January 2011 - Notary Blog - Signing Tips, Marketing Tips, General Notary Advice - 123notary.com

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January 31, 2011

State specific – strange and critical rules

Bizarre facts and things to watch out for in these states!

This blog entry will briefly discuss some bizarre rules effecting Arizona notaries, Georgia notaries, Florida notaries, Notaries in South Carolina, Virginia notaries, and Washington notaries (in Washington State, not DC).  I hope you find it as interesting as I do! 
The subject of travel fees is a dismal topic for Arizona notaries.  Many Arizona notaries in this state can not make a living doing mobile notary work while obeying the law which only allows a small rate per mile for travel fees.  There is a lot of information on this topic in our forum to read about.  The restrictions on travel fees are disasterous for elderly and bedridden people who can’t go to a notary.  People in convelescent homes can’t get their papers notarized and notaries can’t make a living.  Many notaries do charge a substantial travel fee, and nobody has had their commission revoked yet in AZ, but eventually something could happen.  http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=4231
This is nothing to be afraid about, but really bizarre. An AR notary applicant will
be mailed three originals of their notary certificate and oath forms. AR notary rules can be a little odd at times.
To become a notary in Florida, you must be a Florida resident. However, Florida residents can become Alabama or Georgia notaries. BTW… Georgia notaries may only practice in the state of Georgia.  A Notary in Florida may solemnize a marriage.  But, without experience in this sensitive type of work, how well would a notary handle a marriage?  Another strange rule is that Florida notaries get paid by the stamp, and not per signature when doing acknowledgments.
Be careful if you are an Illinois notary public, there are some new laws that effect only Cook county regarding real estate notarizations.  http://blog.123notary.com/?tag=illinois-notary-laws.  Additionally, an IL notary may only charge $1 per acknowledged signature!  How does anyone make a living at this?
South Carolina
Non-attorney notaries in South Carolina are prohibited from doing loan signings unless there is telephone presence from an attorney.  The irony is that our directory has many notaries in South Carolina who pay their renewal fee each year. If you are a notary in South Carolina, you can still do other non-loan types of notarizations for the most part. Georgia notaries are faced with a similar situation.
Here is a very odd rule:  All Virginia notaries are notaries at-large & have the authority to perform all notarial acts anywhere within the Commonwealth of Virginia. Virginia notaries have limited powers in performing notarial acts
outside of the Commonwealth of Virginia.  However, documents notarized
outside of the Commonwealth by Virginia notaries must be must
be recorded in Virginia.
Washington State
This is a nitpicky rule. But, the notary and client must agree upon the travel fee beforehand.  This is stipulated by law in Washington State, so Washington notaries need to be careful to have their verbal agreements clear.  Additionally, Washington notaries may notarize their spouse’s signature.


January 28, 2011

A tale of four notaries in hospitals

 A tale of four notaries and their adventures at hospitals.
Hospital notarizations are very tricky and there is a lot that can go wrong. We have several resource pages regarding hospital notarizations to steer notaries away from pitfalls.  The characters in this story are NOT based on real characters, but each one of them has either a single attitude or attribute that is similar to a real person that I am acquainted with.  This silly story will show how each notary fared and how their way of thinking worked in the long run.  The various notaries include an Arkansas notary, an Illinois notary, a Florida notary, and a Pennsylvania notary public.
(1) Jeremy Blunt, a notary in Arkansas was called to do a hospital notarization in Little Rock on the following day.  Jeremy, with his blunt, but thorough manner told them, “Make sure to tell the nurses not to drug the patient within eight hours of the signing.”.  The caregiver, who was happy to have a thorough notary, overlooked Jeremy’s blunt manner and was very willing to coordinate a temporary lapse in morphine, so that the signer (an elderly relative) would be able to sign the papers.  Jeremy called an hour before the signing to have the caregiver read the ID information to him, and had the caregiver verify that the signer had not been drugged recently, was awake and able to conversate, and wouldn’t be drugged until after the notarization, and that the nurses had been informed.  The caregiver was standing next to the bedridden signer to MAKE SURE that no intravenus drugs were given.
Jeremy arrives at the signing with his notary bag, records the ID in his journal, gets a signature in his journal and the document(s), fills out the certificate form(s), stamps them, affixes his official Arkansas notary seal, staples the documents together, and is done.  Jeremy gets his fee, thanks everyone in a very blunt way, and leaves.  The signers say, “That Jeremy gets the job done — he’s a bit blunt, but polite, and he saved our rear ends big time!!!  That OTHER notary let us down.  Thank god for good notaries!”
(2) Linda Liberty, a notary in Illinois was called to do a hospital notarization in Chicago the following day.  Since she had a strict policy of not butting into anyone’s medical business, not asking questions, and minding her own business, she omitted to ask the caregiver if the signer was on medication.  After, all thats NONE OF MY BUSINESS!  The next day, she gets to the hospital, the caregiver says, “Thank you for coming”.  Linda politely says, “Its my pleasure to serve the public wholeheartedly”.  Linda goes to the hospital room where the patient / signer is.  The patient is high on morphine and in a stupor, barely able to keep his eyes open. Linda says, “Sorry, but according to Illinois notary laws, I am not authorized to notarize someone who is not capable of thinking or communicating coherently.  I can not notarize this person in this condition, ID or no ID.  The caregiver (the daughter of the signer) said, gee, thats too bad.  Linda says, my travel fee is $60 for hospitals please.  The daughter says, “BUT, YOU DIDN”T DO ANYTHING”.  Linda Liberty says, “Excuse me, but I drove an hour and a half here in traffic, paid a toll for the bridge, sat here talking to you for twenty minutes, paid $15 for gas, and have an hour drive home. I did quite a bit and I want to get paid!!!”  The daughter said, sorry, but we can not pay you.  We are very sorry.
(3) Ralph Machiavelli, a notary in Florida (no relation to Niccolo… at least not by blood), got a call to do a signing of a power of attorney in a hospital in Tampa.  The power of attorney would be for the signer’s son in law to take over all of his banking and real estate transactions. Ralph had lots of experience and thought ahead.  This Florida notary public had had his fingers burned a few times and knew the techniques for keeping out of trouble and getting paid.  Ralph told the client that he collects a $75 travel fee at the door BEFORE he sees the signer.  He, then charges $10 per for stamp for an acknowledged signature which is the maximum allowed fee in Florida.  The son in law of the signer agreed, and they set the appointment for the next day at 10am.
Ralph gets to the appointment.  Collects his travel fee in CASH, and says, “Thank you very much”.  Lets see the signer now.  The two of them proceed to walk down the long corridor, around some bends, up an elevator, down another corridor, past a nurse station, to the left, to the right, and then into a room.  They found the signer was drugged, sleeping, and in no condition to sign or even talk.  The son in law tried to wake the signer up.  The signer eventually woke up after twenty minutes of blinking and saying, “mmmmmmm?”.   Ralph said, can you ask dad to sign this form?  The son in law said, I’ll try.  After twenty additional minutes of wasting time (a result of the medication), the son in law said, its no use, they drugged him this morning.  Maybe I have my $75 back?  Ralph says, “I’m sorry, but in addition to traveling, I spent forty minutes here waiting for your signer to sign something.  This was a complete waste of time.  Next time please make sure your dad is ready to sign at the appointed time. That means…. NO DRUGS”.  Ralph returns home with his money.  He pleasures himself with a nice baby back rib dinner, and then returns home.
(4) Sharisse Washington, Pennsylvania Notary Public at large, doesn’t stand for this type of nonsense or bluntness that happened in the above three stories.  She has thirty years of experience, and carries a handheld database of how to handle each situation with all its variations and pitfalls.  Sharisse minds her p’s and q’s, dots her i’s and crosses her t’s.  She informs everybody in a polite way, and doesn’t put herself in a position that anything will go wrong either.   This notary in Pennsylvania gets a call to go to a Philadelphia hospital to do a notarization the next day.  She politely asks the client if they have an ID for the signer.  She asks if they could read the ID to her, so that she can verify that they have the ID, and that its current.  She asks if the patient EVER recieves medication or is likely to receive it during the day of the signing. She asks if its possible that they could provide a “WINDOW OF TIME”, where they could be sure that the signer wasn’t going to be drugged.  She asks what the name and type of the document is.  She asks if it is in their possession and if they can read the document to her (so, she can verify that they really have it).  After she asks all of the questions on her database’s check list, the cordially thanks the client for answering her questions and assures them that she will be at the hospital lobby at 10am the following day. 
This Pennsylvania Notary calls at 9am to verify that they have the identification handy and that the signer is not drugged. Sharisse shows up at the hospital at 9:55 just to be on the safe side.  The client is there, thanks her for being early.  They go up to the room.  The signer is awake, sober, and conversational.  The signer signs the document and journal. Its a bit if a struggle being old and being weak, but the signer does it… because she is sober and awake… and sober…not drugged.   Sharisse does all of the remaining necessary paperwork, thanks everybody, collects her fee, and is off to her next appointment which she allowed a sufficient amount of time to get to.
Now that you have read how each of these four notaries handled a hospital job, its up to you to decide how you want to handle this type of job. Remember, that hospital and jail notary jobs and many more potential pitfalls and things that can go wrong than a regular office or home notary job.  Do your homework, be polite and stay out of trouble, and that way, you will be able to make a living. Otherwise, it is you who will be sorry.

You might also like:

Power of Attorney in a nursing home

Do you like your job? A story of being kept waiting forever at a hospital.


January 8, 2011

Credible Witnesses from A to Z

Credible Witnesses from A to Z
What is a credible witness?
A credible witness, “CW”, or credible identifying witness is someone who can identify a signer at a notary signing.  The credible witness must know the signer and must know the signer’s name.  The witness should know the signer by having met many times in the past through different individuals.  Some states require that the credible witness always knows the notary as well, to create a chain of relationships, while others only require that the credible witness knows the notary if only one credible witness is used.  The credible witness should be an impartial party who does not have beneficial interest in the document
Which states allow the use of credible witnesses?
Many states allow credible witnesses, and we documented these states on a forum post
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=4047.  To summarize: Virginia is a state that does not allow credible witnesses.  Most other states that we have information about do allow credible witnesses.
States that allow 1 Credible Witness
How many credible witnesses do you need to use in various states? What are the credible witness rules?
Arizona, Ohio, Pennsylvania and several other states allow the use of one CW that must be known to the notary, and must know the signer. 
States that allow 1 or 2 Credible Witnesses
California, Florida, and Georgia, among other states, allow the use of one CW if the witness is known to the notary and knows the signer; or two CW’s if the notary doesn’t know either of the witnesses.  These states are unique in that they offer a choice of using one or two credible witnesses.
States that allow 2 Credible Witnesses
Tennessee and Missouri allow the use of two credible witnesses to identify a signer.
Credible Witness Rules can vary from state to state, but as a general rule, you should not use a credible witness unless there is no identification available.  In many cases, the identification available will have a different name variation on it, making it unacceptable to be used when signing documents that have a longer, or different name variation. Whether or not its legal to use credible witnesses in this type of situation is something to look up in your state’s notary manual.
The credible witness must SIGN the notary’s journal in California. Rules vary from state to state, so be knowledgeable about your particular state’s rules. The CW must raise their right hand and swear to the identity of the signer.  The CW must also have acceptable identification.  It is wise for the notary to record the CW’s address, ID#, and phone number in their journal. 
Common Uses
If a notary is doing a jail signing, inmates never have acceptable ID on them unless a visitor brings it.  When doing a jail signing, an attorney, relative, or friend of the inmate will normally meet you. Make sure they are going to bring the inmate’s ID and that the ID is current and state issued.
Hospital signings involve signers who are too elderly to drive in many instances.  These folks often don’t have current identification making the use of CW’s necessary.
If you notarize someone who lost their ID, or doesn’t have one becase they don’t drive, you might need credible witnesses. 
If the name variation on the document is slightly different from the name on the ID, you might check your state notary manual to see if using a credible witness in this situation is allowed.
A few notaries on our Facebook network have pointed out that many loan signings should not be done using credible witnesses.  One notary in Pennsylvania stated that for loans that require USA Patriot Act ID verification, credible witnesses should not be used.  Another notary in Florida points out that the CW is swearing to the fact that the signer does not have the acceptable identification documents and that it is difficult or impossible to find such documents.

Credible Witness Notary
There is no such thing as a credible witness notary, however you can be a notary that uses credible witnesses.  Just make sure you know how many credible witnesses to use.
After being a notary public in California for eight years, I found that 15% of my signings would not have been possible without the use of credible witnesses, among other “Plan B” type procedures.  Many notaries try to get through their career learning as little as possible about what they need to know to get the job done.  You will be letting future clients down if you are not an expert at credible witness procedures for your particular state.  You could be letting countless clients go high and dry if you don’t know this procedure. Please consult your state’s notary manual to learn exactly what all of the CW requirements (credible witness notary rules) are for your state.

You might also like:

Glossary entry: Credible Witness

Forum string: Credible Witnesses – the basics

Can a notary be a witness?


January 6, 2011

Are you a man or a mouse?

Filed under: General Articles — Tags: , , — admin @ 12:11 am

Does your Fedex guy knock like a man or a mouse?
Fedex is the most wonderful company — I would never knock them. But, I have always had the worst knocking and pricing problems with them.  First of all, their rates used to be reasonable in the old days.  But, with the price of oil going up, so has the price of Fedex.  Their drivers are generally good, but there are little things that can go wrong.  When you have a regular driver who comes daily and knows you, all is generally well.  But, the minute you get a replacement driver, then trouble could arrive at your front door.  This story is from 2004 in Los Angeles, CA.
Knock loud!
I trained my driver to knock loud, so I could have them pick up my daily inundation of boxes.  Once in a while, they had something for me too. 
If someone delivers documents to me, and I can’t hear them knock, then I don’t get the documents, and can’t do the signing.  In such a case, I would have to wait for the truck to get back to the office in the evening and pick up my package by hand, or call and request a redelivery attempt.  Such a pain, that I have a mailbox at a staffed MBE store.  That solved that problem except for late Saturday deliveries.
In 2004, I had outgoing stuff every day. I would have to spend 30 minutes loading my car and taking them to the nearest Kinko’s as a daily ritual.   After some phone calls to fedex, explaining how I need the verbiage, “KNOCK LOUD” to be in the notes section of my file, and leaving some signs left for the driver — I thought I had trained them.  Finally, I had gotten the driver to knock really loud.  My roommates complained about the daily noise abuse, but, I always got my packages picked up — assuming someone was here when the driver came. 
The Replacement
Then, the replacement came and didn’t knock loud, and I didn’t get my pickup or delivery. I had to go to Fedex and pick it up by hand in the evening after being put on hold for 20 minutes talking to a robot.  What a pain. I kept getting different drivers every day and it didn’t end!  Most of the reason I needed them was to pick up many become a California notary course packages that were selling like hot cakes.  I would have to take this huge cluster of clunky boxes to Fedex / Kinko’s myself if they didn’t come.  Sometimes it took two trips to get all of those boxes in the car.
The Sign
Finally, my roommate couldn’t take it anymore. She tried to get me to put a doorbell that would ring in my room.  I said that if the driver isn’t trained to ring the doorbell, its as good as not being there. They will still knock like a mouse.   
I had gotten around the delivery problem by taking packages myself to a local Los Angeles Kinko’s and having my mail boxes place handle incoming.  But, what about supplies?  Fedex would only deliver these to my apartment, and refused to drop them at any other address in Los Angeles.  Supplies included Fedex emvelopes, shipping forms, etc.
     So, knocking was still an issue.  I decided that I need a fool-proof solution since I’m dealing with fools.  I put a HUGE sign in purple and green markers (same color that FeDex uses).  It said in large letters.  KNOCK LOUD!   This still wasn’t 100% effective, but better than before.
The UPS guy who came, was the same Filipino guy, year after year. He knew us, and we knew him.  He never got sick, he was never late, and he never went on vacation. He was superman, I suspect he is immortal too, but I can’t prove it.  But, Fedex had a different guy each time — at least in my neighborhood in Los Angeles.. This is no way to run a business. I never saw the same face twice, at least not in my neighborhood in Los Angeles.
I give up!
The biggest problem for me was that there was no communication with the driver. This was a security measure, and probably needed.
It got to be too much of a pain.  The driver would either come when I was not there, or knock like a mouse.  They only caught me once per week.  So, finally, I said, “I give up”.  My housemates are complaining bitterly about the daily disruption, the knocking, the noise, me not being there, etc.  I decided that I would cancel my daily pickup and load my car up and make the pilgrimmage to Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles, California and deliver these boxes myself.  What a pain.