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February 19, 2019

Beneficial Interest

Beneficial interest, financial interest and conflict of interest are terms that a Notary Public should know.

Beneficial Interest
If a person is named in a document as someone who will receive some sorts of rights, privileges, or financial endowments, the could be said to have beneficial interest. Notaries are prohibited from Notarizing documents that they are named in as this constitutes beneficial interest which represents a conflict of interest. If you are a beneficiary in a document for perhaps a will, trust holdings, etc., then you would have beneficial interest.

Financial Interest
Someone who is named in a document to receive financial sums can be said to have financial interest.

Conflict of Interest
If you gain by having a document signed and you are the Notary, that means you have an interest in having the document signed which constitutes a conflict of interest. Notaries need to be impartial in their duties and should not have any conflict of interest.

Notarizing for Family Members
It is discouraged for a Notary to notarize for family members. It might not directly constitute a conflict of interest, but it looks questionable and it is better to have an outsider notarize signatures for family members as they are completely uninvolved (probably).

Interesting links

123notary Glossary — beneficial interest
http://www.123notary.com/glossary/?beneficial-interest

Investopedia — beneficial interest definition
https://www.investopedia.com/terms/b/beneficial-interest.asp

The 30 point course — beneficial interest
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=14532

Just say No #3
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=376

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April 22, 2015

Point (28-30) Beneficial Interest; Negligence; E&O;

Filed under: (2) Technical and Legal — Tags: — admin @ 10:53 pm

Marcy had to go back to the hospital to notarize Esmerelda, the old lady who could barely talk. Her family assured Marcy that it would be okay this time. Marcy wanted her travel fee in cash at the door. She explained that if the signer was not fit to be notarized, she would legally have to decline notarization, but didn’t want to have any issue getting her travel fee should she decline. A month back, she drove an hour to a jail, waited for another hour only to be told that the inmate had been moved. The client who met her there didn’t want to pay a travel fee because Marcy “didn’t do anything.” Additionally, Marcy would have a beneficial interest in getting the document signed if she didn’t collect her travel fee at the door. She would want it to be signed so she could collect her $30. In any case, they paid Marcy her travel fee. Esmerelda was able to communicate and actually did understand the document. She summarized it. Marcy was able to do the Signature by X procedure and get her notarized that evening.

An hour after the hospital notarization, Marcy had a loan signing. At the signing, the borrower asked about the pre-payment penalty. Marcy found it in a snap since she had been studying what information is in what document (like all good Notaries should.) But, Marcy started to read the pre-payment penalty to the borrower and even explain what the terms of that part of the agreement meant. Marcy had overstepped her bounds. She knew she couldn’t give legal advice, but she wasn’t aware that explaining a prepayment penalty could be construed as legal advice. Luckily for Marcy, the Lender gave her a quick lecture on not giving legal advice, and Marcy was very careful from that moment onwards.

After Marcy’s two jobs, she came home only to find Patricia waiting for her on the front porch. Patricia had something urgent to tell her. One of Patricia’s other friends who was a Notary was getting sued, and her E&O insurance wouldn’t help. Marcy asked why. Patricia said that the error was not a Notary error, and that E&O only insures you against Notary errors or omissions. It was the Lender who made an error, and the borrower was suing everyone in sight. Even the Notary who had nothing to do with it. It would have cost this Notary $30,000 in legal fees to defend herself from this angry borrower. Then Patricia told Marcy what a Hold Harmless Agreement is. The Lender has their documents, but if you make the borrower sign a Hold Harmless, that can prevent them from suing the Notary as they agree not to hold the Notary responsible should anything go wrong with their loan. Patricia was a great source of knowledge tonight. So, Marcy consulted an Attorney and got a quick Hold Harmless Agreement written out, and she kept a stack of them in her car so she would be sure to have one for every loan signing form that day forward. She didn’t want to end up like that other Notary! Good God!

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Point (28) Beneficial Interest
It is illegal to notarize a document that you have a Beneficial Interest in. But, what constitutes Beneficial Interest? If you or a close family member is named in the document as someone who will receive money, or privileges, then you could be said to have Beneficial Interest. If you would gain in any way from the document being signed, you have Beneficial Interest.

One interesting twist on this concept is that Notaries who get a travel fee don’t always collect the fee in advance. If you are in front of the signer who doesn’t have proper ID, and they ask you to notarize them anyway or you won’t get your travel fee, then you have Beneficial Interest. You won’t get your $35 if you don’t comply with their illegal requests. As a Notary, you are expected to uphold the law, and if your travel fee rests on you bending the law for someone, you are not only encouraging yourself to do something questionable, but you have Beneficial Interest in the document being signed which is purely illegal.

Financial Interest means that you will benefit financially from a document being signed, while Beneficial Interest means that you will benefit in one way or the other — perhaps financially, or perhaps in some other way.

Point (29) Negligence
What constitutes Notary negligence?

Failure to administer an Oath
Failure to take a thumbprint in your journal for a deed or Power of Attorney
Failure to identify the signers
Failure to inspect signatures
Failure to make sure signer signs in front of you for a Jurat
Failure to completely fill out a journal entry

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Point (30) E&O insurance

Many companies want to hire Notaries with E&O insurance. It makes the Notary look more professional and covered. In real life, it protects you only from honest mistakes on notarizations. Most of what you are doing involves overseeing large business deals that get sent back to the lender via courier. Most of the problems you could encounter might include signing the wrong way (even though it might be notarized correctly), getting documents back late, a missing bank check, cross-outs, no-shows, or other mistakes. Notary errors on notarized documents might account only for 25% of the problems that occur in signings that could lead to damages.

If the Lender makes a mistake that causes the borrower damages, you could get sued, and E&O will not cover you since YOU were not the one who made a mistake AND because it is not a Notary mistake. One of our Notaries dropped out because she got sued for more than $100,000, because of some fraud that the Lender was accused of committing. The borrower was so angry that they want to sue everyone in sight regardless of fault. Unbelievable!

Additionally, in 2013 Notaries who had enormous E&O packages were being sued on a regular basis. You are like a guy in a Mercedes driving around a slum. You have the word “Target” written on your forehead and taped to your back. Sooner or later you will get mugged. Think like a Ninja. You don’t get mugged — you mug THEM!

My advice is to think carefully before investing in a handsome E&O package. If it will land you a good account with Chicago Title, then do it. Otherwise, it might make sense to have a smaller E&O premium and have all of your borrowers, Lenders and signing companies sign a HOLD HARMLESS agreement. The agreement should be drafted by an Attorney and could state that if there are any damages by negligence or omissions by the Notary, that you (the Borrower or Signer) will not hold the Notary responsible.

You might also like:

30 Point Course Table of Contents
http://blog.123notary.com/?cat=3442

The 30 Point Course Final Quiz – Jeopardy!
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=14557

Posts about E&O Insurance
http://blog.123notary.com/?tag=eo-insurance

Help, I’m being sued, and E&O insurance won’t help!
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=3570

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May 16, 2019

Notary Quiz of the day

Filed under: Humorous Posts — admin @ 11:30 am

Notaries hate being tested, but love reading Notary tests on blog entries for some reason. I’ll have to ask my psychic why that is. Maybe it is because they are not on the spot with this. Here is a fun quiz of the day.

1. Notaries notarize
(a) Documents
(b) People
(c) Signatures
(d) Signatures on Documents
(e) People’s signatures on documents.

2. Initials. If you initial a change on a loan document, where should the initial go?
(a) To the right of the crossed out text
(b) To the left of the crossed out test
(c) Above the crossed out text
(d) Anywhere around the crossed out text
(e) Below the crossed out text to the right.

The processor I used to work for did not want me to cross out the text, but initial below the text and below the right end of the text. The processing dept. would do the rest according to good old Emily. I wonder how she is.

3. What is the difference between a conflict of interest, interest, financial interest, and beneficial interest? This reminds me of the joke about the Mortgage Broker who left the industry in 2008 because he lost interest.

4. A Notary was asked to notarize a document with no signature line. What should the notary do?
(a) Ask the borrower to write in a signature line.
(b) Tell the borrower that he cannot notarize the document without a signature and signature line.
(c) Write in the signature line himself.
(d) Refuse to notarize the document.
(e) Call Carmen at 123notary and ask for help.

5. A Notary does a job for an old lady at a hospital notarizing a document. The notary asked the lady if she understood the document and she said yes. Two months later all parties were in court because the lady did not understand what she had signed. What should the notary have done?
(a) Ask the lady to paraphrase the document.
(b) Tell the lady how he went to the white house to visit President Johnson and see how she reacts.
(c) Stick to jail signings — they might be criminals, but at least they are in their right mind (whatever that means.)
(d) Start a conversation about current events to do a “reality test.”

6. A Notary was asked to notarize at the peace process. The Palestinians said you can’t have peace without a process. The Israelis said you can’t have peace without security. The Notary said you can’t have a notarization without a signature. After a long discussion, the Palestinians wanted to be acknowledged twice for one signature, Since the Israelis wouldn’t acknowledge the existence of their people, at least a Notary could acknowledge their signature twice to compensate. What is wrong with this picture?

(a) The Palestinians wanted to trade one Israeli signatures they had captive for two hundred Palestinian signatures as a peace initiative.
(b) The signer is the only one who can acknowledge a signature, not a Notary.
(c) An Israeli Notary will not acknowledge a Palestinian signature until they acknowledge the State of Israel’s signature.
(d) Yes, a single signature can be acknowledged multiple times, but it is the signer who does the acknowledging.

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Quiz – you know you’re a good notary when you…
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=14912

30 point quiz – Jeopardy
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=14557

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January 27, 2019

Witnessing a Will

Filed under: Technical & Legal — Tags: , — admin @ 3:53 am

It is traditional procedure for Will signings to be witnessed. Normally, there would be two witnesses over the age of eighteen to witness the signing of a Will. In Vermont, there would need to be three witnesses. It is not a bad idea, but not necessary to have a Notary Public be one of the witnesses.

A Notary Public does not normally notarized the principal’s signature on a Will unless an Attorney asks them to in writing. However, it is not a bad idea for a Notary Public to notarized the signatures of the witnesses at a Will signing for a Last Will and Testament.

It is very critical for a will to be signed using the same name variation that is printed below the signature line. It is also critical that the signature is dated appropriately. The signature must be at the end or bottom of the document. Witnesses must not only sign, but also print their name very clearly and legibly below their signatures and the date.

It is a good practice for the witnesses to inscribe (write) their address and perhaps phone number as well should they need to be contacted by investigators at any time for any reason. The witnesses should not only see the principal signer sign, but should also witness each other sign.

When choosing witnesses, be advised that they might have to be questioned or even appear in court after the fact. The closer their know you the better. However, the fact that they know you and/or watched you sign is technically enough. The witnesses should not have a beneficial interest or financial interest in the signing of the Will. So, it is better to have people know you, but not people who are inheriting money, rights or property from you as witnesses to the signing.

Once the will is signed, you should make photocopies, and can consider having your Attorney, executors, and/or document custodians have possession of the copies. Please consult your Attorney to make sure you have the correct party having possession of your will. And if amendments need to be made, the document custodian will need to have the revised edition. The actual documents should be saved in a safe, dry place — perhaps a file drawer or lock box.

You might also like:

Witnessing a Will
https://www.netlawman.co.uk/ia/sign-will

Witnessing a Will according to LegalZoom
https://info.legalzoom.com/rules-witnessing-20722.html

Preparing to sign a last will and testament
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19967

Living Will vs. Medical Power of Attorney
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=18966

Can a Notary witness a will or notarize one?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=1525

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November 21, 2018

12 questions to ask for hospital notarizations

SAFETY TIPS AND 12 QUESTIONS TO ASK FOR HOSPITAL NOTARIZATIONS:
I get calls frequently for Notarizations in Jails and Hospitals.
This blog will focus on things you must do to protect yourself from lawsuits and damages when you get a desperate call to go out to a hospital to notarize documents to be signed by a patient, moistly a Power of Attorney. The phone call invariably comes from the child who has a parent admitted to the hospital.
What do you do as the Notary when the person calling says they will pay you whatever you charge as your mobile fee? Remember Rule #1: It is not always about the money. It is about your ability to follow the Notary laws and perform your job without taking short cuts.
The following list of questions is a short summary of the steps I have actually taken when I got such a call.

1. What is your relationship to the patient?
2. Do you have any other siblings or relatives who have a beneficial interest in the transaction?
3. Is the patient conscious? Coherent? On any medication?
4. Does the patient have a current valid ID with him or can you make it available when the notary arrives at the hospital?
5. Is the patient able to sign his name without any help?
6. Does the patient speak English and can he understand and answer simple questions coherently?
7. Does the patient have an attending physician and a Nurse assigned to him?
8. Do you have the number to the attending physician and nurse because I need to talk to them to get an accurate idea of the health and overall condition of the patient?
9. When can I talk to the patient directly by phone with a nurse present in the room?
10. What type of document are you having notarized?
11. What dates and times work for the patient?
12. My mobile fees are _____ and $15/signature notarized. After I get there if I make the determination that the person is unable to understand anything I ask him or is being forced to sign, I will not be able to notarize the document but will still charge you my mobile fee for coming out based on your representations over the phone. Are you okay with that because I don’t want to get into any arguments after I get there?

Believe me there has been more than one occasion I can recall where I had to leave without notarizing a document because the patient was unable to understand anything I asked, was incoherent and simply could not sign or even hold a pen to just mark an “X”. It is better to walk away from a Notarization where you know instinctively that it is wrong because the signer is not aware of what he is signing and inevitably you will end up being a party to a litigation by interested parties who believe that the Notary failed to take into account the coherence and soundness of mind of the signer at the time of the Notarization. This would invalidate your notarization and worse yet force you to pay legal expenses to defend yourself. Is it worth it? Absolutely not!

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When to ask for ID over the phone & fees at the door
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=15282

A tale of four notaries at hospitals
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=463

Hospital Notary jobs from A to Z
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=76

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September 25, 2018

Penalties for Notary misconduct, fraud, and failure of duty

Filed under: Notary Mistakes — Tags: , , — admin @ 11:23 am

Notaries by and large do not willfully engage in any type of illegal activity or illegal notarizations. The normal types of crimes Notaries commit are due to complete ignorance of Notary procedure, Oaths, and certificates. The only serious and purposeful crime I have ever heard of a Notary associated with us committing was one that assisted someone in fraud concerning real property — and the Notary ended up in jail. Please keep in mind that Notary law is different in every state and changes all the time as well. Penalties and fines for Notary misconduct are different in each state, California being the most stringent.

Negligent vs. Willful Misconduct

In California, the penalties are much more severe for Notaries who have engaged in willful misconduct rather than just making a careless mistake or omission.

Failure to keep your seal & journal under lock and key.
In California this is very serious and is a crime. You can keep your Notary equipment in a bag with a small lock that locks the zippers together. If you are the only one with access to your car, then the trunk of your car could work as well.

Unauthorized Practice of Law
The definition of UPL differs from state to state. However, offering opinions on legal matters or offering to draft legal documents might constitute UPL. For a professional opinion — ask an Attorney!

Asking a notary to do an improper notarization.
This is a misdemeanor in California. If it involves real property, then it is much more serious. Clients might ask you to notarize their signature using a different name variation that is not documented on their identification, or put a false date. This is illegal. They would guilty for asking you to do this, and you would be guilty if you give in to their pressure. If you have driven forty minutes to a signing job, in a sense you have a beneficial interest in notarizing their document unless you have gotten your travel fee up front when you walk in the door. So, to be prudent and avoid this issue, you MUST get your travel fee BEFORE you see the document, or are informed who the signers are, or see their ID, because a conflict of interest can easily happen. If someone asks you to do something illegal, you can threaten to report them to the Secretary of State’s office. This is a serious crime and you should treat it as such.

Issuing a false certificate
A notary who signs and seals false certificates, and this could include backdated certificates would be guilty of a misdemeanor. A false Acknowledgment certificate constitutes FORGERY. Additionally, the notary public could have their commission revoked if found guilty of this crime, with an additional fine of $1500 per incident in California (fines change over time so look this up in the statues).

Failure to Identify a Credible Witness
A fine of $10,000 per incident could occur if a notary fails to check a credible witness’s identification documents and see that they have acceptable identification.

Failure to get a thumbprint!!!
This is my favorite. Thumbprints are critical for identifying a signer if fraud is suspected. Powers of Attorney and Deeds require a journal thumbprint in California. A fine of up to $2500 per incident would be the penalty. Most other states do not require thumbprints, and Texas and Florida actually recommend against thumbprinting as those states do not trust Notaries with biometric data which is the only foolproof way to identify a signer. How ironic!

Failure to administer an Oath
A fine of $750 per incident could be incurred, not to mention revocation, or suspension of a notary commission, or refusal to grant a commission. I heard that some Notaries in Oklahoma had to go to court for a loan document signing in question. The Judge found out that the Notaries had not administered Oaths on the Affidavits in the loan package. I heard that the Judge overturned the loan and had the Notaries commissions permanently revoked by their state.

Felony Convictions
If you have a felony conviction or have been convicted of a crime involving dishonesty or moral turpitude, you will most likely not be allowed to get a notary commission in the first place. If you already had a notary commission, it would be suspended or revoked the minute your state’s ntoary division finds out about it!

Professional Misconduct
This refers to dishonesty in your professional activities. The penalty would once again be suspension, revocation, or refusal to grant a notary commission.

Failure of Duty
This means that you refuse to serve a member of the public who has a legitimate request for a notarization. However, if the signer doesn’t have proper identification, or doesn’t have a properly filled out document, or seems very questionable, you have the right to refuse service to such a client. The penalty would be refusal to grant a notary commission, suspension, or revocation of a notary commission. Additionally a fine of $750 could be imposed on the California notary public.

Falsely Acting as a Notary
This is a misdemeanor. Borrowing someone’s Notary seal and doing Notary work is a serious crime. If you are a Notary, keep your seal and journal locked up.

Making false statements to a notary
Anyone who induces a notary to make an improper notarization with regards to real property can be found guilty of a FELONY. This is the most serious type of fraud possible in the notary profession.

False or misleading notary advertising
Making false statements in notary advertising is illegal, and the penalty for a California Notary is $1500 per incident. Additionally, such a notary’s commission could be suspended, revoked, terminated, or there could be a refusal to issue a commission. Claiming to be an immigration expert, or be able to give legal advice could be a serious example of false advertising and perhaps unauthorized practice of law.

Selling personal information
It is illegal for the notary sells or misuses personal information of those he/she has notarized. Remember to keep your journals locked up, so that nobody can have access to that information. When making copies of journal entries, make sure that the neighboring journal entries are covered, so that their information is not shared with the public. Once again, your application could be denied, or your commission could be revoked or suspended for this type of crime.

Misstatements on a notary application (Application misstatement)
Your notary commission could be suspended, revoked, or refused if you are guilty of this misconduct

Here are some other crimes… I will just list them here, but may or may not describe the penalties.

Failure to deliver a journal to the county clerk at the end of your commission. – misdemeanor
Failure to safeguard seal and journal – revoke/suspend/refuse
Failure to report a lost or damaged seal – $1500 fine
Nonpayment of judgement / Refusal to pay child support – refusal to issue a commission
Failure to keep a journal – such notaries will be prosecuted

There are a few others laws that I am not going to mention, but these were the interesting ones…

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A Notary loses $4000 in legal fees because someone changed a name on a certificate

Notary loses $4000 in legal fees because fraud adds name to Acknowledgment certificate.

All you need to know about notary work

All you need to know about notary work

How to complain about a notary public

How to complain about a notary public

Notary Fines and Penalties

Notary Fines & Notary Penalties (gulp)

Fraud and Forgery in the Notary Profession

Fraud & Forgery related to the notary profession

Notary Public General Information

Notary Public Information

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August 3, 2018

Notary Public 101 — Scenarios: Hospital signing issues

Filed under: Technical & Legal — Tags: — admin @ 6:48 am

Have you ever done a signing in a hospital? You should be prepared, because one day you might do it. There are many issues that come up in hospital signings. First of all, it is common to have to decline service because the signer has been medicated, or has lost their mind. As a Notary, you should be aware that you can easily be subpoenaed for hospital signings as it is common for people to not remember what they signed and for people to try to take advantage, so be cautious.

As a Notary you need to be able to gauge the situation over the phone before you commit to coming, and once again gauge the situation once you are in front of the signers. The person who calls you to come to the hospital is almost never the signer, but usually a family member, Attorney, or scam artist.

Confirming the appointment.
Have your contact person read the name as it appears on the ID, and the expiration date (the expiration date of the card, or the patient, whichever comes first). Then, have the contact person read how the name appears on the document. Not only are you checking if names match, but if they even have an ID, know where it is, and have their document all ready. Confirm that they will not be medicated before you come and make sure the nurses know that the notary job is off if they medicate at all.

Once at the appointment.
Get travel fees at the door. Otherwise you will have a beneficial interest (in my opinion) in having the document signed. When you meet the signer, you can ask them questions about the document being signed. Don’t ask yes/no questions. Ask questions that make them explain the document to you. You can also make small talk about how you love what President Clinton did yesterday. If they are on the ball, they will know that President Clinton is no longer in office. You need effective ways to screen out people on morphine and those who have lost their mind. You should also ask if they have been medicated in the last twelve hours.

Comments
It is not your job to decide who gets morphine and when. However, if a signer does get medicated, let the contact person know that you will walk off with their travel fee as you do not dare notarize a medicated person who is not fully conscious, especially on a Power of Attorney.

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You might also like:

A tale of four notaries in hospitals
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=463

Putting jails & hospitals in your profile’s notes section
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19266

Power of Attorney in a nursing home
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2305

Do you like your job? A story of being kept waiting forever at a hospital.
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April 29, 2018

Do I need $1 million (E&O) insurance to get more Notary business?

Do I need $100,000 or $1 million in Errors & Omission (E&O) insurance to get more Notary business?
It is not uncommon for some companies to require that a Notary have more than the standard amount of E&O Insurance. There is no state mandated minimum for E&O unlike a Notary Bond where the law requires every Notary to file an official bond for $15,000 which is designed to pay limited claims against the Notary Public.

But please make no mistake. All Notaries must carry some form of E&O insurance to protect themselves from unintentional errors and omissions they make. Of course, E&O policies will not cover fraudulent acts or intentional errors. Without E&O Insurance, you will have to pay for the cost of the judgment or settlement and your own legal expenses. The financial impact can force a Notary to renounce his/her Notary commission and possibly even declare bankruptcy depending upon then severity of the error.

The high coverage of an E&O policy is based on the false perception that the companies would get a better class of Notary or that they are protected from any and all errors made by the Notary. This is farthest from the truth. I have more than 20 years of experience being a Notary and have never increased my E&O Insurance above the standard amount of $15,000/- primarily for 2 reasons. First, the number of companies requiring $100,000 or even $1 million in E&O Insurance are few and far between and the number of jobs that a Notary gets does not make up for the increased premium for the additional coverage. Second, the E&O policy only covers clerical errors and does not cover any fraudulent acts committed by the Notary. As a matter of practice, I double and sometimes triple check my work and am always cautious of the people who appear before me for a notarization. More importantly, I never do anything that even has the appearance of a scam or fraud. I have no intention of being someone’s boyfriend with no escape clause!!

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You might also like:

The 30 point course – beneficial interest and E&O Insurance
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=14532

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Help, I’m being sued, and E&O insurance won’t help!
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=3570

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April 4, 2018

123notary Elite Certification Study Guide

Filed under: Loan Signing 101 — Tags: , — admin @ 12:24 am

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ELITE CERTIFICATION

To get elite certification, you need to do well on the regular certification topics, and then know a lot more. Here are the items we quiz about for elite certification. We test by phone for the elite, and if you study hard and know your basic documents, scenarios, and Notary knowledge plus the content on this page, you could pass.

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Documents you have to understand intimately

Recorded Documents
Riders
Subordination Agreement
Residency Affidavit
Owners Affidavit
Deed of Reconveyance
Deed of Trust
CD & HUD-1
Please read the details of the required documents. Read more…

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Procedures or Acts to Understand

Signature by X or Mark — read more…
Apostilles and Authentications — read more…

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Other Terms or Information
Please click on the links below to get detailed information on the following points.

The term Elizor — read points 23 on this link. An Elizor is a court appointed official that can sign over property when the owner refuses to cooperate in court.

Explaining beneficial & financial interest. A Notary may not have beneficial interest or financial interest in anything he is notarizing. A beneficial interest could be construed as …

Federal Holidays in chronological order (memorize these). Let’s start with New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Day, Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Independence Day …

Fraud Prevention & types of fraud that happen in the Notary world. Falsified identification, incorrect dates on certificates, using someone else’s Notary seal …

Authority – Who has the highest level of authority if there is a question about a notary act or document at a signing? The Notary is the authority as to how a notary transaction happens, but…

Annual Percentage Rate — a detailed understanding is required. The APR is based on the amount borrower after certain (but not all) fees and closing costs have been deducted, and expressed as a …

Pros & Cons: — Adding an Acknowledgment rather than fixing the original. if there is a mistake on a preprinted form. It is cleaner to add a new form, but there can be recording fee issues involved…

What to do if John & Sally’s names are inscribed in an Acknowledgment by the Lender and Sally can’t make it. — Cross out or add a new form? This is similar to the last point, but there are some extra snags…

Handling name variations and discrepencies such as: ID Name, vs. Typed Name, Signature on Doc, and Name on Ack. Relationship between these names if they don’t exactly match. The main thing is to obey the law first…

Understanding dates such as: Transaction Dates, Signature Dates, Rescission Dates, and Document Dates… A transaction date is the same as a signature date, but a document date is arbitrarily chosen, but by whom?

Loan Signing FAQ’s that Borrowers ask. FAQ’s have been greatly reduced by Lenders being required to explain documents to the borrowers in advance. But, you still might be asked why the APR is …

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October 17, 2017

Notary Public 101 — Certificates

Return to table of contents for Notary Public 101.

You might also like: 10 tight points on loose certificates.

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NOTARIAL CERTIFICATES

There are certificates for various types of Notary acts. Acknowledgments, Jurats, Proofs of Execution. Some states even have certificates for Oaths and Affirmations. Let’s focus on Acknowledgment Certificates for now.

There are various parts of an Acknowledgment form.

(1) The venue. The venue is normally on the upper part of a certificate. In California now there is some verbiage in a box that I am not trained in. But, above the boiler plate wording there is a venue which documents the county and state. Is a venue the county where you did a transaction or two lines of information in a form? Both! However, the documentation of the venue is the one in the certificate and it is informally called the venue and not the documentation of the venue.

(2) The date. The date is a field the Notary is often held responsible to fill in. The date falls into the area of the boiler-plate wording of the form which is standardized wording from your state or perhaps another state.

(3) The names of the signers. As a Notary, you need to input the names of the signers or affiants into the Notary certificate if required. Sometimes it doesn’t make it clear whose name goes in the form. If it says, “Subscribed and sworn to before me by,” then after the “by” put the name of the affiant or signer otherwise you will ruin the form.

(4) The name of the Notary. The name of the Notary once again is entered into the boiler-plate wording area.

(5) Pronouns, singulars and plurals. Each state has a different wording for Notary certificates for each act. However, it is common and typical to have some sort of Notary verbiage that includes he/she/they executed the instrument, his/her/their signature(s), or his/her/their authorized capacity(ies). The critical thing here is to cross out the incorrect words and leave the correct wording. If you do a notarization for John, then cross out the her and their and the (s) assuming John only signed once. If you do a signing for Bruce Jenner then use a special form called the T-acknowledgment which says he/she/it’s complicated/they

(6) Testimonium Clause. Where it says “witness my hand and official seal,” that is called the testimonium clause. Below the boiler plate wording is the signature area where you sign and then affix your notarial seal. And by the way, “Locus Sigilli” means the location of the seal.

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CHANGES TO CERTIFICATES

Making any change on a Notary certificate is messy in my opinion. You can consider crossing out and initialing wrong information. Remember that ONLY the Notary can initial or write on the certificate forms and the signer cannot touch it. However, it is cleaner to create a new certificate using an Acknowledgment that you get from a pad that you keep your Notary bag. That way you can start all over, fill the form out correctly and then staple it to the document in question.

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ADDING LOOSE CERTIFICATES

If you notarize a document that either does not have acceptable Notary wording or doesn’t have any Notary wording (or wrong information on the form) then you might want to add a loose certificate from your pad of certificates that you purchased from the NNA (recommended). Additionally, if there is no room for your seal in some pre-existing Notary verbiage, you might be forced to add a certificate for logistical reasons.

You might also like this blog article:
Sending loose certificates in the mail is generally illegal!

If you add a loose certificate, the certificate must be filled out thoroughly. This means that in addition to the legally required verbiage, you fill out the ADDITIONAL INFORMATION section. The additional information section includes:

Document name — if you don’t put the name of the document on your loose certificate, it might be unstapled and added to a wrong document by accident or on purposes.

Document date — if you don’t put the document date, your certificate might be added to a different document with the same name by accident or fraudulently.

Number of Pages — if you put nine pages, then it will be hard for a fraud to swap the certificate and put it on a similar document with eight pages.

Other Signers — You can name the other signers on the document.

Capacities — California no longer allows this, but you can mention if any of the signers are signing as Attorney in Fact or some other capacity.

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EMBOSSERS

Cautious Notaries often use an embosser when notarizing. You can use an inked seal and also a non-ink embosser that leaves a raised seal. If someone photo copies your certificates, the embossed impression will not show up in the photocopy. Additionally, you can emboss each page of a document to discourage page swapping.

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AUTHORITY

If there is a disagreement between a Title company involved in a transaction and a Notary regarding what venue or information goes in an Acknowledgment or Jurat certificate, the Notary has absolute authority. The Notary may ask for the Title company’s preference if there are two legal ways of doing something such as crossing out and initialing vs. adding on a loose certificate if there is an error. However, it is the Notary who is legally responsible for filling out the form and it is the Notary who will end up in court if there is a problem.

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WHO TO ASK FOR HELP WITH CERTIFICATES

If the Notary does not know what to do when filling in forms or notarizing, do NOT ask the Lender or Title companies as they have a beneficial interest in the transaction AND because they are not experts in the field. The tiel rep might be a Notary, but not necessarily in your state, and not necessarily an informed Notary. Title and Lenders will typically tell you whatever it takes to get the job done whether it is legal, recommendable, safe, or kosher, or not. They don’t care just as long as their loan goes through and YOU, the Notary are the one who gets locked up if you did something illegal just as long as it is your seal on the page.

If you need help with a Notary problem, consult your state’s Notary division as a first resource and the NNA hotline as your next resource. I would be very wary about trusting anyone else.

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