August 2013 - Notary Blog - Signing Tips, Marketing Tips, General Notary Advice -

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August 30, 2013

Alabama Notary Acknowledgment Verbiage

To become an Alabama notary, you must be at least 18 years old and a state resident who can read, write, and understand English. Your record must be free of felony convictions unless you were pardoned and had your civil and political rights restored. The Alabama notary commission is valid for four years. A sample application to become an Alabama notary can be found here: An interesting fact is that, while notaries may administer oaths and take acknowledgments, they are not authorized to execute jurats or affidavits. [I do not understand this at all.]

Notary wording for an Acknowledgment in Alabama: (Alabama Acknowledgment Wording)

Acknowledgment for Individual


I, a Notary Public, hereby certify that _______________________________________ whose name is signed to the foregoing instrument or conveyance, and who is known to me, acknowledged before me on this day that, being informed of the contents of the conveyance, he/she/they executed the same voluntarily on the day the same bears date.

Given under my hand this _____________ day of _____________, A. D. 20____.

Notary Public
Print Name __________________________
My commission expires:


(Code 1852, §1279; Code 1867, §1548; Code 1876, §2158; Code 1886, §1802; Code 1896, §996; Code 1907, §3361; Code 1923, §6845; Code 1940, T. 47, §30; Acts 1951, No. 85, p. 301.)

Ala. Code § 35-4-23 (1975) Effect of Witness Compliance


August 29, 2013

Don’t Do These Things: CA Notaries Who Have Done Wrong

Becoming a notary in California means taking on an awesome responsibility. And, like most awesome responsibilities, this one comes with lots of very strict rules that must be followed exactly. No, really — exactly. There is no wiggle room when it comes to being a notary public in California.

You would think that, with all of that responsibility and all of those extremely strict rules, every California notary would be very closely supervised. Nope! In fact, it is largely the opposite.

As a California notary public, you work almost completely independently of any state-sanctioned watcher type person. It’s understandable, given all that freedom, how someone who is a notary in California might be tempted to let some of the rules slide. Without someone watching your every move, it’s easy to say, “Oh, I’ll take care of that later,” or “Meh, good enough.”

Do not give in to this temptation! If you don’t see to every single detail and follow every letter of the law, you could wind up in huge and terrifying trouble.

For instance:

If you fail to properly identify one of the signers of the contract you are notarizing, you could face a civil conviction and have to pay a fine of up to $10,000. That is not a cumulative $10,000 over the course of your California notary career. That’s up to $10,000 for every time in which you, acting as a notary public in California, fail to identify a signatory to the satisfaction of the rules set forth by the Secretary of State. Yikes!

Let’s say that someone comes in and says they are working on an Intelius removal and need you to notarize some papers verifying the request to have the information removed from the system. The person wants the notary stamp to prove the time and date on which that person submitted their completed forms.

Your California notary public stamp tells a court (should the matter go that far) that you are vouching for the person, that he or she has met every legal requirement he or she needed to meet, and that they performed the deeds they say they did.

Let’s say you had to notarize three signed forms. You charge the person $45 for the service.


It turns out that, as a notary in California, you’re only allowed to charge people up to $10 per signature. You have overcharged the person by $15. Fifteen dollars doesn’t seem like that big a deal, right? You can just refund the over-payment, right?

Maybe. But if the person complains or brings suit against you for overcharging them for the duties you performed as a notary public in California, you’re going to be in trouble. The Secretary of State can suspend your California notary public commission for as long as six months, and you can be fined up to $750 — for every instance in which you overcharged that person!

Becoming a California notary is a huge responsibility, and these fines are steep and really scary. This is why, as part of the process of becoming a notary in California, you have to pay for “insurance.” This usually means paying for a California Notary Public Surety Bond. You can buy these bonds in a variety of increments. It depends on how much coverage you need. If you are sure that you can abide by every detail and follow every law involved with having your own California notary commission, you can go with a smaller bond.

The fact is that being a notary public in California makes you a very important person, and that means you have to take your important responsibilities seriously. Besides, can you really afford to have a criminal record and fines totaling thousands of dollars because you overcharged someone by a few bucks? It’s better to follow all of those annoying rules, don’t you think?

Erin Steiner was an Oregon notary public for one term. She now writes about everything from small business to pop culture topics all over the web.


Flipping cars: ride with a quick-thinking WV Notary

Filed under: General Stories — Tags: — admin @ 3:23 am

One successful West Virginia notary public explains, “I do a lot of car title work for guys who flip cars. You know, buy them and then sell them quickly for a profit. I notarize all the documents that need to be done. A lot of people do this part-time to earn extra money. They buy cars from private people or even from auctions. They know about cars, and they know how to repair them. But they don’t know about fraud, ” explains the WV notary. “Through all my dealings with young men in this business, I have learned how dirty the used car market is and how to recognize a fake check or a counterfeit money order. Fraud is also a big business, particularly when people are out of work” she comments.

“One time,” says our bright-eyed West Virginia notary, “this gung-ho young man called me and told me he had just sold a car for $3000. Wanted me to notarize the car title so he could turn the title over to the buyer. In West Virginia, you have to notarize the car title. I met him a few minutes after his call. Anyway, in this situation, the seller had just given the car to the buyer a few minutes before. Oops.”

“This young man named Chris, the seller, showed me three money orders for $1000 each. I questioned that. Why would a buyer give him three separate money orders? I told the seller and suggested he wait before cashing them. He needed a ride home. When I gave him a ride home, we passed a bank. I asked Chris, ‘Let’s just stop for a bit. I know someone at this bank. My friend the manager knows all about counterfeit money and fraud, and has testified as an expert witness,’ I told him.”

“I took the money orders into the bank and showed them to the manager, who happened to be filling in for a teller that day. She touched one of the money orders and said they were fake! ‘Rub this circle, ‘ she said, pointing to a place on the face of the money order. ‘It did not turn white.’ She explained that it did not use the proper ink and chemical process and showed me it was also missing a line and some hidden text next to a watermark. The ‘buyer’ had probably gotten the counterfeit money orders off the Internet, where there is also additional information about the counterfeit money order scam,” explained our West Virginia notary.

“I went back to the car. Then, I called the buyer and told him my husband worked for the sheriff: ‘If you don’t return the car, you’ll have a whole batch of police on your back and worse. Fraud is a federal offense…’ Then I rattled off the penalties, which I happened to remember He got mad and tried to lie, but I told him to hold the BS and told him where to meet us off the Interstate. He was only 5 minutes away. We recovered the car!” smiles our West Virginia notary. “Over the past few years, I have done a lot of notary work for this young man. And– he is going to write me a review–not that I understand how that will help me,” she adds.

Over the past few years, this notary has kept in touch with Chris, who has provided her with a lot of referrals. Her husband the sheriff? That was a bluff; but by standing her ground and using her righteous indignation and knowledge, this notary did a good deed and also upheld the law. Pretty good for a morning’s work!


August 26, 2013

California Notaries Who Get Themselves in Trouble

In 1999, a California notary public was fined $750 and had to perform 200 hours of community service after being caught and pleading guilty to forging a notary stamp and using it in a public office within the state of California (and then lying about). SOURCE:

Since then, the instances of notaries public in California have gone way, way down. So down, in fact, that a Lexis Nexis search turned up only two cases in which a California notary had suits brought against him. In one of those cases, the judge found that the California notary public had done nothing wrong. In the other, the judge ruled that the statute of limitations (six years at that point) on filing a complaint had expired.


Because the laws and penalties for breaking them are so strict that there is no way any notary public in California is going to break them.

For example, a notary in California has to keep her seal under very strict and exclusive control. If she fails to do so, while it has to be proven that she “willfully” disregarded this rule, she is guilty of committing a misdemeanor crime. The Secretary of State (who is the boss of every notary public in California) can also suspend her commission.

It gets worse if she lets people use her seal to perform notary duties under their own name and even worse if they perform them under her name. In addition to having her commission revoked, she can be fined up to $1500 — for every instance (and every individual notarization that someone else performed).

It is also a misdemeanor for a notary public in California to fail to properly maintain his journal. There are very strict rules about which details a California notary must include in his journal. Every single one of those details must be recorded for every notarization performed.

If the California notary public misses even one of those details one time, he has committed a crime. There is a statute of limitations on this rule. After four years, a mistake in the journal can’t be prosecuted. Still, do you want to be prosecuted three years and 364 days later for misspelling a person’s name or leaving out a date on something?

These are just two (of many) instances in which a notary in California can quickly build up a criminal record. It’s important that, should you want to go after your California notary commission, you’re prepared to follow every rule down to the tiniest detail.

Remember, on the surface, being a notary public in California looks more like fun than something responsible, but it is a duty that is incredibly important. When you become a California notary public, you are becoming an officer of the court — and that comes with incredibly high standards to meet.

Erin Steiner is a writer who writes about business, legal, pop culture, and general topics (like waterhog mats) She served as a notary public of


August 21, 2013

What is a Jurat?

Many people do not fully understand what a Jurat is. The term Jurat is loosely (and incorrectly) used to describe any notarial form. “Just mail me a Jurat” is a common request (that happens to be illegal). Never mail a loose certificate. A Jurat is one of many types of notarial acts. Common notary acts include: Acknowledgments, Jurats, Oaths, Affirmations, Protests, and some states allow witnessing, safety box opening, Proofs of Execution and other notary acts. Notary acts and laws differ from state to state.

A Jurat is a Notary Act that typically requires the signer to be identified, although laws in the past in many states did not require the signer to be identified (believe it or not).

The distinguishing characteristic of a Jurat is that it has an accompanying Oath — AND the signer must sign the document before the Notary Public. An Acknowledged signature may be signed hours, days or years before it is notarized! The wording for the Oath is up to the notary. Unfortunately, many notaries are not very good at administering Oaths and some skip the procedure altogether (which is illegal).

You can attach Jurat wording to a document. Or, just write a quick statement that you intend to swear to on a Jurat form. But, if you need an Acknowledgment certificate, don’t ask for “A Jurat”. It is not the same thing legally. Also, please note that the notary is legally forbidden from deciding what type of notarization you need. So, if your Attorney or document custodian doesn’t tell you what type of notarization you need, please ask them before the notary shows up! Good luck!

(1) The term Jurat is loosely (and incorrectly) used to describe any notarial form.
(2) “Just mail me a Jurat,” is a common, but illegal request!
(3) A #Jurat is a notary act requiring the signer 2sign before the notary, swear & be identified.


August 17, 2013

A California Notary Acknowledgment Goes to Taiwan!

A California Notary was asked to notarize a document from Taiwan. The document didn’t have California Notary Acknowledgment Wording or California Notary Acknowledgment Verbiage. So, the notary said, “No problem, I’ll just add a California Acknowledgment Certificate”. That was easy. The notary followed legal procedure for California notarizations. The document was sent to its custodian in Taiwan who rejected the document. The message was that the stamp needs to be on the document.

So, the California Notary Public informed his client that he cannot legally stamp the document without the corresponding Notary Verbiage which must be California Acknowledgment Verbiage or California Acknowledgment Wording. The client said, “Is it really necessary? People do this all the time!” The notary stated that the law was the law and that he wasn’t going to break it for another person’s convenience or why bother having notaries at all?

So, the California Notary emailed the Acknowledgment boiler plate wording template to his client who emailed it to his contact in Taiwan. The document came back with the wording at the bottom of the page. The notary notarized it, and all was well!


Notary Fines & Notary Penalties (gulp)

People going into the notary business should be aware that there is such a thing as Notary Fines, and Notary Penalties are real! I used to be a California Notary Public and read the California Notary Handbook multiple times. There are all types of penalties that could be imposed on a sloppy notary. I could go one by one and list all of the fines and penalties in the handbook, or just write about some more common types of mistakes that notaries make that could end up in a Notary fine. Please remember, that the types of infractions of notary law we are indicating below may or may not end up in a fine in your particular state. However, to be on the safe side, we encourage you to avoid any type of legal infraction whatsoever so you stay out of trouble.

If you move…
If you change your physical address, and don’t notify your state notary division within 30 days, or however many days your state allows (which is often 30 days), you might end up in a little bit of trouble. You might get fined for this type of neglegence. The Secretary of State or Notary Division in your state wants to know where you are living — that is important to them!

If you change your name…
If you change your legal name, you are required to inform your Notary Division in writing in many states. You might be required to get new notary commission, or just get a new notary seal that reflects your new name. A California notary for instance is required to notify the notary division immediately after a name change!

If you overcharge…
If you charge more than your state’s maximum published rates for a notary act, you could get fined for overcharging. It is doubtful that you would get caught, but to be on the safe side, don’t charge more than the amount your state allows for notary acts. You may charge for travel fee in 41 states, but you need to know what the rules are for travel fees too as there are restrictions in a few states. If you are a California Notary there is no limit to what you can charge as a travel fee.

If you put a wrong date on a notary certificate
If you intentionally put a false date on a notary certificate, you might get a lot more than just a simple notary fine or notary penalty. You might be criminally liable, especially if the notary certificate is on a Deed effecting real property. Don’t backdate! It is illegal and can come back to you!

Application misstatement
A California Notary Public could have their notary commission suspended, revoked, or terminated if they made a misstatement in their application. Tell the truth, or you could get in trouble.

We might write some more blog entries in the future about notary fines and notary penalties. But, for now, we just wanted to refresh your memory to the fact that these types of fines do exist, and let you know about a few specific types of cases where you could be fined.

Have a fine day!


August 15, 2013

Power of Attorney: Types Often Created

Filed under: Power of Attorney — Tags: — admin @ 12:45 am


A General Power of Attorney is a broad type of POA document, and gives the Attorney in Fact the power to execute, on behalf of the grantor, both legal and financial agreements that are binding.

A Durable Power of Attorney is essentially a General Power of Attorney but, as the name suggests, is meant to be of a permanent nature because the grantor has agreed in writing that he or she wishes the Power of Attorney to remain in effect should the grantor become permanently ill or disabled. Many financial institutions prefer this type of POA, and all fifty states recognize some form of Durable Power of Attorney. SEE BELOW “What rights does the agent or Attorney in Fact have?”

A Specific Power of Attorney (also called Special Power of Attorney) will be in force for a limited amount of time, or will delegate power to the grantee or agent for only a specific instance, such as the signing of certain papers at a location the grantor or principal cannot travel to due to a physical ailment.

A Medical Power of Attorney grants the Attorney in Fact the right to make decisions about medical treatment or health care on behalf of the principal or grantor, perhaps during an illness or for a period of time following an accident.

A Springing Power of Attorney goes into effect at some date or circumstance in the future, for example when cancer spreads so as to disable the grantor, and the POA remains in effect until the grantor’s death.

A Power of Attorney for Care of a Minor Child is a document that temporarily assigns another person the right to make health care or legal decisions on behalf of a child who may be in their care. Many states limit the term of this Power of Attorney to six months, after which time guardianship must be sought if the parents cannot care for the child for any reason (disability or death).


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August 13, 2013

Notary Public Cures Lying!

Being economical with our finances is challenging. Being “economical” with the truth is a snap. That’s because fudging a bit is a byproduct of being all too human. But notary publics shine a light on the signed, sealed and delivered un-stretched truth. Imagine if we navigated the half-truths of life with the added assurance a notary would provide? Imagine no more.

· “It’s not you. It’s me.”

Okay… Before we break up and I draw at least some comfort from the fact I had the misfortune of choosing a partner who wasn’t good enough for me instead of vice versa, would you be willing to sign “It’s not you, it’s me” in front of Jeremy, my truth detector?

“Okay, it is you. Where do I sign?”

Oh well. Thanks for lying. Till a couple seconds ago, that is.

· “We’ll keep your résumé on file.”

And I’ll keep my notarized statement in which you promise to keep my résumé on file… on file.

“We’ll keep your résumé in the nearest circular file till the janitor heaves it. That you can notarize.”

Wow. I’ve been canned before, but never garbage canned.

“Your résumé didn’t mention you’d been canned before.”

You actually read my résumé? I’m honored!

“As I was folding it into a paper airplane, I couldn’t help but notice.”

· Billy “likes” this on Facebook.

And Jeremy at likes the fact you like this, once you let him notarize your thumb up.

“Billy likes avoiding work by killing time on Facebook. That you can notarize.”

Thanks, unfriend.

· “You look great.”

You didn’t tell me that sixty years ago when I was twenty. Why should a bunch of liver spots change things? I won’t believe you till makes it official.

“Don’t forget. When you were twenty, my eyesight was still good. That you can notarize.”

Okay. At least you’ll be able to feel the seal.

· “You’re a wonderful cook.”

Thanks. My dog you’re secretly passing the chicken to under the table seems to agree. Would you mind letting seal the deal and paper on which you praise my culinary skills?

“I was talking about the time you cooked up the whopper about how you can cook. That you can notarize.”

Well, you’ll have to come again sometime. I’m talking to the dog.

· “I’ll call you sometime.”

Yes, you will. If I can have Jeremy at notarize your promise to do just that.

“ ‘I’ll call you a name sometime.’ That you can notarize.”

I’ll be sure to return the call.

· “What a great audience.”

Thanks. After Jeremy from notarizes the cue card off of which you read that, I’ll believe you.

“No problem. Come on up, Jeremy.”

Jeremy affixes his official seal to the cue card. The card is so thick, the seal can’t make it all the way through, rendering the audience less than certifiably great. They start booing, further validating why Jeremy’s seal made less than an impression.

Thanks, you’ve been great readers. Jeremy… can you confirm that?

Andy Cowan is an award-winning writer, producer and performer, whose credits include “Cheers,” “Seinfeld” and “3rd Rock From the Sun.” He can be reached through his website,

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August 12, 2013

Jeremy’s Birthday Party

Filed under: Humorous Posts — Tags: — admin @ 7:39 am

[Please refer to “Jeremy Doesn’t Want to be 44” before reading this one.]
Disclaimer: This blog is based on rough plans that haven’t happened yet. We are just using our imaginations here. But, we really are planning to go wine tasting in Ojai!

Thank God I wasn’t born on Feb 29… or else I’d be 11 instead of 44.

Things go well at the wine tasting in Ojai. Everyone meets someone pleasant and begins to feel that there are new possibilities in life. The wine is good. Sylvia says she’ll meet up with us back in L.A….where we are going to the Korean restaurant The Prince for dinner. Will she really come to L.A.? Does she like me that much?

Aline, Jen, Shelly and I arrive at The Prince. There seemed to be several birthday parties taking place in the room.

The guy at the table next to us is an acupuncturist…he’s having an acupuncture birthday cake that looks like an arm with tall thin silver candles like acupuncture needles…long skinny needles…

There is another party having a cake in the shape of Korea. They are cutting the cake. One person is saying “I want Pusan…” His sister is saying “I want North Korea…I want to eat them…” Another guy says, “I’m a Seoul brother… I’m from Seoul…Give me the piece that has Seoul in it!”

The menu is fantastic. They have their signature dish, deep-fried Korean chicken…and also sweet potato fries…deep-fried seaweed…and several types of Korean pancakes (large and thick, like egg foo young) with seafood, meat, or vegetables. Aline and I order dishes of raw meat we can grill… and a lot of root vegetables… Jen orders Korean pork belly wrapped in a leaf with other vegetables. It makes sort of a little taco. Shelly waits to try samples they bring to the table. I order a special plate with a little bit of everything. After all, it’s my birthday.

My friend Myung comes in with two people I have never seen before. “How are you? What are you doing here?” Myung introduces me to his sister Chae and his friend Gun-woo.

“Would you like to join us? It’s my birthday. I didn’t know you’d be in town. Come join us,” I offer.

“Sure! My friend Gun-woo is a software developer who just moved here. He will stay with us for a while. Are you still looking for help with your website?”

“A developer! Gun-woo, I am looking for a developer!” We talk shop for a few minutes. They have brought a baduk board with them, and we play. Gun-woo hears Aline say that I am 44…and smiles: “I’m also 44!” The evening is going well already. Chae hits it off with Jen and Aline and Shelly. They all talk about me while I am playing baduk with the guys.

After that, a birthday cake shaped like a giant notary stamp arrives…leaking dark chocolate black ink. “I want the part that says notary public,” I say. “I want the handle,” Shelly says. Everyone claims a special piece. It’s served on plates with Jurat wording “Subscribed and sworn before me…”
“Save some for Sylvia, I say optimistically. Everyone looks at each other doubtfully. Just then, Sylvia opens the door and walks into the room. The girls are all surprised she made it. I am too happy for words.

“I had a hard time with my GPS but once it got used to L.A., The Prince was easy to find,” she says, smiling. I am so happy. Sylvia looks lovely. “What are we having?” she asks. “Well, you could have the Korean tacos… Dahkgogee. Dahk is chicken. In Korean, the word for chicken is pronounced Dahk. But, what is the word for Duck — Chicken? Probably not! Or you can have bulgogee…which is meat. Beef or pork.” She orders some quick tacos and has some of the notary cake I saved for her. She just smiles at me.

I count the number of people in the room (a habit of mine)…and it is 44. I look at the bill for the glass of soju and it is $6.44… everywhere is 44…
Myung says, “You should have gone soju tasting instead of wine tasting…” We laugh. Gun-woo likes Aline and is talking to her non-stop.

“We have a surprise for you,” says Jen. Jen and Aline are smiling impishly. Suddenly, someone is behind me– and my face is forced down into a pie on the table… Everyone is laughing. They take pictures. I grab a few napkins as they are laughing hysterically. I finish cleaning up in the rest room…

“Let’s go dancing… ” I say. Sylvia looks right at me, right into me, as if she has known me all her life. Jen and Aline say, “You haven’t been dancing for years!” They are surprised but happy.

Sylvia and Gun-woo are 44 too, and they are the coolest people I can think of. Maybe being 44 is not so bad. In fact, you know what? I have decided that I like being 44. I want to be 44 forever!

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