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July 20, 2019

Father and daughter notary event

Filed under: Humorous Posts — admin @ 4:42 am

In another article I wrote about a father and daughter notary team. But, what about a father and daughter notary event? What would the activities be?

ANNOUNCER: Now, it is time for the embossing contest. Which team can emboss the most amount of pages in living wills?

GIRL: Don’t those have about 60 pages per document?

ANNOUNCER: Yes!

GIRL: I’ll try and I hope I LIVE through it otherwise I will need a living will.

ANNOUNCER: Actually then you will need a dying will.

GIRL: Oh, I’m dying to get one of those.

FATHER: Honey, I don’t think you need one of those quite yet. You just turned 18 and are only on your first commission. You won’t expire yet unless you get hit by a truck on the way to an Affidavit signing. Hey, it happens. That is why I got you a car with airbags.

GIRL: Isn’t my father great?

ANNOUNCER: Now it is time for the refill the notary stamp with ink competition. Ready, set, ink up!

GIRL: This competition is so messy. I wish I could skip it but it is such good practice. I might need to do this in real life.

FATHER: Might? You need to do it every year if you stay busy.

GIRL: I’ll stay busy. I’m on the database for 200 low-balling signing companies. If my price is low enough, they will work me into the ground and then not pay me.

FATHER: Sounds like a good long term plan… not! Make sure they pay you before you do anything more for them.

ANNOUNCER: Now it is time for the jump on the notary stamp contents. You make a giant stamp in this twenty foot long piece of paper.

FATHER: I’m so out of shape. I really need to get to the gym more.

ANNOUNCER: This is just like a gym and will get you in shape. Do jump to stamp daily and you will lose a pound a week.

GIRL: Okay, I’m jumping… how was that stamp? Oops, I bet the county recorder won’t like that one. I hate having to stand on this giant stamp.

ANNOUNCER: And the winner of the day is Jack Stampman… great name for a Notary by the way.

You might also like:

Should you include Kleenex in your notary bag?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=22584

The notary apologizing game
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=22576

A notary class where the students make lots of wise cracks
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=22570

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July 7, 2019

Notary vs. Hitman: Dollars per minute

Filed under: Marketing Articles — admin @ 2:47 am

Have you ever stopped to think about the pay differential between a Notary and a hit man? Notaries are always complaining that they don’t get paid enough and don’t get any respect. You would get respect if you were a hit man though. You could even advertise on one of those hit man websites.

Hit man profile (fictional… of course!)
I am responsible and reliable. Once you hire me the job is as good as done. I always confirm my appointments, show up on time, and hire a professional cleaner who I call, “Da cleanuh.” All I ask is to be paid on time, otherwise you might end up being on my list of assignments… capiche? Just make sure you include a return FeDex package with every assignment, and let me know if the job has any special considerations or if you want me to do the job in a particular special way. I’m experienced with guns, knives, clubs, bats, maces, machetes, numchucks, strangulation (for an additional fee), and more. Long distance no problem and we specialize in bilingual hits. Hablamos Espanol y Italiano. Additionally, if you hired the wrong guy to save money and he left work uncompleted, I do clean ups as well.

If you don’t pay a Notary, they just sit and whine. But, if you don’t pay a hit man, guess what happens. Hit men get respect — Notaries don’t. Of course Notaries spend less time in jail in general unless you are like Harry who engaged in Real Estate fraud using his Notary seal – don’t be like Harry.

A Notary can make $20 to $40 average per hour doing signings depending on what the job is, and how far it is. But, a hit man might get $50,000 for a job that might take a few hours to plan and an hour to “execute.” There is more risk involved, and probably more skill. But, look at the bright side, as a hit man, you don’t have to deal with the county recorder or the IRS! A hit man’s salary could be computed as $100 per minute if you work out the math. A good hit man only needs to do two or three jobs per year and the rest of the year can be taken off lounging at an Italian villa, or in a not so Italian jail cell. Such an efficient use of time.

So, the basic break down is 50 cents a minute being a Notary vs. $100 per minute being a hit man with possible jail time. Which do you choose? But, there’s more. Hit men end up in hell making it not worth it no matter what they get paid. Notaries go to whiners purgatory where they whine about not getting paid, but at least don’t get burned in scalding oil every day. So, you are better off being a Notary, so try to learn to be good at it.

You might also like:

How far do you push for payment terms?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=22590

Payment for jail notary service
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=22145

Notarizing the Mafia at a gelato place
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=22163

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February 26, 2019

Notary Public Seal

Most states require a Notary Public to have a Notary Seal or Notary Stamp. This is normally a rectangular shaped seal.

The seal should have the Notary’s name, commission number, expiration date, county, and state. It would also have some type of border such as a straight line, milled, or serrated. The seal should be used with ink. Some states allow for a secondary non-inked embosser that leaves a raised impression on pieces of paper for security reasons as these cannot be fraudulently photocopied.

Your notary seal’s impression should not be smudgy or the document could be rejected by the county recorder’s office. Please be sure to re-ink your seal as necessary so your notary seal’s (notary stamp’s) impression does not get too light.

You might also like:

Notary seal information from A to Z
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=8337

A forged document vs. a forged notary seal
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=10391

My stolen identity and the fraudulent notary seal
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=20753

Miami-Vice, a shipment of illegal notary seals
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19927

Two and a half Notaries — the intercontinental notary seal
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=10432

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January 5, 2019

A forged Notary seal ends someone up with a prison sentence

A man from Glendale, CA earned himself a ten year prison sentence by forging a Notary seal in an attempted to conduct a 5.4 million dollar Mortgage fraud scheme. There were two co-conspirators who each served sentences themselves. One was for 6.5 years and the other for 4. years.

The fact that the criminal had altered an “authentication feature,” made the sentencing longer according to federal guidelines. The criminal used falsified documents using his false seal to fool county recorders.

Crimes like this involving Notaries engaging in fraud relating to real property (such as houses, etc.) are the worst crimes that a Notary can commit and normally end up in jail time. There are other things Notaries typically do wrong like falsifying dates on certificates which can also get you in a lot of trouble. Notaries typically do not administer Oaths correctly, or at all which can result in your commission being revoked. As a Notary, you really need to consider the fact that if you fool around with your commission, it can be taken away from you.

There was another case where a Sacramento Notary was involved in a 19 million dollar fraud scheme by impersonating NNA’s 2007 Notary of the Year. The perpetrator fled to Lebanon and was arrested upon re-entering the United States. Sampson, the Notary whose name was fraudulently used protected herself by showing her journal to prove that she had not performed those notarizations.

Let this be a lesson to those who say, and often in a whiny voice, “My state doesn’t require journals.” Without that journal, you could be accused of conspiracy in a 19 million dollar fraud scheme or identity fraud, or worse…

You might also like:

See our string of posts about Notary fraud
http://blog.123notary.com/?s=notary+fraud

California man pleads guilty in stolen Notary ID case.
https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2012/01/california-guilty-notary-id-case

What is the burden of proof for Notary fraud?
https://www.avvo.com/legal-answers/what-is-a-burden-of-proof-for-a-notary-fraud-in-ca-2629309.html

Notary Public Seal
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=21411

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What is the penalty for notary fraud?
Notary Fraud California
Notary Fraud New York
Notary Fraud Florida
Can a Notary be sued for fraud?
Fraudulent Notarization Pennsylvania
Fraudulent Notarization California
Fraudulent Notarization New York
What is the legal charge for witness and notary for fraudulent signatures
What is the punishment for an attorney notarizing a fraudulent document?
What to do about a fraudulent notary signature

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December 24, 2018

Acknowledgment FAQ

Filed under: Notary Acts & Certificates — admin @ 9:39 am

What is an Acknowledgment? Or, should I say, what is a Notary Acknowledgment or Notarized Acknowledgment? Why is it missing the “e” after “g”? Is that a typo, and should it be spelled Acknowledgement? No, it is not a typo.

Notaries commissioned in the various fifty states have a variety of Notary acts that they may perform. Some are common ones that are practices in virtually every state, although they sometimes have name variations and sometimes the rules for these acts can change slightly from state to state as well.

Common Notary acts that are almost completely universal include:

Acknowledgments — an act where the signer acknowledges having sign a document and acknowledges in the physical presence of the notary public, but does not have to sign in front of the Notary except in a handful of states (it’s complicated).

Jurats — an act where the signer or “affiant” must sign the document in the physical presence of the Notary Public as well as swear or affirm under the penalty of perjury to the truthfulness of the content of the document.

Oaths — a purely verbal act where the affiant must swear under Oath under God to the truthfulness of an oral or written statement.

Affirmations — a purely verbal act where the affiant must affirm under Oath on their honor to the truthfulness of an oral or written statement. Please note that Oaths and Affirmations are not the same act, but can be used interchangeably and carry the same legal weight and significance.

How does a signer Acknowledge their signature?
Does the signer say, “I hereby proclaim that I, the party of the first part, the signing party withstanding , have signed the foregoing instrument herein, and thereto, and therefor acknowledge the same in my capacity as an individual so-on and so forth.” The truth of the matter is that you can simply place the signed document in front of the Notary Public (in most states, exceptions apply) and ask him if he/she can notarized it with an Acknowledgment, or you can just say, “I signed this, please notarize it.”

What are the requirements for Acknowledgment wording or Acknowledgment verbiage?
All states require some sort of Acknowledgment verbiage. The requirements differ from state to state. Many states require certain components or facts to be covered in the wording while others might require exact state specific wording. It is best to ask an Attorney what wording is necessary in your case. Many Notaries do not carry pads of Acknowledgments with them (although they should) and it is up to you to make sure that notarial wording is either embedded in the document or attached on a loose certificate that is stapled to the document.

Who can perform a Notary Acknowledgment?
As a general rule, a Judge, Notary, Justice of the Peace, and perhaps a few other legal professions may execute Acknowledgments. When in doubt, ask an Attorney for a state specific answer.

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
When I studied to be a Notary Public, my teacher said you Acknowledge a signature, Execute a Jurat and Administer an Oath. This is not true. The Notary is not the one who acknowledges signatures. The SIGNER acknowledges the signature and then the Notary CERTIFIES that the signer acknowledged the signature by virtue of filling out an Acknowledgment Certificate. Here are some basics on Acknowledgments.

1. The signer acknowledges having signed the particular document.

2. The signer must physically personally appear before the Notary for such an act.

3. The signer does NOT have to sign before the Notary according to most if not all states such as AK, IA, SC, SD, VT, and WV. Lenders might require the borrower to sign in the presence of the Notary, but that is a particular Lender’s standard and not necessarily a state standard or even a best practice.

4. The Notary must positively identify the signer using identification documents acceptable to their state which normally include Drivers Licenses, State issued identification photo ID’s, Passports, and Military ID’s. Other ID might be accepted on a state by state basis. You can look that up in your handbook. Also, see our section on identification.

5. The Notary should ideally keep a journal entry of all Notarial acts even if their state does not require this.

6. There should be Acknowledgment wording appropriate or acceptable to your state inscribed within the document, or you can attach a loose acknowledgment form with a staple.

7. After you fill out the certificate form, you sign and stamp the page (some states allow you to write in your seal information without a stamp.) Make sure your stamp is clear and not smudgy otherwise the county recorder has the right to reject the Notarization.

8. Note — some states require the Notary to ask the signer to attest to the fact that they signed the document in their own free will. Please be aware if your state has any unusual requirements or special wording on forms.

9. A California Notary faces many restrictions as to what type of out of state forms they can use. Please check the California Notary Handbook to see what you can accept and what you can’t otherwise you could get in trouble particularly if it is a recorded document.

10. There is an optional and additional information section in Acknowledgments which helps identify the document that the certificate corresponds to. This includes the document name, document date, number of pages, and other pertinent information.

Resources

Basic Notary Acts — Acknowledgments
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19500

Acknowledgment vs. Acknowledgement
http://grammarist.com/spelling/acknowledgment-acknowledgement/

Legal definition of Acknowledgment (does not necessarily apply to notary profession)
https://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/acknowledgment

Can you send a loose Acknowledgment?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=16168

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June 22, 2018

How do you get a Power of Attorney Document?

I run a Notary directory, and people who hire Notaries often have Power of Attorney documents of various descriptions. It is important to understand that not all Power of Attorney documents were created equal and there are legal standards as well as preferences of the document custodians that need to be taken into consideration.

Legal Considerations
Legally, you probably need to consult an Attorney to figure out what rights to grant to another person (grantee) and under what circumstances and what legal language to grant such powers. I cannot assist with this because I am not an Attorney, and even if I were, I would probably not be practicing in your state.

Document Custodian Considerations
Document custodians are another party that you have to please with Powers of Attorney. A document custodian is the party that accepts your document. For example, if you get a POA for a particular bank, they will want a Banking Power of Attorney done their way which often means using their forms and not some form you got at a stationary store that looks equally good to you. The custodian has the right to choose what type of form they want in many instances.

Recording Documents
I am not an Attorney and do not know if/when/how/why Power of Attorney forms are recorded at your county’s county recorder. But, find out if you need to record it in their files ahead of time. There is normally a fee for this and it involves a visit to a government office, standing in line, not knowing what room to go to, etc.

Types of Powers of Attorney.
There are Medical Powers of Attorney, Durable Powers of Attorney where you can switch powers on an off sometimes, Banking Power of Attorney documents, and Limited Powers of Attorney as well. Living Wills are yet another specialized type of Medical Power of Attorney that deal specifically with what happens if the Grantor becomes incapacitated or is unable to make their own decisions while bedridden, etc.

Drafting of Documents
Normally, it is a good idea to consult with an Attorney before creating a Power of Attorney. Since it is a legal document, you cannot have any old person draft it for you. It should be an Attorney, or someone legally authorized to draft documents which rules out most Notary Public practitioners. Banks normally use their own forms, so ask the bank what form they require. Additionally, there are legal support firms who employ Legal Assistants, Paralegals, and a few who outsource low paying legal work to New Delhi where they do a very good job at a third of the cost. You can ask these types of agencies what they recommend and who is authorized to draft your document. Your best bet however, is an Attorney if you can afford it. Even if the Attorney doesn’t draft the document him/herself, at least he/she is supervising and taking responsibility for it which makes it potentially a lot safer for you to get a quality output.

Notarizing Documents
Any commissioned Notary Public can notarize your document in their state of commission. Please do not expect or ask the Notary to explain or understand any legal document. Non-Attorney Notaries may not give specific interpretations or explanations of documents other than general statements (in certain states) about what the document is generally about with no specifics mentioned. The Notary’s job is simply to check your ID, make sure you signed the document, the journal (required in most states, recommended by us in any state as that is your only written evidence of the notarial transaction), and fill out certificate forms that correspond to your document.

Legal Technical Terms
If you are creating a Power of Attorney, there is a lot of legalese which an Attorney can help you understand. The main terms are:

Grantor — the person giving power to another
Grantee — the person receiving special powers from the document
Agent — another name for the person who receives power and can complete tasks for the Grantor.
Principal — the main person signing the document who is the Grantor by definition.
Attorney in Fact — the most commonly used term for the agent / person receiving power of attorney.
Capacity — If you have special powers or a special position in a company, that can be described as a capacity. Being an Attorney in Fact or AIF is considered a capacity that can be indicated on certain Notary forms.

Signing in your capacity as Attorney in Fact.
There are eight ways that I have seen to sign as an Attorney in Fact. Please be advised that the particular verbiage is very particular and can be decided by an Attorney or document custodian. If they want it one way, and you sign with even one comma out of place, the entire document might be rejected and need to be resigned. Here are some common ways to sign, but ask your contact person before you sign anything, as the verbiage does matter.

John Smith, as Attorney in Fact for Sally Smith
Sally Smith, by John Smith, her Attorney in Fact
John Smith, POA for Sally Smith
John Smith, AIF for Sally Smith

Summary
In some of these variations, the signer signs the name of the other person (which I am not comfortable with) and then describes their capacity. In other variations, you sign your own name, and then indicate your capacity after a comma after your name. As always, I cannot and will not give legal advice, so, ask an Attorney before you have a Power of Attorney drafted, and before you sign the document and before you sign in your capacity as Attorney in Fact.

If you need a Mobile Notary Public, visit the advanced search page of 123notary.com and lookup by zip, city or county and find about 7000 Notaries Public nationwide, many of whom are very knowledgeable and experienced.

Good luck!

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You might also like:

Index of posts about Power of Attorney
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=20255

Power of Attorney of the Future
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=18948

Logic errors can cost you as a notary
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=20110

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April 2, 2018

Cross out and initial, or use a fresh form?

Filed under: Technical & Legal — admin @ 6:41 pm

Most Notaries like to cross-out and initial changes in certificates. Keep in mind that these are legal documents affecting million dollar properties. Cross-outs look like tampering. It is CLEANER to take a fresh acknowledgment form from your Notary bag, fill it out thoroughly including the additional information section with the name of the document, number of pages, etc., And then staple it on to the document. On the other hand, using a new form could change the recording fees for the loan which would affect the truthfulness of the information on the Closing Statement.

If there is a cross-out for a name on a certificate that is a quite serious legal issue. It could lead to complications should you ever go to court. It is your right to decide to use a fresh acknowledgment form and staple it on the document even if the Lender doesn’t want it that way. Lenders sometimes prefer to use the original form because it is inscribed within the document. But, also because a new form will be charged extra money from the county recorder. Lenders sometimes lose loose acknowledgment forms which is yet another reason many Lenders prefer to fix the original.

As a Notary, you may be faced with the unpleasant reality that the Lender may have already filled out your Acknowledgment form, and with wrong information. If the form says you are in Orange County when you are in Seminole, you cannot notarize that form as is. So, what do you do and what are the consequences?

I cannot tell you what your state laws allow or require, I can only tell you how to handle forms in a prudent way.

Fix the Existing Form
If you are going to fix the existing Acknowledgment, just cross-out the wrong information with a single line, write in the correct county, and the Notary initials. The borrowers can initial changes to documents, but should not initial changes to certificates unless your state says so in writing. Fixing the existing form has the advantage that there will not be any changes to the recording fee for the loan. If you start adding additional pieces of paper, that will change the information on the HUD or CD and open a can of worms which some Lenders don’t like. On the other hand it is cleaner to replace the form rather than to fix it as fixing it looks like potential tampering.

Replace the Form
To replace an Acknowledgment, just staple on a new Acknowledgment, fill it out, sign and seal. Please also fill out what is called the optional and additional information which is normally about the document such as number of pages, document date, etc.

Communication Errors
When I ask Notaries how to fix a wrong county on an acknowledgment, some of them tell me how to replace it. Fix and replace are not the same word, so please do not answer a different question from what I asked. Please also be aware of the benefits and costs of replacing the form rather than fixing it.

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You might also like:

The 30 point course – initialing
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=14463

The man who wouldn’t use his middle initial.
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=4040

What is the cleanest way to rectify an error on a certificate?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=20018

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November 7, 2017

The grace period after your signing

Filed under: Best Practices,Popular on Linked In — admin @ 1:03 am

Most Notaries are only concerned with making a living. It makes sense. I was the same way. This is why Notaries should get paid more so that they can be more conscientious and less worried about making a living.

After you do a signing, you might be needed for what the Japanese call, “Afta-sahvice.” That is their way of saying After-Service. After you do a signing, you might get emails and phone calls if there is something wrong. The Lender might need a tracking number. They might want to know about the ID of the signer. What if your stamp didn’t come out clear enough or what if you botched a notarization or missed a signature. Maybe the recorder objected to your seal which was too light in the corner. Even the best of Notaries make mistakes from time to time. The point is not to be perfect, but to be available (kind of like being a foster parent.)

I asked many Notaries this question:

“If you do a signing and want to go camping after the signing, how many days (if any) after you drop the Fedex in the drop box should you wait before you go camping or out of town, etc?”

Here are the answers.

1. None
(My commentary) You are leaving the signing company high and dry, but they are probably only paying you $60, so they deserve it.

2. Until they get the package.
(My commentary) The Title company might not realize there is a problem until a day or two after they get the package. Additionally, Title companies are notorious for unstapling notarized documents and losing acknowledgment forms stapled on. So, after they get the package isn’t long enough if you want to be considerate.

3. A day
(My commentary) The Title cmpany might not even get the package after a day. If you missed the Fedex cut off, and Fedex is slow, it might be two or three days before Title gets your package.

4. Two days
(My commentary) The Title company might just have gotten your package after two days. They won’t know there’s a problem until they review your work and it might sit on the secretary’s desk for a while.

5. Seven days
(My commentary) Why seven days? If the Title company gets the package it will be processed and the loan will close and fund within three to six days. Seven makes no sense at all. The person who said seven days did poorly on other questions.

6. Three days or until the rescission period is over
(My commentary) This answer is much more intelligent and well reasoned. If there is a problem, the processor will probably find it before the end of the rescission period which might be three or four days depending on whether or not a Sunday or Federal holiday.

7. Indefinitely
(My commentary) What? You are the servant of a signing company forever for a dumb $60 signing. This is like self-induced slavery. You can’t possibly mean that. Illogical. That person who said indefiniately failed my test by getting other answers wrong.

The “Correct” Answer
It seems to me that if there is a problem that requires the Notary to go back to the signing, it would reveal itself within the period of day two to day five. If the package did not arrive, on day two someone might request a tracking number which you should text them upon completion in any case — but, they might lose the text or the text might not go to the recipient but to the signing company. If there is a problem with a notarization it might be discovered on day two, three, or four, but most likely on day three. If there is a problem with the county recorder, it might not be detected for five to ten business days. The best answer for time sensitivity would be three to five days. However, if you need to go camping, you cannot just not do any signings for three to five days because you have to make a living. So, just let everyone you work for know your schedule ahead of time and let them know that they are responsible for the risk they are taking in hiring you when you will not be around to clean up any messes.

Use at your own risk!

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You might also like:

Notary Public 101 Scenarios: The Frank Camping Trip Question
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=20007

How to lose half your clients while on vacation!
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=596

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October 31, 2017

Notary Public 101 — Review Quick Pointers

Filed under: Loan Signing 101 — Tags: — admin @ 4:34 am

Return to the table of contents page of Notary Public 101

Here are some review pointers. Rather than teaching in index format like I usually do, these are quick facts you need to know. Besides those other facts your embarrassed parents thought you didn’t need to know.

An Affiant is someone who signs an Affidavit and swears under Oath. A Harvey Weinstein is someone who signs a check to a woman to hush her up and swears under his breath.

An Attorney in Fact is another way of saying Agent or Grantee for a power of attorney. An Attorney in Fiction is another way of saying Perry Mason.

A certificate is a form a Notary uses for executing Acknowledgments, Jurats, and other Notary acts that require a certificate. Florida and Texas use certificates for Oaths while most other states do not. You can buy certificates in pad format from the NNA and other vendors. You should keep these in your notary bag at all times because you WILL be using them.

A Principal is the main person who signs an Power of Attorney or who is signing a document that is notarized using the Proof of Execution procedure. It just means the main person who signs a document. Consider it your Notary bag of tricks. The other kind of principal is the person you’re sent to when you’re caught chewing gum in class. Memories!

The Venue is the part of the certificate where you document the state and county where the notarization is taking place. It is also the physical location where you might be at any point in time, especially during a notarization. On the other hand, if you pick up a Notary in a bar, the venue could be your place or mine.

In an Acknowledgment, the signer must acknowledge having signed a document in the physical presence of the Notary Public, but does not need to sign in front of the Notary (although Lenders prefer that they do.) Some lenders I know also prefer that the well-known phrase, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be,” NOT be acknowledged, because it would mean they no longer be!

In a Jurat, the affiant or signer must sign and swear to the truthfulness of the written statement or document in the presence of the Notary which is evident based on the Jurat wording, “Subscribed and Sworn to BEFORE ME.” Note that acknowledgments do not include the before me part when referring to signing. They also don’t include any swear words, so the “sworn to me” part is confusing.

Your Seal must be clear, complete and not smudgy and not have light or missing corners or you will be hearing from the county recorder and might have to redo your work. Seals may look smudgy even if they aren’t, if you forgot to wear your contacts.

It is illegal to omit an Oath or Affirmation when executing a Jurat. Many Notaries say that they never have to administer Oaths in their state. I’m not sure whether or not to believe them. But, you need to know how to do an Oath if you see the words, “Subscribed and SWORN to before me.”

Oaths begin with the verbiage, “Do you solemnly swear…” If you omit the term swear, then the proceding is not an Oath. Oaths are made under God while Affirmations are made on your personal honor. If you’re Harvey Weinstein, the personal honor part doesn’t apply. I affirm that will be my last Harvey Weinstein joke.

Affirmations use the verb “affirm” or “state” but not swear. If you swear it is not an Affirmation and if you affirm it is not an Oath.

Oral statements do not get the same Oath as a written document or statement. Do you solemnly swear that the statement you are about to make is true and correct is a good Oath verbiage for an oral statement, but would be completely wrong for a document Oath for obvious reasons. Don’t let the fact that oral hygiene is good and documented hygiene is also good confuse you.

In your Notary Journal create one entry per person per document. If there are two signers each signing three notarized documents, then enter six entries. Each one signed by the corresponding signer. And keep journal thumbprints just in case someone gives you a fake ID. (If you’re a liquor store owner and someone gives you a fake ID, give them your thumbprint down!) Keep additional notes if there is more than one document with the same name such as escrow numbers, addresses, or anything to distinguish the documents.

The purpose in keeping a journal is not so much to please your state although many states require this, it is to please the FBI & Judges as they will be the ones inspecting your journal if something goes wrong. (However there’s no pleasing some people, like my old girlfriend who complained when I had the toilet paper roll under, not over, and also when I had it over, not under.) California audits journals from time to time too and they will suspend you if you keep a bad journal or no journal.

If the identification does not prove a person’s identity then that is a questionable and possibly illegal notarization. Think of all the trouble you could get yourself into taking liberties notarizing. You could end up in court as a defendant. The ID does not have to exactly match the signature, but the name in the signature must be provable based on the ID. i.e. the ID says John William Smith and the signature on the document says, John W Smith — then it is provable and you should be okay. If your ID says “John Doe” and you’re checking into a hotel with a harlot, it isn’t provable but you should be okay if you wear protection.

Identification for the purposes of notarization should be government issued photo ID’s and be current (some states have exceptions to the current part.) A Social Security card or AKA statement is NOT acceptable for a Notary to use to identify a signer or verify a middle initial. If Social Security runs out in 30 years, you can use that to identify millennials’ middle fingers.

A thumbprint is the most unique and reliable way of identifying someone as a supplemental form of identification. Use a photo ID as a primary ID and thumbprint in your journal. That way if you are ever investigated you will have hard bio-metric data to find dangerous criminals. If the criminal had his thumb blown off, you’re on your own.

When doing a POA signing with an Attorney in Fact, there are multiple ways an AIF can sign. John, as attorney in fact for Sue. Sue, by John her POA, etc. To choose the right variation is NOT YOUR JOB. There are perhaps eight legally acceptable ways of doing the verbiage. It is up to the LENDER to decide which variation they want. Rely exclusively on them for this as choosing a variation is a matter of preference, and the loan will not go through if you goof on this. If you goof on your younger siblings, it’s perfectly normal.

Do NOT send loose certificates in the mail. You could end up in jail as it could be attached to anything. Certificates must be stapled to the document they correspond to — period! Do not send loose women in the mail unless she’s going to Harvey Weinstein. Darn! Okay, I promise, that’s the last Weinstein joke!

Do not ask Lenders or title people for notary advice. They will tell you what they want you to do which is often illegal and for their short term benefit. Rely on your state government and NNA’s hotline for reliable Notary knowledge. Other people are NOT experts at Notary law and might lead you astray by accident or for their convenience. Don’t trust anybody except Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. They don’t exist? Okay, don’t even trust them!

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October 17, 2017

Notary Public 101 — Basic Notary Acts

Return to table of contents for Notary Public 101.

BASIC NOTARY ACTS

Each state has a different list of official Notary acts. Some state handbooks don’t make it clear if certain actions are considered “official” notary acts or not. However, all states or the vast majority have Acknowledgments, Jurats, Oaths, and Affirmations. Many also have Protests and Proofs of Execution, while only a few have Witnessing, Attesting, immigration form filling, and depositions as acts. There are a few more acts I will not mention as they are obscure and very state specific. Let’s focus on the main acts that we will hold you responsible for knowing.

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

When I studied to be a Notary, my teacher said you Acknowledge a signature, Execute a Jurat and Administer an Oath. This is not true. The Notary is not the one who acknowledges a signature. The SIGNER acknowledges the signature and then the Notary CERTIFIES that the signer acknowledged the signature by virtue of filling out the Acknowledgment Certificate. Here are some basics on Acknowledgments.

1. The signer acknowledges having signed the document.

2. The signer must physically personally appear before the Notary for such an act.

3. The signer does NOT have to sign before the Notary according to most if not all states such as AK, IA, SC, SD, VT, and WV. Lenders might require the borrower to sign in the presence of the Notary, but that is a particular Lender’s standard and not necessarily a state standard or even a best practice.

4. The Notary must positively identify the signer using identification documents acceptable to their state which normally include Drivers Licenses, State issued identification photo ID’s, Passports, and Military ID’s. Other ID might be accepted on a state by state basis and you can look that up in your handbook. Also, see our section on identification.

5. The Notary should ideally keep a journal entry of all Notarial acts even if their state does not require this.

6. There should be Acknowledgment wording appropriate or acceptable to your state inscribed within the document, or you can attach a loose acknowledgment form with a staple.

7. After you fill out the certificate form, you sign and stamp the page (some states allow you to write in your seal information without a stamp.) Make sure your stamp is clear and not smudgy otherwise the county recorder has the right to reject the Notarization.

8. Note — some states require the Notary to ask the signer to attest to the fact that they signed in their own free will. Please be aware if your state has any unusual requirements or special wording on forms.

9. A California Notary faces many restrictions as to what type of out of state forms they can use. Please check the California Notary Handbook to see what you can accept and what you can’t otherwise you could get in trouble particularly if it is a recorded document.

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JURATS

Jurats are a Notary act where the signer or affiant by definition signs and swears (and/or sometimes affirms) before the Notary. Jurat wording differs from state to state. However, some basic verbiage includes the phrase, “Subscribed and sworn to before me.” What does this mean? This means that the document was signed in the physical presence of the Notary Public as well as sworn to before the Notary Public at the signing. In an Acknowledged signature you can sign prior to seeing the Notary, but you acknowledge before the Notary. A Jurat is completely different. Modern verbiage for Jurats sometimes says, “Subscribed and sworn or affirmed to before me.” This does not mean that you can administer an Oathfirmation and mix the Affirmation and Oath verbiage. This means that you can have the client choose if they want an Oath or Affirmation and do one or the other. Don’t mix these Notary acts unless your state specifically says you can.

Many Notaries are unaware that when executing a Jurat, you do need to administer an Oath particular to the document being signed. Please see our commentary on Oaths below. Failing to administer an Oath on a Jurat is illegal and could void the legal completeness of the document. Some states additionally will reserve the right to suspend your commission if you omit a legally required Oath.

“Subscribed and sworn to before me” is NOT Oath verbiage! That is the written documentation that you gave an Oath. When you ask the affiant to raise their right hand, do NOT utter the words, “subscribed and sworn to before me.” otherwise they will think you are an idiot and there will be no way for them to respond unless they repeat. Start an Oath with, “do you solemnly swear” after they have raised their right hand.

A good Oath for a document could be, “Do you solemnly swear under the penalty of perjury that the information in this document is true and correct to the best of your knowledge, so help you God?” Then the other person says, “I do.” Then you pronounce them “man and document” by the powers vested in you.

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OATHS

Not all Notarial acts include a written document or written certificate. Some are purely oral. Oaths and Affirmations are oral acts where most states do not have a certificate for the Oath. You should write in your journal if you administered an Oath and where it says, “Name of document” you should write that you gave an Oath about a particular topic. You do not write the actual verbiage of the Oath in your journal. You might write, “Oath regarding military duty” or “Oath of citizenship,” etc.

Oath verbiage is generally up to the Notary and few states have any actual requirements for what you should say. However, common sense and tradition dictate certain things about Oath verbiage.

Raise Your Right Hand — you traditionally have the signer raise their right hand before swearing under Oath.

Solemnly – it is traditional to ask the signer if they solemnly swear. An Oath is a solemn occassion and swearing to a Notary is as official as swearing to a judge in a court of law.

Swear — you must use the word “swear” in an Oath otherwise it is no longer an Oath.

Document or Statement — in an Oath you should make a reference to the content you are swearing to. It might be a document, or a statement you are about to me. Just make sure you reference the content in a way that makes sense. Asking someone to swear to “the information” is not as precise as asking them to swear to the truthfulness of “this document” while pointing to the document.

God — Oaths traditionally refer to God. If someone doesn’t like God, rather than remove God from the Oath, do an Affirmation INSTEAD of an Oath.

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Correct Oath wording for a Notary to make for a Document
“Please raise your right hand. Do you solemnly swear that the document you signed is true and correct to the best of your knowledge, so help you God?” — The answer would be, “I do.”

Wrong Oaths for a Document
“Do you solemnly swear that the statement you are about to make is true?”
“Do you solmenly swear that the information you provided is true?”

Commentary
If you are swearing to a document there is no statement you are about to make. There is a document you already signed that you swear to. You cannot swear to a statement you are not going to make — that is nonsense. The information in the document might have been provided by a Lender or Attorney, so don’t make them swear to WHO provided the information. Just have them swear that it is true.

Administering an Oath
When you are a Notary and you give or supervise an Oath to someone, you are administering an Oath. When you administer an Oath there are two ways to do it. You either ask an Oath question such as the ones mentioned above, or you say, “Repeat after me.” Repeating after me is really tenous as every three words the affiant has to repeat those words and it is like being six years old doing the pledge of allegience. How annoying!

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AFFIRMATIONS

An Affirmation is similar to an Oath. The are equal in their significance and used during the same situations. Affirmations are legal in most states. Check your state’s handbook to see if they are used in yours and if there is any state specific wording that you must use. However, you cannot mix and match the wording in an Affirmation. If your client wants to do an Affirmation, you use the word Affirm or State rather than swear, and you do not mention God. Leave God out of it! Other than that, the verbiage is the same as an Oath, so help you nobody!

To better understand choosing Oaths vs. Affirmations or mixing them up together read this fun article about Airline Meals versus Oaths and Affirmations.

To administer an Affirmation for a document just say, “Do you solemnly affirm or state that the information in this document is correct?” or for a purely oral statement just say, “Do you solemnly affirm or state that the statement you are about to give is true and correct?”

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PROOF OF EXECUTION

Not all states allow proofs of execution, but it is a traditional Notary act that I would like you to know about. In a proof of execution, the principal who is the one who signs the document signs when a subscribing witness is witnessing his signature. The definition of a subscribing witness is one who watches someone else sign. Then the subscribing witness appears before a Notary and swears under Oath that he/she witnessed so and so signing the document. I have never heard of this act being done, but for less formal documents, it is often allowed and it is interesting to read about as it is so unusual.

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PROTESTS

Not all states have protests. Protests are normally done by people working in banking to protest the non-payment of a bill or bounced check. We do not hold our Notaries responsible to understand this act although it is good to know what it is.

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