March 2012 - Notary Blog - Signing Tips, Marketing Tips, General Notary Advice -

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March 27, 2012

Notary Boiler Plate Wording

Notary Boiler-Plate Wording
Notary wording and notary verbiage differs from state to state.  Ohio might have one type of official notary boiler-plate wording on acknowledgment certificates while California notary wording or Florida notary wording might be completely different. 
If you are a notary…
To find out what official notary verbiage is in your state for particular notary acts, you should ideally have acknowledgment certificate pads, as well as jurat certificate pads.
If you are not a notary, but need to have a document notarized…
The official notary wording from your state MIGHT be embedded in the signature section of the document already.  If not, an experienced notary in your state MIGHT (should) have official pads for common notary acts with the notary verbiage on it.
Is it important to have the right boiler plate wording?
Some states require exact wording, while most states require certain key pieces of information to be included in the wording.  The important facts generally are the date of the signing, the name of the notary, the name of the signer, the fact that the signer acknowledges signing the document, the fact the the signer appeared before the notary and proved his/her identity, the signature of the notary (also confusingly called a seal), and the official seal of the notary (stamp).
How to fill out notary certificate wording?
Leave this to the notary.  Any notary is supposed to know how to fill out the certificate wording. If you are a single man signing a document and the notary verbiage says he/her/their, then the notary is supposed to know to cross out the her and their, although many are so uneducated that they don’t cross out anything. 
Notary personally known wording
Many states no longer allow a notary to use personal knowledge of a signer to identify them. However, if your state allows you to identify a signer based on the signer being personally known to you, then you can indicate that on the notary wording and in your journal (if your state requires a journal).
Resource materials
California Notary Wording / California Notary Verbiage
Colorado Notary Wording / Colorado Acknowledgment Wording
Florida Notary Wording / Florida Notary Verbiage
Illinois Notary Wording / Illinois Notary Verbiage
Michigan Notary Wording / Michigan Notary Verbiage
Texas Notary Wording / Texas Notary Verbiage


March 23, 2012

Notarization Dates, Document Dates & Signature Dates!

Document Dates 

We had this question as a Facebook competition question. It was fun, but we got too many wrong answers which is a little bit disconcerting.  There are different dates you have to be aware of as a notary. Some are more important than others, and each date has its own function.
Signature Dates
The date the signer signs the document is the signature date of the particular signature.  There are cases when a husband and wife will sign the same document, but on different days.  People are busy, and two notaries could handle the same paperwork on two separate days with two separate signers.  Those loans are tricky, and are more likely to have to be redrawn.  Just as long as you get paid, don’t stress!
Notarization Dates
The date you notarize someone’s signature is the notarization date.  The date corresponds to the signature, not the document.  A document could be signed by more than one party on different dates.  Or an addendum could be added and signed on another date as well.  Its complicated.
Document Dates
This is the question that 90% of the notaries got wrong.  I had very few choices of contestants to put in the drawing to win Starbucks!  The document date is NOT necessarily the date the document was drawn up, although it usually is.  It generally should not be dated after the signing to avoid confusion.  It is often dated the day the signing is intended to happen on, and is often dated the day it was drawn, or sometime in between.  There is no rule governing when the document date can be.  The function of this date is to be an identifying mark on the document to distinguish it from other documents.  Of course, if you have ten documents all entitled, “Affidavit“, to be signed by the same two parties, and all having the same document date, it really doesn’t narrow it down.
Your Journal
If you live in a state that doesn’t require journals, please don’t read this paragraph.  Actually, do read it, and get a journal anyway.  Your journal of official notarial acts is your record of all notary acts that you have done in your commission. It is evidence if you ever have to go to court, or if you are ever questioned about a particular act. It adds to the integrity of the notarization and safeguards against fraud, especially when you take thumbprints for all documents (optional, but recommended).   If a fraudulent notarization takes place with someone impostering you, without your journal, you will never have proof that you didn’t notarize that person. Journals keep records in sequential order, so you can go back to July 3rd, 2003, and see that you indeed never notarized Shelly Deeds and her Deed.
In your career, you will most likely eventually be asked to put a fraudulent date on your notarial certificate which is refered to as backdating. This is illegal, and you can lose your commission as a result, if you get caught.  A lender might need you to date the certificate for the 27th, when its the 28th, so that the borrowers can keep their lock. Its their problem, don’t get involved.  Lose the client and keep out of jail! Please see our blog article entitled “Backdating from A to Z

You might also like:

Leave a few spaces open in your journal

Document dates go in the optional info section of an Acknowledgment: March 2013 Phoninar

The transaction date = the signature date: Feb 2013 Phoninar

How do I fill out a journal entry?


March 21, 2012

Background Screening for Notaries?

Background Screening – who needs it?
Notaries are never quite sure whether background checks and background screening are an important part of the industry, or just a way for the agencies who provide it to make more money.  The state and DOJ screen you when you become a notary, right?  You can not be a felon and still be a notary, right?  So, why a redundant background check?  Does it make the signing companies feel better? Do they even want it?  The reality is that few companies ever ask notaries for background checks, but a few do.  How much work will you lose by not being background checked?
In California or Out of California – it makes a difference
If you are outside of California, aside from getting more inches of rainfall per year, the standards for becoming a notary are different.  California has been more
stringent in commissioning notaries for more than a decade, than other states in the country.  After 2005, it got even harder… a lot harder.  Its now very difficult to become a California notary public.  The test is murder, and then you need to get live scan fingerprinting (last I checked — and this is always changing), and checked by the DOJ and the FBI, and in some countiesof California maybe even the KGB.  Okay, maybe not the KGB, but I’m trying to illustrate how picky things are here.  Nobody who is the least bit sketchy or questionable will be able to become a notary, unless they didn’t get caught yet.  But, what about other states?  The rules change from state to state. It is possible that many states are very lax about background checking their notaries, and in those states, maybe the NNA should background check notaries!
A popular topic on the forum
Background checks are a very popular topic on the forum simply becuase there is so much confusion and emotion tied to the subject.  There is nothing notaries hate more than having to do something redundant.  Personally, I do redundant things daily, and I don’t mind providing I’m getting a benefit from it.  Others don’t see it the way I do based on these blogs. 

You might also like:
If you visit the forum and use the search box you can look up many more strings about background checks, but these are the strings that I thought you would like the most!
Question 13: Background Checks
Background check standards 2010
2nd Background check by Service Link
Nations Direct and Background Checks
Background Screening?
Its back, background check requests


March 17, 2012

Oath of two credible witnesses

Oath of two credible witnesses
We wrote another quick blog entry regarding WHEN you can use the oaths of two credible witnesses to identify a signer.  We also specified WHICH STATES you are allowed to use the oaths of two credible witnesses in.  Please refer to:
Credible witnesses from A to Z 
to learn which states allow the use of oaths from two credible witnesses to identify a signer.  If a notary public uses two credible witnesses, then the notary doesn’t need to know those credible witnesses, however, the credible witnesses should be able to tell the notary public the complete name of the signer(s).  Please keep in mind that you should not use credible witnesses unless the signer either has no identification, or unless it is too difficult to obtain that identification (generally because it at a different place far away). 
Please keep in mind that the notary public must administer an oath to the credible witnesses asking them to swear under oath as to the identity of the signer, and that the credible witnesses should sign the notary journal in the notes section as well.  The notary must also identify the credible witnesses by means of identification documents such as a drivers license, passport, etc.

You might also like:

Can a notary charge for a credible witness?

Sample Affidavits & Sample Oaths


March 15, 2012

Electronic Notary Journal Information

Electronic Notary Journal Information 

It is legal and possible to become an e-notary (electronic notary) in many states.  All electronic notaries need an e-journal or electronic journal, and e-seal (electronic seal), and online e-documents to notarize.  Please note that personal appearance of the signer is required, so you can not do any remote notarizations using this technology according to current notary laws in 2011 / 2012.
The NNA used to be one of the most robust organizations at promoting e-notarizations, but they abandoned their ENJOA electronic journal program back in 2009.  They might still have information about where to point you, but it is unclear at this time.  Although the concept of e-notarizations and e-notaries is very interesting, hardly any notaries are actually commissioned to do this type of work.
Here is a site that sells Notary Journal Software for e-notarizations
There was another site called the notary shop, but their site didn’t pull up.
You are also encouraged to ask your state notary division where they recommend getting an electronic journal if you are already an e-notary.
Here is a list of states that we do NOT have information about in terms of e-notarizations.  We assume these states don’t allow e-notarizations.
Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.


March 7, 2012

Death and the Notary

Death and the Notary

I have heard that it it best to get some things done sooner rather than later but this one takes it to another level….

Some borrowers won’t let even a death in the family stop them from a refinance transaction. I had a mobile notary that received a job from one of his trusty signing companies. He confirmed everything and prepared his documents. On the day of the signing he received a last minute call stating that the borrower had a death in the family but they were  going to proceed with the closing at the agreed upon time.

So, our mobile notary arrived at the house as scheduled not only to find that there indeed was a death;  the female borrower had sadly lost her mother. It was apparent that she was distraught and he could see that she had been crying, but she insisted that she wanted to proceed anyway. So our mobile notary pulled out the tools of the trade and got ID’s logged in and proceeded to start to pass the docs down the assembly line  for signature and initials. However about ever two or so docs the door bell would ring a family member  and/or friend would start to come bearing food, gifts of condolence. So as the visitors would come the female borrower would stop the signing and get up go to the door greet her quests as they came to pay their respects. They would offer their sympathy and condolences and then tears would begin to flow again. ANd she would come back to the signing table and begin to sign again. Needless to say this went on for over two hours. Boy, all I can say is the signing agent on this one was a trooper. It seems that the motivator for this borrower to sign no matter what was a 30 year fixed at 3.8 or so. I guess who could blame her. Life does goes on….

So It seems a great interest rate no matter what the circumstances (good or bad) will never stop some borrowers from signing loan docs.

Until next time!

Be safe!

You might also like:

Bad identification at a notary job

A tale of four notaries at hospitals

Power of Attorney at a nursing home

Do they refinance haunted houses?


If you can’t find a witness to sign…

Filed under: Witnessing — Tags: , , , — admin @ 3:21 am

If you can’t find a witness to sign a document… 

Certain documents such as Wills generally require the signatures of witnesses.  It is better if the witness knows the signer, however, sometimes, you just have to get a living breathing human being who is 18 years of age or older.
A notary can be a witness. Some states allow notaries to witness as an official act.  But, I have not heard of any state prohibiting a notary from acting as a witness in their capacity as an individual.
You can always try to grab a neighbor or a stranger who will be willing to act as a witness.
It is good to document the witness’s identification, printed name, phone number and address just in case.  You might need to find that person after the fact, or prove that they really witnessed a real signature.
Sometimes, a notary might be instructed to notarize the signature of a witness on a Will.  Although notaries are generally discouraged from notarizing the signatures of the main signer on a will, I have never heard of a notary being discouraged from notarizing the signature of a witness on a Will.

You might also like:

Can a notary act as a witness?

Can a notary witness a will or notarize one?

Where do credible witnesses sign the journal?


March 5, 2012

The Signing from Heaven

The Signing from Heaven

The call comes in when you have nothing on your calendar. It’s for signing about 5 miles from your home. You notice that it’s from a very highly rated title company that you have been trying to link with for years. They are very exclusive about who they hire. They have several highly pro-notary policies. They always pay their notaries public in full, as long as you did not make any errors. It does not matter if it “closes” or not. If the borrower refuses to sign or rescinds; they consider only the work that you did. Their standard pay is $150 and the docs are always shipped to you at least 3 days prior to the signing date. The appointment is usually set 5 days prior.

When the docs arrive, (they ship them to you), you examine them closely. You notice that they took the time to accurately fill in the venue section with both the correct state and county where the signing will take place. There is no lengthy “Statement of Information”; only a request for a copy the signer’s IDs – and the borrowers are requested to sign the photocopy of their ID. The package is sent in a single PDF which includes the return airbill. The date of the signing has been set; however you are requested to arrange with the borrower a mutually convenient time for the actual signing. They respect and trust their notaries public and your check is included in the shipment.

You arrive at the signing location, with a nearby parking spot; to be greeted warmly. After introductions, they serve coffee and cookies on a spacious and well lighted table. They confirm that they have previously received and reviewed their “borrower copy” directly from the title company. They mention a mistake was found and provide you with a sealed FedEx envelope that they say contains, directly from title (the shipper’s address), a new HUD; to replace the one you brought. They inform you that you will also find in the envelope a note from the loan officer authorizing the document “swap”. You notice on the table the borrowers have prepared copies of their driver’s licenses and have placed the originals on top of the photocopies.

As you examine the IDs you notice that there are no sounds in the room. The TV is off, there are no children anywhere in sight; nor are any animals in the room. The borrowers tell you they have examined the entire package, and with the sole exception of needing a new HUD; they are ready to sign. Moreso, they request that you only present to them documents that need signatures, and that you “turn the page” on documents that do not need any signatures. When you reach the first page to be signed you notice that the spelling on the IDs exactly matches the spelling on the documents from the lending institution and title / escrow.

Processing the 87 page document set proceeds at a rapid pace. They sign using a neat clear full signature exactly as printed “under the line”. The borrowers have no questions, but do mention that they allocated a full hour to sign the documents. Half way thru the documents you are brought a refill of very excellent coffee, and a few more cookies. Towards the end of the document set the borrowers compliment you on your punctuality and mention their desire to send a complimentary letter on your behalf. After all the documents are signed, and the oath given; they mention a future need for a traveling notary and request your card. They notice the FedEx airbill/envelope and express appreciation that you will be handling the actual shipping of the package back for them.

Smiles and handshakes are followed by a last piece of cookie and final sip of that superb coffee.

Dear reader of this post regarding “The Signing from Heaven”;

The last line of this post can be found in a song by The “Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band” specifically, the song title is: “I’m The Urban Spaceman”. Please find the lyrics – you will have to do a bit of hunting, to find the last 3 words of my post regarding “The Signing from Heaven”; which are also the last 3 words of that song.

You might also like:

Carmen’s blog – The husband and the stolen license

Borrowers and their filthy homes

Guns and Pit Bulls at signings

A NY notary does a signing in an ambulance!


Can an Illinois notary notarize a document in Wisconsin?

 Can an Illinois notary notarize a document in Wisconsin? 

The answer is simply — NO!  A notary public can notarize signatures in their state ONLY.  Make sure both of your feet are on the soil of the state that you are commissioned in when you notarize documents.  You can meet people right at the border if they are out of state, but make sure that you and the signer are on your side of the border.  Imagine doing a signing at four corners in the Southwest!  You could be in four states simultaneously and eat fry-bread too!
Notary Public Illinois –
If you are an Illinois notary public, please keep your notarizations to Illinois only.  However, the Wisconsin notary division might allow you to apply to become a Wisconsin notary public.  If you have a dual commission, then you can use your Wisconsin notary seal and Wisconsin notary journal to notarize documents on the WI side of the border and you will be within the limits of the law.

 What about Louisiana Notary Law?
Louisiana is a very strange state. It has kept the laws from the colonial days when it was under Spanish and French rules. The laws are as ecclectic as the evolution of their cuisine that kept adding influences from immigrant cultures for hundreds of years.  Someone could do a PhD on the evolution of Gumbo and how it went from being African, to having Spanish and Italian influences, and then how people like to use French Anduille sausange to this dish now.  Wow! I’m getting hungry thinking about Louisiana.  But, the bottom line is that Louisiana has PARISHES, not counties, and notaries can be commissioned in their home parish, or a group of a few reciprocal parishes, or have statewide jurisdiction.  This is the only state I have heard of that has restrictions for what part of the state you can notarize in.  See our Louisiana notary public search page!

You might also like:

Interesting and uncommon notary acts

Notary Acknowledgment information


March 2, 2012

Notary dragged into court!

A Notary gets dragged into court!

I love it that you guys share your stories and/or experiences with me. I feel that not only are they interesting they need to be told. They also serve to educate all of us of whats happening out here and also make us think. This is one of those stories.  I was speaking with one of our long standing notaries about their renewal and some other matters which led him to tell me this story which I feel it is very important, because although through no fault of the notary public we need to remember to do our jobs to the best of our ability and to  always be on the lookout for fraud.
It seems that this notary public had received a summons to court and had been going to trial for the past few days and he was not at all pleased.  I cant believe it because as far as I know it it not that often a notary public gets called into court. At least for me it is something that I don’t hear about too often. 

It seems that a loan signing assignment had been given to him which he completed with no problems but it had turned out many months later that the person that had appeared before him and the person that had signed the loan documents was not the true borrower named on the documentation nor was it his property.  The culprit was the son. So, I guess it is safe to say,  the son desperately needed money for god knows what and had initiated a loan in his fathers name using the father’s property using his fathers name. I thought to myself “What kind of person does this”? Did the son actually think he was going to get away with it? I mean the note would possibly be changing as well and some of the other things like maybe the lender, etc.  What did he think his father would not notice? DId he think he wouldn’t get caught??? or did he even care.

I guess for some folks desperate times calls for desperate measures.  So now our notary had to spend precious time for which he wasn’t compensated for in court because of someone else’s crime. The notary was required to produce his journal and had to ID the son as the one who had impersonated his father.
I asked the notary public how the ID looked he said it was not a fake as far as he knew. He told me that nothing was out of the ordinary. And the signing went smooth.

Now, the notary did absolutely nothing wrong in this case and it was out of his control but it got me to be thinking that sometimes we can become too comfortable in our job and our duties.. So the  moral of this story is that we need to be paying attention at all times because there there is always somebody out here trying to pull a fast one….check those id’s carefully and document everything in your journal. And if your state doesn’t require you to keep a journal then you should. It may save you a whole lot of trouble if a ‘situation’ should ever arrive.  The notary had his journal and all of the proof that he needed so he was in the clear.

You might also like:

Everything you need to know about journals

Leave a few spaces open in your journal?

Getting what is due! A clever plan!

A notary gets sued, but E&O won’t help!

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