to the jail near the street, the door to the waiting room, side doors, and many other doors. Its even possible to be at the wrong jail. There are three jails in Los Angeles within two minutes walking of each other. Maybe its better to meet at Denny’s.

I met many individuals at the parking lot where the Ethiopian attendant was. It was easy. It was on a particular intersection, and nobody else was there — except the Ethiopian guys who work there and all were on a first name basis with me. Another solution was to meet at the cash register at Dennies. There is only one register, so that makes it easy.

The main thing to remember
You need to remember that  it’s not where you meet, its how you identify exactly where you are meeting. This is especially true if you go to a new location that you are not familiar with. Jails are complicated. There is one place to park, and you have to find the correct entrance, and then know which hallway to go down.

The next problem is waiting.
You might be at the jail all day. You could have a lock down, an inmate who was moved to a different cell, moved to a different jail, or who was not identified correctly. The guards might just be slow that day. Anything is possible. If you don’t agree ahead of time how much you charge for excess waiting, you might wait all day without pay.

Identification is another problem.
The inmate’s bracelet is not an acceptable notary ID. Make sure the client who meets you has a current ID that is acceptable in your state, or else it might be a very short notarization. I have used credible witnesses many times in jails too, but in California we need two of them, so make sure you have the right amount of witnesses.

Travel fee up front?
Since there are so many difficulties with jails and jail signings, you might get the travel portion of your fee up front. Then, if there is a problem getting to the signer, or identifying them, you get paid for your trouble instead of having a total loss. You should charge a generous amount for jail signings, because you will get stiffed 10-25% of the time, so be prepared for the realities of life.


December 5, 2010

Arizona Notary Laws vs. Other States

Arizona notary law and laws that vary from state to state. 
It’s difficult to post about notary procedure on Twitter and Facebook.  No matter how universal a notary law seems, it can differ across state boundaries and the interpretation can differ among individuals too.
Credible witnesses
Arizona notary law specifies the term, “Credible person” , which is a way of saying credible identifying witness.  In Arizona, one credible witness who knows the notary as well as knowing the signer may be used to identify the signer.  Different states have different rules for credible witnesses. 90% of states allow them, but some states allow two witnesses who the notary doesn’t know, while others allow only one. California allows one CW if the notary knows them OR two if the notary doesn’t know them.
Foreign language signers
An Arizona notary must be able to communicate directly with the signer. Many other states have this same rule.  But, there are a few states where an interpreter may be used between the notary and the signer. 
There are a few states where notaries can get a special credential such as Justice of the Peace and perform marriages.  An Arizona notary public unfortunately can not perform a marriage — at least not one that would be legally binding. So, forever hold your peace!
Appear before?
In Arizona’s electronic notary rules for electric notaries (which is a separate office from a regular Arizona notary), there USED TO BE conditions where the  signer can be notarized without appearing before the notary for that particular signature.  Read our blog about Arizona electronic signatures for details.  This rule has been changed and signers must appear before the notary according to

Click here
Arizona Notary Bond?
Arizona notary bonds must only be for $5000.  Most other states require a larger bond than that.  In California, the bond must be $15,000 for example.
Seals and journals
An Arizona notary must use a seal and journal.  This seems fairly elementary, but many states do not require the use of both a seal and a journal. 
Marriage or adoption?
Arizona notary law prohibits notarizing for anyone who you are married to or related to by adoption.
Legal advice?
An Arizona notary public should not give legal advice and not prepare documents for clients.  Some states prohibit the preparation of legal documents only, while AZ prohibits the preparation of any document. The prohibition of notaries from giving legal advice is standard across the board though.
An Arizona notary commission’s term is four years.   A four year term is very common, although the number of years can really vary from state to state.

Please visit our Arizona Notary page!


December 3, 2010

Pets at Signings

Filed under: Pets at Signings — Tags: , — admin @ 8:49 am

Pets at Notary Signings

Here are some of my favorite stories about pets at signings from our notary forum. The name of the author will be included with each post if we have the name in our records

30 Cats & Their Stench
I just did a Reverse Mortgage app….at a house that had 30 PLUS cats. They were friendly and sweet…but I almost died from the smell of the house. I have yet to figure out how all the litter boxes could be clean, the house be spotless and the house REEK. Needless to say, that app being approved is questionable. I had to go home, take a shower and wash everything I wore. – 13442

Pray For Homeless Pets
Pray for the many pets that will be turned over to animal shelters, or worse, due to the high volume of foreclosures. I encourage everyone to adopt from an animal shelter and to give generously to support animal welfare. – n/a

The Cat Will Assess Your Personality
Usually, the pets are glad to see me, as if I’m there to visit them. One signer said her cat likes me, I must be a nice lady. She said her cat either immediately likes or dislikes a stranger entering her home. That’s a great way to tell someone’s disposition and the cat could alert her to someone dangerous, like if she hires a handyman and the cat acts up – that person could be dangerous. – Lisa T

A Dying Little Dog
I had a signing a few years back where an adorable little dog (shit-su p??) was very ill and dying of cancer. He only had days to live. So very sad. But when I came in the house he actually got up, wagged his little tail and sat by me for the entire time. The owners were in awe and disbelief because he had not gotten up for weeks. What an honor he bestowed on me. I cried like a baby. – crtowles

Dogs On The Couch With The Notary
everal years ago I did a Refi in CA. The owners had one older dog and a new pup, I say new pup because it was taken from its mother to soon. The older dog really didnt care for its new room mate so she didnt go near it. While trying to get through the signing the new pup was crying up a storm , I couldnt handle it so I got up, picked up the pup (maybe 4 weeks old) placed it in my lap and proceeded with the closing.
The signers were surprised #1 the pup quit crying and #2 the older dog jumped up on the couch I was sitting on and layed next to me and placed her head in my lap just enough to touch the new pup.
The world was all right again. I was there for nearly 2 hours one hour for the closing and the 2nd hr to help the signers understand the process of the new and old dogs. what was really great was a few months later they called to tell me the dogs were getting along great and neither dog went any where without the other. Needless to say it brought tears to my eyes. – tfarmer

Bringing Pet Treats
Pets can be some of the funniest topics of conversation during signings. As a rule of thumb, I bring pet treats. (Do not ever give a treat to a pet without borrower permission as some pets may be allergic to your treats). – legal eagle

One time, I did a signing where there were two cats and a dog. I keep the treats in my work bag which animals seem to have a blast with. During the signing I hear a little commotion in the other room. I looked up to see a cat with a half eaten dog biscuit he got out of my bag. The cat was literally “tossing the cookie” in the air.

I also have had cats literally climb into my work bag and take a nap. Since I tend to do six signings in one day, my work bag can get heavy. I make it a practice now to check and be sure that there are no pets in my bag.

5 Huge Dogs
I had to notarize for a couple who had 5 HUGE dogs and 3 super hyper kids, that were taller than me, mind you I’m only 4′ 11″ (in high heels! lol ), before I even rang the door bell, I knew it was going to be a challenging job, there were toys all over the front yard, and of course there was a HUGE gate, that I had to get on a tippy toes in order to reach the latch, I walked to the front door, and sure enough, as soon as one of the kids answered one of their huge dogs decided to jump on me and smell me!! to get to know me of course! lol, oh man, I’m cracking up just remembering! The family was so friendly and full of love, it was not a bad experience at all after I shared all my extra pens and paper with the kids.. they were so sweet they even took my business cards and handed them out to their friends and colleagues, I really appreciate it that! All in a notary’s day’s work!! 🙂 – Facebook Member

Cats & Snakes — oh my!
As I walked to the door I knew it was meets me asks if I am allergic to cats..Um no. Good she said she has 40 and we go in..She turns & asks what about snakes? Um NO..We walk in and cats and snakes..big ones all in and out of cages all over the place..My lungs hurt from the stench..Got out in a big hurry! Yuk! – Facebook Member


December 1, 2010

Bilingual Notaries – How Often Are They Needed?

Bilingual Notaries – How Often Are They Needed?
This topic started off as a forum post. It is the most popular post in our tips section, but nobody replied to it. I was hoping for one reply in Spanish and another in Armenian, but no such luck for me.

123notary has hundreds of bilinguals
There are many bilingual notaries speaking every conceivable language from Amharic to Zulu. However, Spanish is by far the most common second language in the United States. Some notaries are native speakers of their “second” language, while others have varying degrees of competency.

Are you really bilingual?
If you want to advertise yourself as bilingual, you should be able to handle a signing purely in your second language. Even if you are not perfect and have to look up a word here or there, the ability to converse easily is the main point. The question — are you bilingual ENOUGH? is always a serious question. Notaries put “Some Spanish” in their language field all the time. Is some Spanish enough Spanish? If you can talk your way through the loan then its enough. But, please just put language names in the language field. Nobody uses our language filter to look up the language “Some Spanish”, or “Limited Spanish”. Either you can cut it or you can’t as a bilingual notary.

Test your bilingual notary
If you are hiring a notary for a bilingual signing, it is recommended to talk to them over the phone in the language they claim as their second to test them out. See how they handle basic conversation, and then throw a few loan signing technical terms at them to see how they function with specialized vocabulary.

Bilinguals are not always necessary
Most people in the United States who are getting a loan speak English, even if that is not their mother tongue. If you are notarizing documents for a family from Iran, knowing Farsi might make you popular with them (if you speak it correctly enough), but it won’t be so necessary as they will most likely speak English or have someone present who speaks English.

When do you really need one?
It’s when the signers really don’t know English that you need a bilingual notary. Bilingual notaries get a bit more business than they would if they didn’t have bilingual capabilities. However, if you are in an area where lots of borrowers speak only Spanish and there are no other bilingual signers around, you might get endless business due to your linguistic attributes which become a valuable commodity. How much extra business a bilingual signer gets is hard to say, but they really come in handy when you really need them.

Chinese anyone?
Chinese is a language that throws everyone. There are so many dialects and sub-dialects that a notary needs to specify which dialects they speak. I recommend putting this type of language in the language field: Chinese, Mandarin, Mandarin Chinese. This way, whatever language search term the browser types into the box, they will be sure to find your dialect and also have a correct idea of what you speak. Merely saying “Chinese” doesn’t cut it because there are so many Cantonese speakers in the United States, that many of them regard Cantonese dialect as being just “Chinese”. The governments of both Taiwan (ROC), and China (PRC) both use Mandarin as their standard and official language. The accent is quite different in both countries, but the language is fundamentally the same. Both China and Taiwan have regional dialects too. Taiwan has about eight different variations on their Min-nan-yu that varies from county to county, not to mention a large minority of Hakka speakers who speak a fairly different Southern Chinese dialect. Mainland China has 13 dialect groups with many subdialects that are often not mutually intelligible. Additionally, there are many ways to say Mandarin in Chinese:

(1) Guo-yu (country language – Taiwanese usage),
(2) Hua-yu (Chinese language)
(3) Zhong-guo-hua (Chinese language)
(4) Han-yu ( The language of the Han ethnic group. The name Han is from the Han dynasty and Chinese people refer to themselves as Han people.)
(5) Pu-tong-hua (the common people’s language – used in Communist China)

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