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!