October 2011 - Notary Blog - Signing Tips, Marketing Tips, General Notary Advice - 123notary.com
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October 22, 2011

Can a notary be a witness?

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Q&A for notary witness questions

Many people come to our blog to learn more about witness rules and credible witness requirements in various states.   We can not speak for all 50 states, but we will try to provide some good leads that can help you get your questions answered.
This blog entry will serve as a quick Q&A for some of the more common nationwide and state-specific notary witness questions.

 
How many credible witnesses are necessary?
Roughly 90% of states allow credible witnesses.  Please read:  http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=4047.  This forum post to learn the credible witness requirements for your state.  In California and Florida, if the notary knows the witness, then only one is necessary.  However if the notary does not know the credible identifying witness, then two would be necessary. In either case, the credible witness must provide identification, and swear under oath to the identify of the signer. In many cases, the credible identifying witness only knows the signer by some informal name and knows them as a neighbor or co-worker on a very informal basis.

Can a notary act as a witness?  Can a notary be a witness?
Unless your state law indicates otherwise, then yes, a notary can act as a witness. Please keep in mind that certain notary acts require the notary to witness the signature of the signer (jurats), while other notary acts do not (such as acknowledgements).  A notary can act as a witness for a signature that they notarized, or for a signature that they did not notarize. It is an official notary act to be a witness in Delaware and Washington State as well.  It is common for people to ask a notary to witness signatures, since notaries are trusted state officials who would be a good impartial and responsible witness.
 
How to notarize a document when you have credible witnesses?
The credible witness(es) must sign the notary journal (rules vary state by state), and must produce identification as well.  The credible identifying witnesses must swear under oath as to the identity of the document signer.The credible witnesses do not actually sign any documents, they just sign the journal and help to identify the signers.

 Can a notary notarize with no ID and 2 credible witnesses?
Yes, if the notarization takes place in California, Missouri, Florida, Georgia, or Tennessee.
 
Nevada credible witnesses – is there a special form?
Nevada requires a special acknowledgment form for credible witnesses.
 
Can a notary be a witness to a Will?  Can a notary witness a Will?
Yes, a notary can be a witness to a will.  Some states allow witnessing as an official notary act as well. If it is not an official act, then the notary can charge any fee they like to serve as a witness.  Please keep in mind that notaries are discouraged from notarizing signatures on Wills without written instructions from an attorney.
 
Can a notary sign as a witness in Maryland? Can a notary be a witness in Maryland?
A notary can sign as a witness in Maryland, but it is not an official notary act in that state. 
 
Can a notary sign as a witness in Utah? Can a notary be a witness in Utah?
Yes, a notary can be a witness in Utah.
 
Can a notary be a witness in Texas?
Yes, a notary can be a witness in Texas.
 
Can a notary be a witness in New Jersey?
Yes, a notary can be a witness in New Jersey.
 
Can a notary be a witness in Pennsylvania?
Yes, a notary can be a witness in Pennsylvania, although it is not an official notary act.
 
What are credible witness statutes?
Credible witness statutes and rules vary from state to state. We have a forum post that covers many states rules about how many credible witnesses you need.
 
Doesn’t a notary have to witness you signing in person?
This depends on the type of notary act.  For Jurats — yes… for Acknowledgments — no.  In either case, the signer must sign the notary journal or notary record book if that is required in your state.
 
If you live on the border of 2 states, are you permitted to witness signings in both states?
Since witnessing is not an official notary act except in Delaware and in New Hampshire (as far as we know), a notary can be a witness anywhere, in any state or country.
 
Can a notary charge for a witness signature?  Can a notary charge to be a witness?
Since this activity is not an official notary act except in Delaware, the notary can charge whatever the client will agree to pay.  No state government regulates how much a witness can charge.

Can I be a notary and a witness?
Sure!
 
What is a notary credible witness acknowledgment?
To the best of our knowledge, only Nevada requires a special acknolwedgment for credible witnesses.  However, credible witnesses may be used in most states to identify a signer for an acknolwedged signature.
 
What is a subscribing witness?
A subscribing witness could be someone who witnesses a principal sign in a proof of execution — OR, it could be a person who witnesses an elderly person do a signature by X signing.

You might also like:

Power of Attorney information

Can a notary witness a will or notarize one?

California Credible Witness Requirements

Oath of two credible witnesses

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October 19, 2011

Notary Rotary’s Forum Vs. 123notary’s

Filed under: Social Media — Tags: , , — admin @ 11:03 am

There are various notary forums out there, among which, the largest are Notary Rotary’s and 123notary’s.  These two forums are structured differently. 
 
Notary Rotary’s Forum
Notary Rotary has a forum roll, and topics move down the screen never to return. Commentary comes in quickly, and notaries seem to like this form of organization.  They get at least sixty entries per day (mostly responses), and there is a huge diversity of topics.  They have a search function too.  To read the comments, you need to click on the links, one by one, and you can not see all the commentary at once.  This forum has been around for at least a decade. They have tremendous momentum, and their forum is a force to be reckoned with.
 
You might also like:
Review of Notary Rotary vs. 123notary
 
123notary’s Forum
123notary’s forum is very indexed, and topics fall into about a dozen or so categories.  You can use the active topics link to see all the topics that were added or commented on since your last visit.  This is the most useful feature on the whole forum. Search by category, and see posts in order of which one was commented on or added the most recently.  You can also filter by number of replies or how many clicks a string got.  There is also a search function where you can search by keyword and find highly relevent matches.
 
History of the 123notary Forum
123notary’s forum didn’t start until late 2004, so we had a late start.  We knew nothing about promoting the forum then, and still have a lot to learn!  However, month after month, more notaries signed up to be on the forum, and more started commenting.  It was not until 2007, that I actively started taking an interest in the forum and posting regularly.  We didn’t get much volume on the forum until late 2007, and it grew for a while, and then got slow in 2009 due to the economy.  My interest on the forum had always been interesting topics of discussion.  The notaries on the other hand were interested in reading about signing companies — so, they could know who to avoid like the plague!  What I learned was that discussion topics only really work if there are really popular, otherwise they get ignored for the most part.  I have to thank Ken Edelstein, because he is responsible for a high percentage of the really interesting and intelligent discussion content on our forum, and he has also posted a few really interesting posts on our blog.
 
Which forum is right for you?
Putting aside which type of organization you like, the main thing is looking around to find content that interests you.  Sometimes it is good to use both forums to find really good material about a particular signing company, or discussion topic.
 
What is next?
123notary is thinking about creating a much more user-friendly archiving section, where users can browse through hundreds of categories of discussion issues, and find many posts in each category that interest them. Hold your breath, because that is not coming out until 2012 if we are lucky!  We have other things on the front burner before that!

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October 17, 2011

Fixing Botched Signings

Filed under: Notary Mistakes,Signing Tips — Tags: , , , — admin @ 9:09 am

Fixing botched signings
There are notaries out there who get calls from signing companies to fix loans that some other notary goofed on.  The comment of the seasoned notary is always, “Why didn’t you call me in the first place?”.  The signing company always says, “Because, you are too expensive”.  But, how much money are you really saving if the notary job has to be coordinated twice, done twice, and if the signing company and lender get a huge headache?

Taking risks
Its always risky hiring new people. You never know if they are going to be any good or not. But, the seasoned notaries often want double or triple what a novice wants.  How much is experience worth?  In my experience, if I send a Fedex, it takes five minutes, but if it gets lost and I have to play detective work to figure out what happened, and perhaps send it again, it could take an hour. I have other better things to do in that hour.

It would be easier if…
It would be better if there were some database somewhere where notaries would be rated. If someone was new, but people wrote some commentary about how the notary did their work, the others who are interested in hiring that notary would at least have some idea of how the notary worked.

Companies keep a database
Signing companies do keep their own database.  They are always trying new notaries out. If the new notary does a bad job, they get blacklisted in the database, and will not receive any more work.  However, the next company down the line doesn’t know what happened and will try the notary out for themselves.

How risky is it?
The question is, is it better to hire new notaries and take a risk of a loan being ruined?  How risky is it?  If you get paid $150 to get a loan signed and offer $50 to a notary, that is $100 profit.  If you get a good notary who wants $125, then you only make $25 which is not much of a profit. That is the motivating factor why signing companies don’t pay much.  You make quadruple the gross profit by hiring newbiews. After you pay your staff and your office expenses, you might be making 10x the profit by hiring newer notaries.  The business math is always interesting.

I feel that the Title company should have more of a say as to what notaries are hired for jobs if they care about their loans.  If they leave it to an intermediary, it will be like the shipping companies of 1000 years ago who brought expensive Arabian race horses to Europe, but fed them the cheapest food.  When the horses got where they were going, they were too weak to run anymore…

You might also like:
Interesting and uncommon notary acts

Visit our notary glossary!

I make mistakes too!

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October 14, 2011

Notary Carry All Bag

Filed under: Technical & Legal — Tags: , — admin @ 8:02 am

A few years ago we were selling the NNA’s Notary Carry All Bag. I used this bag during my entire notary career.  It had a little pouch or compartment for just about everything you could imagine.  There was room for my journal, acknowledgment pads, jurat certificate pads, seal, embosser, pens, and more!  Unfortunately for me, I was not able to sell more than a handful, but NNA sells them and will ship them for you!
 
For mobile notaries, I highly recommend getting a small bag with a small lock to lock the two little handles for the zipper together.  NNA’s notary carry all bag comes with a tiny lock and key, so that you can fulfill the California notary public rule of keeping your seal and journal under lock and key!
 
I kept this bag in my trunk, since I was always on the go as a mobile notary.  Unfortunately, on one forbidding evening, I went to the gym.  My mind was racing with all types of uneasy thoughts as I pounded my feet on the treadmill.  I spent an hour or so at that gym in Rosemead, CA.  And then, when I went back to my car — it had been broken into, and my notary carry all bag was missing, along with a few other items that would be worthless to the ignorant crook who stole them. I went to the police department, and filled out a report. They were very rude to me.  So, after that event, I kept this little bag safe and sound behind a huge plastic crate of emergency supplies which I keep in my car in case there is an earthquake.  We are in California after all!  I wrote to Sacramento, to our Secretary of State notary division to tell them about my tragedy. I had a new seal, bag, and embosser in about two weeks and was back in business.  Ouch!! That was a terrible experience.
 
The moral of the story is that a carry all bag is essential, but keep it in a place where the crooks can’t find it.  Have hidden place in your car where nobody would look except for you — and perhaps homeland security!!!

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October 13, 2011

Best Notary Supplies

Filed under: Signing Tips — Tags: , , , — admin @ 5:58 am

Best Notary Supplies 
There are many companies out there to get notary supplies from.  Unfortunately, local stationary stores seem to either not have any notary supplies, or not have very high quality notary supplies.  Getting a mediocre notary journal is not the same as having a very beautiful and thoughtfully designed one — I know the difference, but do you?
 
There are various ways of going about finding the best notary supply company for you.  You can google notary supply companies in your area or state.  Or, just contact the National Notary Association.  When I was a notary, I used their supplies for my entire career, and was always very impressed with the quality and wide variety of products they carried. But, there are others, and those others might be closer to you, or may cater to your state more.
 
National Notary Association
Located in Chatsworth, CA, they can help you become a notary in any state.  They can help you with live classes in California and have materials for many other states as well.  They carry a variety of seals, stamps, embossers, journals, notary carry all bags, notary law primers for roughly 30 states, errors and omissions insurance, bonds, acknowledgment pads, jurat pads, and many other types of notary certificate pads for all states.

Read our review of the National Notary Association
 
Pennsylvania Association of Notaries
National Notary Association caters to the whole USA, but there are a few other good companies as well.  Pennsylvania Association of Notaries is very well reputed.  They can help you become a notary, renew your notary commission, or even find a notary public in Pennvsylvania. Bonds, Insurance, Resources, Classifieds, and more — they do it all!.
 
Signing Agent E&O
I have not heard of this before…or perhaps I heard of it once and forgot about it.  Regular Errors and Omissions insurance doesn’t cover for errors made during a loan signing unless it pertains to a notarized document. Most documents in a loan signing are not notarized!  Additionally, the late return of a notarized document can ruin a loan, but isn’t a notary error — it is a signing agent error!
 
American Association of Notaries
This is another well reputed notary supply company.  They carry most types of notary supplies and for very reasonable prices.
 
If you want to search for more companies, use google and look up using a state keyword and then the term “notary supplies”. That is one way to find the best notary supply company around!

You might also like:

Notary Carry All Bag
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=1238

Make your own notary certificate forms!
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=1759

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October 12, 2011

Signing Agent & Notary Blog Informatio​n

There are a few notary blogs out there.

The question is, what type of perspective do you want to read about?  A few blogs are written by notaries, there are a few signing companies blogging too, and then ours is from my perspective as a former notary and notary directory owner!
 
123notary.com Signing Agent and Notary Blog
This is our blog and you are visiting it now!  We write about all types of issues effecting notaries including notary jobs, signing companies of interest, issues relating to the mortgage industry, and technical issues effecting notaries. We get all kinds of interesting commentary from our notaries too, so don’t forget to read the commentary!
 
Detroit Notary Blog
This blog, based in Detroit, MI is lots of fun to read.  I visit there regularly and sometimes comment.  The author is a customer of 123notary.com (he advertises with us). The author writes about practical notary issues, as well as issues in banking, and mortgage that effect the notary signing agent business as a whole.
http://blog.detroitnotary.com/
 
Mobile Notary Review
This blog has some interesting information about signing companies and some good mobile notary tips. 
http://www.mobilenotaryreview.com/
 
N3Notary Blog
This blog offers notary advice from the point of view of a signing company.   They explain how to understand reviews of signing companies, and how to do your job well as a signing agent. I like the fact that it is from a point of view that I don’t normally hear as a directory owner.  We rarely hear from signing companies, although they are the ones using our site more than anyone else!
http://www.n3notary.net/articles/
 
Notary Success Blog
This blog goes over basic tips for notaries and has some personal show and tell as well such as travel articles!
http://www.notarysuccess.com/Notary-blog.html
 
Champion Notary Blog
This blog is written by another client of ours.  I’m enjoying this recent post entitled, “Are notaries equal?”.  This post has commentary about how notaries differ in terms of specialties and skill sets.   If you like interesting commentary about various types of issues effecting notaries, you might like this blog.
http://championmobilenotary.com/blog/
 
Bay Area Mobile Notary Blog
Practical issues are discussed here.   One post is about how they are accepting credit cards for notary services.  Identification and notary procedure are explained step by step here as well. This is a notary blog written from the point of view of a service provider — a very busy one!
http://bayareamobilenotary.wordpress.com/notary-blog/

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October 7, 2011

Notary Acknowledgment Information

Notary Acknowledgment Information 

The most common notarial act is an Acknowledgment.  Other common notary acts include Jurats, Oaths, and Copy Certification of documents.  Notary law and current notary wording vary from state to state, but certain laws are fairly standard. 
 
The signer of an acknowledged signature may sign the document BEFORE seeing the notary. The point of having a notary acknowledgment is to prove that you acknowledge signing a particular document, and for the notary to positively identify you. 
 
Current Acknowledgment wording varies from state to state
Although the wording can vary, the basics include: (1) A venue that should indicate the state and the county where the notarization took place. (2) That the signer APPEARED BEFORE the notary public.  You can not have an acknowledgment unless the signer appears before the notary.  The only notary act that allows the signer not to appear before a notary is a proof of execution, and few notaries have ever completed that act.   (3) The date when the signer acknowledged the signature before the notary should be included in the verbiage. The signer could sign the document five years previous to seeing the notary, but the date the signer appeared before the notary is the date that the signature was acknowledged.  Incidentally, you could have the same signature on the same document acknowledged twice on different dates. (4) There should be wording to indicate that the signer acknowledged signing the document.  Basically, the act of coming to a notary to have an acknowledgment is considered a non-verbal acknowledgment that you signed the document. The document is refered to as an “instrument” in many states. It is also noted that the signer’s name is subscribed within the instrument meaning that the name is written in part of the document. The notary should check the signature on your identification to see if it matches too.  (5) The name of the signer and the notary must be documented in the verbiage. (6) There should be some documentation stating that the signer’s identification was proven.  Sometimes the wording, “Positively identified” is used.  The term “Satisfactory evidence” is often used to refer to a number of ways that a signer could be identified.
 
(7) The signature of the notary is commonly documented as the “seal” of the notary. This is not to be confused with the physical inked seal which is also a seal (confusing).   (8) Additionally, there should be a place for the notary to affix their official notary seal (stamp).  Some notaries use an embosser which is a type of seal that looks like a clamp and that can leave a raised impression in the paper with or without ink.
 
Summary
Acknowledgment wording should include:
(1) Venue
(2) Appeared before
(3) The date (i.e. 08-04, 2012)
(4) That the signer acknowledges signing the instrument that their name is subscribed to within
(5) Name of the signer and the notary.
(6) Proof of identity of the signer
(7) Signature (seal) of the notary
(8) A place for the notary to affix their official notary seal.
 
Sample Wording from California
 
State of California
County of Los Angeles
 
On 5-15-2011 before me, John Doe, notary public, personally appear Joe Barber who proved to me on the basis of satisfactory evidence to be the person whose name is subscribed to the within instrument and who acknowledged to me that he executed the same in his authorized capacity and by his signature(s) on the instrument the person, or entity upon behalf of which the person acted, executed the instrument.
 
I certify under PENALTY of PERJURY under the laws of the state of California that the foregoing paragraph is true and correct.
 
WITNESS my hand and official seal
 
——————————————                                        (affix stamp here)
       (Signature of Notary)
 
See some other pages with information about acknowledgments

Interesting and uncommon notary acts

Florida Acknowledgment Information

California Acknowledgment Information

Michigan Acknowledgment Information

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October 1, 2011

Oct 2011 Most Active Signing Companies

Signing companies come and go as we know.  We keep updating our list of signing companies twice a year.  New ones keep sprouting up in this dismal economy.  Some have specialties that are popular now like reverse mortgages, loan modification, etc.  Although some of the oldies but goodies are still around, I thought that it might be better to write something about signing companies that are doing a lot of work in 2011. This post will be a sort of list of active signing companies.  The only indication I have of knowing if a signing company is active is if there are comments about it on the forum. All of the companies below were written about in the last six months and had at least a few comments about them.

Disclaimer: Not all of these companies are still in business, and we are not claiming that these companies on the list are pleasant to work for.  We merely claim that they were commented about several times recently.

So, here they are:
 
All Service Notary & Signings

Altisource Portfolio Solutions

American Freedom Assurance

Avenue 365

Bancserve

Cfacts Title

Chase Title

Cogent Closing Service

Commonwealth Signature Services

CRES Closers

D & T Signing Services

Dynamic Field Solutions

Equifax

EZ Signing Services

FASS

Final Link

Finity Title

First Preference Signing

Genuine Title, LLC

Global Discoveries, Ltd.

Good 2 Go Notary Services

Greenbelt Real Estate Services

Harvard Abstract

HVR Notaries

Insured Closings

MDA Lending Solutions

Mortgage Connect

National Loan Closers

National Notary Ink

Nations Direct

Nowclosings.com

Pacific Document Services

Proficiency Signings

N3 Notary

NREIS

Safir Signing Agents

Service Link

Settlement Corp

Skye Closings

Socal Signings

Speedy Closing and Title Services

Superior Closings

Teriel Closing Solutions

The Notary Biz

The R&R Group

Time Share Relief

Trans State Services, Inc.

Transunion Settlement Solutions

Trusted Enrollment Agent

UST Global

Vital Signings

You might also like:

September NEW Signing Companies

55 NEW Signing Companies

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