Decline Profitable Junk Work
Some may feel “work is work” and take all they can get. Mobile notaries are not hobbyists; we do the work for the money. Some are able to charge more, for the same work, some less. Without a scheduling conflict, we want to “book” that work. Of course it has to be legal. But not all legal work is useful to our callers. Sometimes we know the end product, though legal, will be junk.
Case in point to illustrate: my late night caller has an emergency. They have an appointment with the Immigration folks in downtown Manhattan at Federal Plaza. They just noticed the requirement that their documents must be notarized. Routine so far, but a little probing uncovered the real facts. One of the documents is a birth certificate from China. The other is a divorce certificate, also from China. NY State law regarding “vital records” permits me to notarize as long as those types of documents did not originate in NY State. There are slightly different procedures for processing a photocopy; different from processing an original document.
I learn the birth certificate is in the Chinese language, and is original. Some specific wording is required, but it’s perfectly proper to notarize the signature of the person named on the document. But, will it be useful for their intended purpose? Frankly, I really don’t know. I suspect they will have to have the document translated by a licensed translator. The translator’s signature will be notarized, attesting to training and accuracy of translation. Atop that would go the caller’s statement as to being the rightful possessor of the document. But, I’m not sure. I explain this to the caller and suggest they contact the authorities as to specific requirements. I could have accepted the assignment; but I feel they would be walking in with notarized junk without the translation.
The divorce decree was even worse. Again, it was in Chinese; but this time the document was not an original, only a photocopy. Similarly, I could legally notarize the photocopy; again using NY State mandated verbiage for photocopies. But the acceptability for purpose is, IMHO, unlikely.
As practicing professionals we know a lot more about notary law than the general public. We also know a bit about bureaucratic processing requirements. Of course we don’t know “everything” but we should know the limits of our knowledge. When I am sure, or almost sure, the work product will meet the client needs it’s a go. But, as is often the case, I am unsure. When I express my doubts they usually ask “what do you think”. That’s calling for my opinion, or to phrase it a bit more honestly – for me to guess. I don’t like to guess, preferring to refer them to the proper authorities to ask their “how should I proceed” question. Also, answering “how should I proceed” comes very close to “playing lawyer”. That must be totally avoided.
Would it matter if the caller told me they were affluent, and wanted to “try” using my notary work; not caring if it was rejected? Sure, if they, knowing my concerns, wanted to “throw money at the project” – I would be happy to oblige. It has to be their informed decision based on whatever knowledge I can provide as to the likelihood of success. I’ve done many “let’s try it and see what happens” jobs. Rarely do I learn the outcome. I don’t know if my caller was pent house or poor house; nor does it matter to me. Ethical notaries will Decline Profitable Junk Work. But, will allow the client to overrule the notary when clients are making an informed decision.
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