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February 9, 2013

2013 Phoninar Quick Course

Here is the study guide for the phoninar!

The purpose of the phoninar is to help notaries learn some of the basics of signing without taking an actual course. Many notaries do not want to take a course, or they already took a course without mastering the material. My solution is to have a free quickie course to start them out with. If they can pass our over the phone test, we will keep them on the site. However, if they fail miserably, then we will most likely remove them from the site if they have a free listing.

Topic #1
The Right to Cancel
Most notaries have a rescission calendar that they refer to when calculating the last day to rescind. Few notaries know when all of the Federal holidays are. Many notaries also can not think clearly about how to calculate the last day to rescind mainly because they have never practiced calculating this date. If you want to come across as a professional, learn to give quick and accurate answers to simple everyday signing questions.

In a residential refinance, the borrower has (3) days to rescind not including Sundays and Federal Holidays. Be careful, Presidents day and Washington’s birthday are synonomous. Also, Flag day is not a Federal Holiday, but banks might be closed. Some lenders do not count SATURDAY as one of the (3) days to rescind, but formally, Saturday is considered a business day in terms of calculating rescission. Other lenders allow the Friday after Thanksgiving to be considered a holiday when legally it is not. Basically, each lender is different, but you have to know the basic laws effecting rescision instead of relying on what the handful of lenders you work with say.

Here is a list of Federal Holidays — memorize these for the test
(1) New Years Day, (2) Martin Luther King Day, (3) Washington’s Birthday, (4) Memorial Day, (5) Independence Day, (6) Labor Day, (7) Columbus Day, (8) Veteran’s Day, (9) Thanksgiving, (10) Christmas

Quick Facts
(a) There are two blanks for dates in the RTC which are generally filled in by the lender. Once in a while the notary needs to fill in these dates or correct them. The technical terms for these dates are the Transaction Date and the Rescission Date. Please memorize these terms for the test.
(b) The date of the signing is NOT included in the (3) days to cancel. If a loan is signed on Monday then Tuesday is day 1, Wednesday is day 2, and Thursday would be the 3rd or last day to cancel.
(c) Loans must be cancelled in writing by the deadline in writing by fax or mail, but not by email.

Pop Quiz
(1) Name all Federal holidays that come in January
(2) If a refinance is signed on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, when is the last day to rescind?
(3) If a refinance is signed on a Friday, when is the last day to rescind?


Topic #2
Most notaries know a little something about the APR, but this topic is actually very critical for your success as a signing agent. Every borrower wants to know why their APR is higher than their Rate. How good is your explanation. Here is what we want you to know for the phone test. Sure, there is more to know than what we are telling you, so learn the basics from us, and learn more on your own.

Definition:The APR is the annual percentage relationship between the payments and the amount borrowed, minus the fees. This rate is often used to compare the different loans borrowers have to choose from. The APR is almost always higher than the rate. The rate, on the other hand, is a monthly percentage relationship between the payments and the total amount borrowed, including fees.

Quick Facts
(1) The APR is documented on the Truth in Lending Disclosure
(2) The APR is usually but not always higher than the Rate
(3) Your definition for the APR should include the fact that it could include loan origination fees, closing costs, appraisal fees, inspection fees, points, escrow fees, notary fees, and other costs of the loan — those are some of the big ones.
(4) If you mention that the APR is often used to compare loans, you get points on the phone test
(5) If you mention that the APR might be compounded, you get points.
(6) Several notaries have claimed that there is no government standard for computing the APR, it is up to each individual lender.
(7) You could also claim that the APR includes the interest rate, all fees and costs of the loan, and incorporates them all into a compounded Annual Percentage Rate.
(8) There are many ways to define the APR, the key is to mention all of the components in a clear and easy to understand way.

You might like:
Definitions of the APR

Pop Quiz
(1) Which document contains the APR?
(2) What are some fees that might be incorporated into the APR
(3) Please create and rehearse your definition of the APR so that you will sound professional before your borrowers


The Rate
The Rate or Interest Rate is more of a topic of confusion with the notaries than the APR although it is much simpler to understand and actually easier to find. Traditionally, the Rate is always findable on the Note. The note by definition discusses the Interest Rate, monthly payments, and prepayment penalties (if any). Once in a while there will be a Rider associated with the Note that might discuss these issues as well.

Inexperienced notaries typically claim that the best place to look for the Rate is on the Truth in Lending. Half of them say this because they are so uneducated that they can not distinguish between the APR and the Rate. The other half choose the Truth in Lending Disclosure because the Rate is actually documented there in many cases. But, let me ask you — if you are in front of the borrower and want to make a good impression — would you look for the Rate in a document where it sometimes is, or in a document like the Note where by definition it ALWAYS is? I vote for always because you will look like a fool if you go fumbling through the documents trying to find the right information in the wrong place.

Quick Facts:
(1) The Rate is always located in the Note
(2) In loans over the last few years the Rate is also generally documented in the HUD-1 Settlement Statement which comes later in the documents than the note unless it was sent separately.
(3) Some lenders include the Rate in the Truth in Lending, although this should NOT be the place you look for it first since it is not always there.

Pop Quiz
If you want to show the borrower the rate, which three documents would be where you would look, and in which order would you source those three documents?


Dealing with errors in signings

Errors on Notary Certificates
From time to time in a signing, there will be an error in the notary certificates. Please keep in mind that handling an error in a certificate might be handled very differently from an error in the actual documents, or in the body of the actual documents, so please make the distinction.

If there is an error in the notary certificate — such as an acknowledgment or jurat certificate to name examples, there are various ways to rectify the situations. The problem is that each method has an upside and a downside.

(1) Cross out and initial
This is a messy way to solve a problem on a legally significant document such as an acknowledgment. If a person’s name is spelled incorrectly, crossing out an initialing could get the document rejected by a county recorder. One notary had to cross out wording on an out of state certificate that claimed that she personally knew the signer when in fact she did not know the signer. She crossed that out, and the document custodian was very upset. I told her to consider adding a loose certificate.

REMEMBER, it is the notary who initials changes on notary certificates and NOT the signers.

(2) Add a loose certificate and start all over
Legally, you can always add a loose certificate. However, the person or entity to whom you are submitting the documents to might not like it. Please distinguish between what makes your work legally acceptable and popular as the standards often do not match. The loose certificate has the advantage of having whatever name and wording you want it to have so you don’t need to cross anything out.

(3) Notarize the document twice?
Not illegal. You can do two journal entries and notarize twice. Notarize the original acknowledgment embedded in the last page of the document with the cross outs, and add a fresh certificate as well assuming you have a 2nd journal entry to match that one. Document this well in your journal for your protection.

(4) Redraw?
Redrawing documents is time consuming and expensive. It involves making new appointments and risking not getting paid. But, for an out of state that needs to be worded in a particular way, you can have them word it however they want it to be worded, so that no cross outs or illegal claims or acts are necessary.


Errors in the right to cancel
Notaries typically do not know how to fill in the dates of the right to cancel. From time to time a signing will be postponed a day, and you need to change the two dates in the right to cancel which are the transaction date (the date you sign), and the rescission date (the last day you can legally cancel). Please try to appear educated and don’t say the signing date, or the cancel date as these wordings are not educated sounding and are also not clear.

To fix the dates on the right to cancel you can:
(1) Cross out, right the correct dates and have both borrowers initial
(2) Pull a fresh copy from the borrowers copies and start all over. The borrower’s copies might or might not have the dates printed in the blanks. If you made a mistake correcting dates, then sourcing the borrower’s copies definately makes sense.


Fees on the HUD-1 Settlement Statement
If someone wants to know where their fees and closing costs are, please direct them to the HUD-1 Settlement Statement. But, which fees are on the HUD. There is a huge conglomeration of information on the HUD. Too much to teach. But, to impress us, you should be able to rattle off a handful of fees on the HUD without batting an eyelash. Here are a few fees typically on the HUD.

Services: Abstract of Title Search & Title Charges, Appraisal Fee, Attorney fees, Document preparation, Notary Fees
Transaction Costs: Assumption fees, Broker fees, Credit reporting fee, Escrow account deposits, Escrow Fees, Loan Origination fees, Points or commissions, Settlement or closing fees
Inspection Fees: Lead based paint inspection fee, Termite inspection Fee, Other Inspection fees
Insurance: Flood insurance Fee, Hazard insurance, Mortgage insurance application fee, Title insurance
Payments: Interest, Cash payments


There are no legal standards for initialing. However, the purpose of an initial is to have an abbreviated way of writing your name in a document.

Andrew B Clay Sr.
His initials could be ABC, or ABC Sr. Which is better?

Some lenders don’t want a Jr., or Sr., on an initial.
However, if it is part of the signers name on Title, then it is part of their name.
The initials for Junior would be Jr. Therefor in my opinion, it should be part of the initial representing the forth word in the name.

What about Andrew Hooper III
I would have him initial AH III

There is no way to shorten the III part. But we don’t want to confuse him with his father and grandfather who might have been on title, so we wil include the III unless asked by the lender not to. There are pros and cons in the different ways of initialing. Be thorough unless asked not to be by the lender.


Parties involved in a loan
Many notaries don’t realize how involved the loan process is, and how many parties there are involved. So, if you make a mistake signing a loan, you might be inconveniencing more parties than you think. Here are a few:

Relatives of the Borrower
Signing Company
Settlement Agent
Escrow Agent
Insurance Companies
Loan Servicing Companies
Loan Holding Companies who purchase the loan from your lender (at great risk)
County Recorders
Oh… I almost forgot — the pets of the borrower

If your stamp was smudgy
If your stamp isn’t clear on notary certificate forms, recorded documents might be rejected by the county recorder. If there are cross outs, or anything that the recorder doesn’t like, they might reject the document as well which would mean that the notary would have to notarize the document all over again which is very time consuming and involves scheduling. Each county recorder is different and there are over 5000 different county recorders throughout the United States!


Attorney in Fact wording
If Sam Smith is signing in his capacity of Attorney in Fact for Sharon Smedley, how would he sign? There are at least two ways: Here they are.

(1) Sam Smith, as attorney in fact for Sharon Smedley (I like this way best)
(2) Sharon Smedley by Sam Smith, her attorney in fact (ambiguous as to who you are in the signature)

Memorize the wording including the commas if you want to pass our phone test!


Fraud & Journals
Not all states require you to keep a journal, but for your protection you need one regardless of what your state says. No state forbids you from having a journal. In your journal you record the date & time of notarization, type of notarization, document name, document date (if any), signers name and address, type of ID used, ADDITIONAL NOTES where you record anything unusual about the signing, or if you used credible witnesses, the signature of the signer, and a THUMBPRINT.

Quick Facts:
(1) If a signer is accused of committing fraud. OR, if a third party is accused of tricking a signer to sign something or of forging a signature, then the thumbprint in your journal could keep protect you.
(2) The thumbprint could stop an investigation in its tracks since you have evidence
(3) A thumbprint could drastically reduce the time involved in an investigation or court case. Imagine being stuck in court for 30 days with no income because you did a risky notarization for an elderly lady in the hospital who was on morphene and couldn’t think straight.
(4) Warning — beware of notarizing the elderly. Make sure they understand what they are signing and can paraphrase what is in the document for their protection and yours. You are not legally required to understand the contents of the document, but they can get into huge trouble, and drag you into the trouble if they are being tricked into signing something — especially a power of attorney or deed.


Spouse not on loan?
This question is very state specific. New York deals with spousal issues differently.

As a general rule, if the spouse is not on the loan documents, they might need to sign any Deeds including the Deed of Trust, (Mortgage), Right to Cancel, Truth in Lending, Correction Agreement, HUD, and perhaps a few others.


Define beneficial interest
If a party is a beneficiary to a document being signed, they would have beneficial interest. But, who else might have beneficial interest too? If you are a relative of the signer such as a spouse or child, you might benefit from the document being signed. If you are a notary who won’t get paid unless the document is signed, then you have beneficial interest in the document being signed which is illegal. To keep it legal, make sure you get paid regardless of if a document gets signed to keep yourself impartial and above board. A notary’s job is not to notarize, but to say NO when necessary. Stand in front of the mirror and practice saying NO!


What is the difference between e-documents, e-signings, and e-notarizations

e-documents are documents that are sent to the notary electronically via the internet. A password and various types of downloading software would be necessary for e-documents as well as a high speed internet connection and a fast printer with good ppm.

e-signings are signings typically signed on a laptop with a wireless card. Some of the documents are still physical, and the journal used is physical.

e-notarizations require a special enotary commission. Only about (9) states have such a commission. The signer is still required to appear before the notary in all, or almost all cases (varies over time and state by state — AZ at one point had some exceptions to the personal appearance law). ENJOA or an eJournal is used for e-notarizations. Unfortunately, county clerks offices are not always able to fulfill their legal obligation to be the custodian of ejournals after a notary’s commission is over. An interesting twist on some new technology that has many serious issues.



  1. Thanks for the info, was very informative. Arlene

    Comment by Arlene Mills — February 13, 2013 @ 2:28 pm

  2. Very infortative. Thank you.

    Comment by Dianna J Starr — February 13, 2013 @ 3:20 pm

  3. Good info and very basic for a veteran lender. I can see where many Notaries would not have a clue understanding documents that I use to create. When you have a degree in Lending and Real Estate and Law I can’t imagine a Notary doing this job with out makeing many mistakes.

    Good basic info though to help keep them out of trouble.. I can’t see the necessity though to know which Fed. Holidays are in which month as long as you know the Federal Holidays.

    Comment by Eugene W. Riggs — February 13, 2013 @ 4:37 pm

  4. President’s day is a Fed. Holiday, not Washington’s B’day. Washingto’s B’day and Lincoln’s B’day are now celebrated on President’s day, not on their actual birthdays

    Comment by Dorris Cox — February 13, 2013 @ 4:37 pm

  5. Good information. I need to take the course and test . Pleawse advise

    Comment by Pauline Fernandez — February 13, 2013 @ 5:48 pm

  6. I was surprised to receive an out of the blue phone interview and passed for the basic listing. I had signed up about a year ago. This is a good refresher and I appreciate the informal method it is presented. One course I took was so formal it was confusing to wade through all the legal jargon let alone remember anything. I took another course from a well recommended source and it was more down to earth and practical and then I became confident with doing the work.

    Comment by Alan — February 13, 2013 @ 5:49 pm

  7. The information is great.Too many signing companies make a cursory attrmpt at qualifing new NSA’s.It is obvious you take a professional stance in your certification process.

    Comment by Arthur Ling — February 14, 2013 @ 4:02 am

  8. I was very surprised to receive your phone call last night. It maybe realize that we always have room for improvement specially when a simple questions are ask and sometimes even do we know the answers we hesitate. Thanks for the info, was very informative.

    Comment by Dalia — February 14, 2013 @ 10:08 pm

  9. I was also surprised to receive the phone call. While this information is above helpful, keep in mind that in many states a notary or even a paralegal may not practice law. A good notary should know that also. Be very careful what questions you answer for anyone. Giving legal advice by answering the question is just as wrong as not being able to spit out by rote what someone with a phone quiz has on a script. I am basing this on 18 years of experience as a real estate paralegal.

    Comment by April — February 17, 2013 @ 9:41 pm

  10. Great Information thank you!!

    Comment by Laurie — February 17, 2013 @ 10:41 pm

  11. Excellent “refresher” course for a notary… As times goes on in our signings it’s easy to forget some of the “basics” which were itemized here. thanks for taking the time to give this aid to us.

    Comment by Carol — February 25, 2013 @ 8:38 pm

  12. Thanks for the “refresher”course for the notaries…As time goes on in our signings…it’s easy to forget the “basics” of a signing and I appreciate your time and effort in putting this in format as you have.

    Comment by Carol — February 25, 2013 @ 8:40 pm

  13. This is some very helpful information

    Comment by Dee — February 28, 2013 @ 1:16 pm

  14. Thank you for this information, Good to know…

    Comment by Lidia Del Rey — March 11, 2013 @ 11:02 am

  15. Excellent information. Great refresher course!!

    Comment by ROBYN GOERDT — March 19, 2013 @ 11:35 pm

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