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January 20, 2011

Hospital Signings

“Many notaries say they do not do hospital signings because they are depressing,” admits a Virginia notary. “However, these notarizations do provide an opportunity to give hope to people who may not be around much longer, and allow the notaries to see a side of life that makes them grateful for whatever they have.” “It’s always worth doing something for someone in pain,” adds one Tennessee notary who did the following notarization.

“It was for a diabetic who had had some kind of complications. She asked me to come to the hospital. She was on a gurney, but she needed cash out from her home, a refinance, and she was desperate,” recalls this accommodating Tennessee notary. “Every time her blood sugar dipped, we had to stop.” It is hard to imagine that nurses and doctors would allow a signing to take place under such conditions… but, I guess when people need money, they allow for all sorts of things. The woman got her money out of her home so she could pay her medical bills. “I wonder if she got to do anything else with some of that refinance money,” our Tennessee notary asks. “She was a fun person, but I guess all that sugar caught up with her. I try to avoid hospital signings, but will do them if people can’t find anyone else,” she says.

One Maryland notary signed a veterinarian at an animal hospital. The refinance took place right on the operating table after the young doctor had finished operating on a cocker spaniel who had a cyst. Operations on dogs cost anywhere from $1000 on up, so this knowledgeable young vet was able to purchase a new home in an area of Maryland from which lots of dog lovers commute to D.C. This particular dog belonged to a retired army colonel, and was his pride and joy. “It was the only ‘hospital signing’ where I wasn’t working for the patient,” our Maryland notary recalls.

A more dismal hospital visit was made by a mature male Virginia notary who was shaken by what he saw. “It was in the middle of a hurricane, well, during one part of a hurricane. Getting there was awful. But I was asked to go notarize a will. Well, this guy was in the hospital bed…and I realized he had been amputated from the navel down. But it gets worse,” says our Virginia notary. It seems they “had amputated one leg–but it was the wrong leg…so they ended up amputating both legs.” The notary pauses as if he is sighing. He asks me not to include the name of the hospital, and adds,”You have trouble sleeping after seeing something like this. This man didn’t know how long he would live, and he had pretty much lost his faith in doctors, the military, and everyone else but me. This put a lot of weight on me, and I tried to be as kind as possible and not show how truly upset I was. That man never recovered, but I have never recovered from seeing him and hearing his story,” says our Virginia notary.

A slightly more upbeat hospital signing was for a ‘cash out,’ a refinance, and the notary was asked to come to the hospital. “I ended up signing this woman on the commode,” says our undaunted Maryland notary. “Sometimes,” she points out, “you just have to go the extra mile… even if it just means sitting still.”

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Making family members leave the room


December 28, 2019

Alzheimer’s signings — how to determine whether to carry through or not?

Filed under: Hospital & Jail Signings — admin @ 11:07 pm

Let’s say you are at a hospital for a POA signing or Medical Directive signing. Let’s say that the signer has been officially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Do you notarize or not? If you notarize, and the signing comes back to haunt you in court, the small fee you made will not be worth any significant risk of court time. However, if you can get the signer to describe the document, why they are signing it, who they are, who their relatives are, and who the president of the United States is, they are probably competent enough to sign.

Now, let’s say that a medical professional at the hospital advises you not to notarize for the patient due to this mental disease. The fact is that you are the Notary, and only you can decide the fate of the notarization. The main thing is to consider the risks, and how you can go about proving competency in a prudent way.

I would continue writing about this article, but I forgot what the topic was. Hmm.

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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.

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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August 16, 2016

Hospital Notary Jobs

Hospital Notary Jobs

Hospital visits present the greatest personal risk, even greater than jail visits. When you visit a prison the staff knows your personal safety is their responsibility. At a hospital you are virtually ignored. The passing of infections is an obvious key issue; both ways. If you have the slightest contagious aliment it’s best to avoid hospitals. Two main reasons: your personal defenses are reduced, and you can infect a patient, potentially with dire consequences. Most of the NY hospitals that I go to have both facemasks and hand sanitizer at the entrance. Use both, also press the elevator button with a pen; generally avoid touching things. If you ask someone they will usually give you a pair of thin rubber gloves – additional protection.

Hospital visits should always be prepaid. You should stress the potential problems and frankly inform your caller that the risks are theirs. Your fee is earned when you to go to the facility and notarize if you are permitted to do so. There may be objections by the facility, ID issues, access limitations, ability to sign, ability to understand, etc. There is a good chance your client will be named as Agent on a Power of Attorney. Persons obtaining POA authority are quite willing to pay mobile notary fees; and have a great interest in obtaining the notarized document. Though their interest is irrelevant to your go/nogo decision; it’s worth mentioning. The majority of hospital POA jobs are, in my experience; for loving, concerned relatives who want to help. Of course some wish to exploit the afflicted – it’s virtually impossible to derive their true motivation.

But, your job is to notarize, if you feel doing so would be morally and legally proper. Hmmmm, just where did morally enter into the law? There are (at least in NY State) some “judgment call” aspects. Do I feel that the affiant understands the document and consents to it? Did the ID meet the standard of “adequate proof” – perhaps the photo on the license was a long time ago. Let’s continue with your approval of the situation.

You don’t know and will not be told what their affliction is. Sometimes there will be a “facemasks required” sign on the door. You should be wearing your facemask during every visit. Also take care about having the patient use your pen. Consider leaving it in the room, or at least giving it a good wipe with the hand sanitizer, there are usually several on each floor. Usually someone else is in the room. Show them where the patient needs to sign and stay a few feet away. But, you still need to witness signing a Jurat and need to administer an oath. They can bring the document to the patient while you observe. Just be sure that “they” do not sign for the patient!

Back to your fee. Some make payment on the web site with a credit card. Others prefer to pay with cash. Cash should be collected in the lobby if possible, or call your client out of the room and settle the finances first. Recall that you carefully covered all of the possible impediments to being able to notarize. Your “payment first” policy should have been carefully covered by phone prior to any travel, when accepting the assignment. Similar to prisons, things tend to move slowly in a hospital. You may have to wait while bedding is changed, test administered, etc. My basic notary fee at a hospital is half again what the fee would be for an office or home visit. Stress openly and honestly that all “risk” is on their side – you will do the job if conditions warrant, and total legality.


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Hospital Signings


April 12, 2015

Point (18-24) Notary Competence; Marcy’s Hospital Signing

Marcy had never done a hospital signing. But, she liked kids, and was thoughtful towards elderly people as well. She was called to go to St. Joseph’s to do a notarization for a bedridden old lady. When Marcy got to the hospital, she learned that the elderly lady could barely move her arms. Luckily, the lady was able to sign an X in chicken scratchy writing. Marcy was able to get together a few others in the hospital to act as subscribing witnesses. Marcy had studied this procedure since she knew that one day a notarization would be ruined and a client lost if she didn’t know it inside out. She got the subscribing witnesses to sign the first name and the last name next to the X in their own handwriting in the journal and in the document. Next, she asked the old lady to explain the document. Unfortunately, the old lady was so mentally impaired, that she could not get a single sentence out about anything. Marcy didn’t want to end up in court, so she played it safe. She declined to notarize after all of that work. Better safe than sorry, because in a fraud investigation, only God knows how long you would be in court!

The very next day, Marcy got a call from 123notary. They wanted to help her brush up on her knowledge. The girl at 123notary asked, “Name two Federal holidays in January.” Marcy said, “Oh, I know this… um…. Martin Luther King Day… and … I can’t think of the other one.” Marcy forgot about New Year’s Day. This may seem funny, but 9 out of 10 answer this question incorrectly. The answer is too obvious, or since it is celebrated in the last evening of December, it doesn’t seem like it happens in January.

The following day, Marcy got called in to notarize three Grant Deeds for a busy Realtor. They all had the same document date, the same signer, and would all be notarized on the same day. Marcy wanted to mark her journal and the additional information sections of the Acknowledgments with some distinguishing information to tell these documents apart. After all, they had the same name, date, signer, and everything! So, Marcy wrote the document date, the name of the document, # of pages, and some other information in the additional info section, but also wrote the property address as that was the only unique piece of information to separate the three Grant Deeds. Marcy was being smart now and staying out of trouble. After all, she didn’t want someone playing swap the Acknowledgment certificate after the fact. That would be a long court case. Smart — very smart!


Point (18) Name Variations, Middle Initials & Identification
If the printed name on the signature section of the document says, Tom T Smith, then the signer has to sign that way. Once in a while there is a consistency error where the spelling of the name or the name variation might vary throughout the loan by accident. If the signer’s ID has a shorter version of the signer’s name, then it would be illegal to notarize them under a longer name. For example, the ID says “Tom Smith” and the loan documents say “Tom T Smith”, then you can’t notarize the person under the name “Tom T Smith”.

On the other hand, if the ID says, “Thomas Timothy Smith”, then you can notarize him as Thomas T Smith, or just Thomas Smith in addition to the full name stated on the ID.


Point (19) Journals
Whatever name you choose to represent the signer that is legal according to your state’s Notary law gets recorded in your journal. Each journal entry must record:

The Date & Time of the notarization
The Type of notarization, i.e. Jurat, Acknowledgment, Oath
The name of the document & optional date of document
The name and address of the signer
The identification of the signer
The Notary fee you are charging
A signature of the signer
There should be space for the thumbprint of the signer to the right.

It is recommended that you take thumbprints for notarizations of any type of document affecting real property such as a Deed, or for Powers of Attorney. Additionally, if the method of identification was credible witnesses which is allowed in many states, you should take a thumbprint just to give extra proof of the person’s identity should it ever be questioned in court.

The most confusing part of a journal entry for Notaries is the additional notes section. What notes should you take? This is where you record information about credible witnesses and their signatures. The witnesses do NOT sign where the signer’s signature goes; otherwise where will the signer sign? You can take notes about the building, or neighborhood, or anything distinctive about the signers or your surroundings. This might jog your memory a few years after the fact should you ever be called into court about the notarization — and some type of investigation will likely happen at least once during your four year term. So, keep well documented evidence for all of your transactions.


Point (20) Federal Holidays
Please memorize these holidays, and the days or months they fall upon. You will be tested on this.

New Years Day
Martin Luther King Day
Washington’s birthday AKA and observed on Presidents’ day
Memorial Day
Independence Day
Labor Day
Columbus Day
Veterans Day


Point (21) Notary Acts: Acknowledgments, Jurats, Oaths, Copy Certification by Document Custodian

(1) Acknowledgments
The signer doesn’t need to sign in front of you for an Acknowledgment. But, they need to appear before you and be positively identified. Do you keep a pad of Acknowledgment forms with your state’s wording? If there is a wording error on the acknowledgment provided to you, and you don’t have a replacement form, you will have to use cross-outs which is very unprofessional. Additionally, the notarization might get rejected if there are cross-outs. Keep a journal even if your state doesn’t require it. That is your evidence when you are investigated for someone’s fraud. You might have to lose a day or more in court if you don’t have your paperwork in order. Take journal thumbprints too, just to be thorough. Be professional, carry Acknowledgment and Jurat pads. Ninjas always carry what they need.

(2) Jurats
Jurats require identification in most states although they didn’t used to many years ago. The signer must sign before you for a Jurat. You must make them swear to the truthfulness of the statement or document as well. Affidavits typically use Jurats, although that is up to your client what type of notarization they want. Don’t forget to administer the Oath to the Affiant, or you are breaking the law! Know your notary procedures.

(3) Copies of a document?
Foreigners often need their transcripts notarized, or copies of their transcripts. The law forbids copies of vital records, but not on transcripts. You should ideally supervise the copying of the records to make sure the copy is real. That is a best practice that you can do as a notary. Some states allow a Copy Certification by Document Custodian form which is a Jurat with some extra wording on it and recognized as its own notary act. Clients were happy that I not only notarized the copy, but made a note on the certificate that I personally supervised the copying, and I signed my brief note as well. People were happy with the thoroughness of my work.

(4) Oaths
What is proper Oath wording? A lot is left to the notary who is generally untrained.
There is no official Oath wording for notaries. So, the Notary is left to improvise. Here is some wording we generally like:

Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
Are the contents of this document complete, true, and correct to the best of your knowledge?

By the way, the name of the person who swears under Oath is the Affiant.


Here are some other points about certificates


Loose Certificates
Don’t send loose certificates in the mail. If the lender wants a new certificate, ask for the document and original certificate, destroy the original, and attach a new one. You do not legally need to see the signer again to do that. There should only be one certificate floating around with the document. Make sure to date the new certificate the date when the notarization was actually done and not today’s date! Important point.

Certificate Wording
Most notaries do not cross out the wording in Acknowledgment sections. Where it says “his/her/their” requires the notary to cross out two of the three. That way, upon reading the edited wording, you know if you are dealing with a single man, single woman, or a plural amount of people. Sometimes the gender of the signer is not obvious based on their name. Signature(s)? What if you have one signer who signed a document twice? Then don’t cross out the (s) buddy! This is not rocket science, but most notaries do not do their cross-outs. This is the one document where you not only get to cross words out, but you are legally required.

The date you use for a notarization must be the date of the signing. If it is around midnight, then either the date before or after midnight will do. That is the only exception. If you ask me, I feel that the date on an Acknowledgment should correspond to the minute that the signer signed the notary journal since the document could have been signed before the notarization and the certificate could be filled out after. This is only important if you have a midnight signing, otherwise there is no question about the date.


Point (22) Elderly Notarizations & Signature by X
If you are a Notary who visits hospitals, you will have to learn how to handle difficult elder signings. Many elders have trouble moving their arms. Additionally, if the nurses have given them drugs, then they might not even be able to stay awake or communicate. You need to make sure the elder is sober. It might be illegal in your state to notarize a signer under the influence of morphine or whatever drug they are on. You also need to make sure the elderly signer understands what they are signing so they don’t get scammed. You need to make sure they are the ones signing the document and not an overly zealous daughter who puts a pen in grandma’s hand, grabs the old lady’s arm and moves it around to make a signature.

Use due caution when notarizing the elderly
Please keep in mind that the well-meaning middle-aged people who call you to visit the hospital to notarize granny might not be the old lady’s children. They might be some strangers who just wanted to “help out” who might be trying to cheat granny out of every penny she owns through a Power of Attorney or some other legal documentation that a senile old person might not mentally grasp. Take precautions to make sure you are not facilitating a scam, and that the elderly signer can state in their own words what the document is about. It might be difficult to ascertain by looking at identification cards who is related to whom as relatives don’t always share the same surname. Just assume that people might not be related and might not have honorable intentions no matter how nice they seem. Otherwise you could end up in court for a very long time!

What is Signature by X?
Signature by X is where the signer being notarized signs an X instead of a regular signature.
Many Notaries go through their entire career without understanding the necessity and importance of the Signature by X / Signature by Mark procedure (Notarizing an X). If you have ever done a hospital signing, or signing for elderly, you might be acutely aware of the physical and mental limitations that a signer has in tasks we take for granted. This often necessitates Signature by X procedures.

What steps are necessary for a Signature by Mark or X?

(1) You need two Subscribing Witnesses who witness the Signature by X.
(2) The signer signs an X in your journal and on the document.
(3) Witness one signs the person’s first name in the document and journal.
(4) Witness two signs the persons middle and last names in the document and journal.
(5) Document the ID’s and signatures of the witnesses in the document and journal.
(6) Keep in mind that this is a very unusual notary procedure and is tricky.

Subscribing Witnesses?
What is a Subscribing Witness? Anyone who witnesses someone signing by X as an official act is a Subscribing Witness. Subscribing Witnesses sign the document and the journal. In California, one witness signs the signer’s first name and the other signer signs the signer’s last and middle name (if there is one). It’s good to create documentation to accompany the document as to what this odd procedure is, since it is uncommon and looks strange. It’s also prudent to indicate the Subscribing Witnesses’ names on the actual document and that they witnessed the Signature by X.


Point (23) Elizors
I am adding this topic just so notaries can appear intelligent if the subject ever comes up. In my career I have never heard this term, but maybe you will. An Elizor is a court appointed official that can sign over property when the owner refuses to cooperate with the court.


Point (24) Embossers
An embosser may be used in many states as a supplemental Notary seal. As a secondary seal, the embosser should not use ink. Embossers leave a raised three dimensional impression in paper. If a Notary is prudent and embosses every page of every document they ever notarized, then it will become obvious if pages are swapped after the fact as they would not be embossed. Additionally, in a rare case where a Notary’s seal is forged, the forger will not be likely to be smart enough to also forge the secondary embosser which will make their forgery very obviously detectable. Embossers help to deter and identify fraud. They are highly recommended as a result.


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September 27, 2010

Hospital notary job tips from A to Z

Hospital notary jobs are a great source of extra income for signing agents. However, there are many pit falls and delays. Learn to do your homework so you can minimize the problems of this type of job. Hospital notarizations are always much more time consuming than regular notary jobs, so charge at least $50 travel fee and be prepared for signers and family members who do not have their ID’s and documents ready.

Call first to find out if the signer has ID

If you are doing a notary signing for someone in the hospital, chances are their family members will be calling you for the signing. The signer will generally be elderly, and elderly people who are not self-sufficient typically have expired identification. Find out what the signer’s identification is before you go to the signing. Have someone read the ID type, state of issue, number, and expiration date. The client will tell you false stories otherwise. They will say, “Oh, she has a passport”, and then when you get to the signing you will find that they only have a social security card, and can’t even find it.

Confirm the signing and identification

When you confirm the signing, confirm where the ID is, and make sure the person on the other end ofthe phone is HOLDING it, or you will never find it. Elderly people can never find their identification if they even have any. They will sit with you on the sofa and go through the contents of their entire wallet. You will see decades of history unravel before you, and will be kept waiting a long time. They will offer you every type of unacceptable ID known to mankind, and will offer you everything except for an ID that you can really use. Make sure the client who calls you knows where the ID is, or you will be sorry.

Does the signer understand the document?

Make sure the signing can explain the document to you, otherwise they shouldn’t be signing it. If the signer is so incapacitated that they can’t speak, then you should not notarize them.

Can the signer sign their own name?

Find out if the signer can sign their own name before going to the signing. Family members will always assure you that they can sign. But, medical situations change quickly, and once the notary arrives, the signer is often drugged or incapable of speaking coherently or signing anything. Have the family members make the signer sign something before you book the appointment. When the client calls you and you ask them to sample the elderly person’s signature, the elderly person will always be sleeping, so they can’t test their signing skills, but you will be assured that after you drive two hours to the signing, that the person will be able to sign properly.

Is the signer drugged?

Make sure that the nurses know not to drug the signer within eight hours of the signing. Make sure the family members of the signing are watching the signer at all times to make sure the nurses don’t slip them any valium, otherwise the signing is off.

Confirmation an hour before the signing – a list of questions to ask.

(1) Is the signer awake? Waking them up at the last minute takes a long time.

(2) Is the signer drugged? Valium and signings don’t mix.

(3) Can the signer sign their name? Have the family member test them out before you drive.

(4) Do you have the ID in your hand? Please read it to me again. Otherwise you’ll never find it.

(5) Do you have the document(s)? Please confirm you are holding them in your hand. Don’t let family members drag the person’s arm while the signer is grabbing the pen. If the daughter moves the signers arm around, then it is the daughter signing for the person. If the signer can’t sign on their own, the signing is off. You can do a signature by X if you know the procedure. However, the family members may use their arm as a fixed brace, so that the signer can have some physicall support for the signing. Make sure the family members’ arm doesn’t move around to assist the signing.

What should I charge?
Travel fees for hospital jobs should be anywhere from $40 to $80 which should include the first 30 minutes of waiting time.  Hospital notary jobs are risky, because the signer may not be able to sign — which means you might not get paid.  The signer could die before you arrive as well.  The families of the signers rarely have their paperwork and identification all in order which ensures you at least 20 minutes waiting time, even if you double check to make sure they are prepared.  Charge whatever your state allows per signature and a hefty travel fee IF YOUR STATE ALLOWS travel fees at all. Our forum documents roughly eight states with travel fee restrictions which puts a stranglehold on your whole livelihood.

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May 20, 2018

Tips for avoiding liability with the elderly

Filed under: Hospital & Jail Signings — Tags: — admin @ 9:37 am

Elder Notarizations

If you are a Mobile Notary, you will undoubtedly get calls from people in hospitals, convalescent homes, and jails. The problem with jail signings used to be lock downs and the lack of an acceptable ID. I’m not sure if ID rules have changed or jail practices have changed in the mean time because I keep hearing rumors that there is some formal jail ID card now.

But, the problem with elder notary hospital signings are different. Here are my points and recommendations for notarizing the elderly and bed-ridden.

1. Read the ID over the phone
Not all elderly people have an ID, and not all have a current identification. Have someone read the identification information and expiration date to you over the phone. That way you will know that they:
(a) Have an ID
(b) Can find the ID
(c) That it reads a name that proves the name on the document (which should already have been drafted)
(d) That the identification for notary work has not expired.

2. Ask if the signer will be drugged within several hours of the notarization.
If the signer is not sober, you should decline to notarize, and let the family of the hospitalized person know that your travel fee is paid in cash at the door. If you feel for any reason that it is not prudent to notarize the signer, that you will walk out for reasons pertaining to legal liability. Here are some reasons to decline service.

(a) The signer is sleeping

(b) The signer communicates incoherently or in a tone you cannot clearly understand.

(c) The signer cannot orally summarize the document in a way that makes you feel sure they understand what they are signing.

(d) The signer has been drugged recently perhaps with morphine.

(e) The signer cannot sign their name. If you know how to do a signature by X procedure that might be a substitute, but check your state laws and procedures before doing a signature by Mark or X.

(f) The signer cannot sit up or move their arm to sign.

If there is a problem with a hospital notarization, it is better to find out before you get in your car. Have the family communicate with the signer, have the signer practice signing a blank piece of paper with the family before you commit to an appointment. There is a lot that can go wrong, so try to anticipate common problems and solve them before you drive over.

3. Legal liability
If you notarize for a person who is bed-ridden, the chances of the transaction ending up in court are at least twenty times as high as for loan signings, so you should charge a lot more for hospital notarizations due to the unseen costs of doing business, not to mention the waiting time and other inconveniences. If you are a sloppy Notary, I would suggest not doing hospital notarizations at all as they will come back to you and your sloppily kept or not kept journal will be the only thing that will save you or not save you in court. Here are some things that can go wrong at hospital notary jobs that can get you in trouble.

(a) The signer claims that they were tricked into signing something that gave their money away.

(b) The signer may be conscious when you are doing the signing, but afterwards might not remember signing something.

(c) Someone might investigate and question whether the signer really signed the document or really knew what they were doing.

(d) Someone might questions the identity of the person who actually signed. That is why I kept thumbprints. However thumbprints for the elderly often are like tires with no tread which makes them hard to differentiate.


You might also like:

When to ask for ID over the phone & fees at the door

A tale of 4 notaries at hospitals

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

Hospital Notary job tips from A to Z


March 20, 2018

Notary Marketing 102 — The Top of Your Notes

Filed under: Loan Signing 101 — admin @ 7:51 am

Return to the Notary Marketing 102 Notes Tutorial


1. TOP — Selling Points & Experience
A good notes section should start out by mentioning some quick points about why someone would want to hire you. Here are some points that do well in the top section:


Number of Loans Signed – Most Notaries hide behind their years of experience. But, the Title companies want to know how many loans first as years is not a definitive metric of how much actual experience you have. What if you signed ten loans per year for ten years, that is only 100 loans. If you have thirty or more years of experience, list it in a format such as: Notary since 1985.

Jail & Hospital Signings — Many people need service in unusual places, so if you are specializing in jails and hospitals, you should mention this at the top of your notes.

100 Mile Radius — In remote areas, people need service far from where you live. If you offer this service with a smile, you will attract a lot more business.

eSignings — Listing unusual services makes you look highly skilled, and will attract specific types of work.

Hours — If you are a 24/7 Notary or a night owl, let the world know this first, because a lot of people need help at night and the other Notaries probably don’t want to be bothered.

Languages — Spanish and Vietnamese are the most demanded languages. But, if you speak another language, put that up top so people will know right away. If you speak Spanish, it is better to claim to be “bilingual” as it carries positive cultural connotations.

Specific Experience — Mention specific types of financial packages or documents that you are accustomed to signing. If a client has that exact package they might be more likely to call you first.

Catchy Phrase — Sometimes a catchy phrase about yourself, your business or service can win the game. Often it is a one-liner that is artfully phrased and catches people’s attention. Don’t bore them with fluff, dazzle them with class!


LINK: Buzzwords to avoid in your notes section

LINK: What NOT to put at the top of your notes section



24/7 service; 8500 loans signed; last minute signings; Bilingual; Experienced with Modifications, eSignings, REO, Time Shares, Refinances, VA, FHA, 1sts, 2nds, and Helocs.

The effective top of your notes section stresses time of availability, level of experience you can really put your finger on (# of loans is a better analytic than years because the reader could assume that you did very few loans per year for ten years which is not impressive.) “Last minute signings” is a great phrase because many notaries do not like to be bothered at the last minute. Unusual types of financial packages are also good to list and this section lists ten types of packages. I would stop at twelve types of packages per paragraph to avoid overload.

I have been a notary for twelve years and know my way around the business. I am responsible and know everything I need to know. NNA certified.

The horrible top of your notes section commentary lists years which is bad because you don’t know what quantity of actual work was done per year. There is some bragging and self-promotion which I called “inexpensively bought credibility” which carries no weight because it is self-verified credibility. Then there is the NNA certification which is not a selling feature as almost all Notaries on 123notary are NNA Certified. You have to mention what makes you different and better, rather than what makes you average.



March 16, 2018

Notary Marketing 102 — The Bottom of your Notes Section

Filed under: Loan Signing 101 — admin @ 7:43 am

Return to Notary Marketing 102 Notes Tutorial


This article continues the discussion of what goes in your notes section on your 123notary profile. The following content covers what goes in the lower-middle or bottom of your notes:


4. Coverage Areas and Special Terms
The lower middle of your notes can talk about what counties or cities you serve. I do not like lists of zip codes, but if you insist you can include them. Listing a radius is fine, but back it up with mention of specific counties or parts of counties so the public will have a clear idea of where you go. Clear information wins the game and vague self-descriptions looks sloppy. If you take credit cards, Square or Paypal, mention that too. Here is an itemization of what to put here:

Areas Covered — A radius in miles and the names of counties or parts of counties are most effective. You might list specific city names too. Keep county lists as county lists and it is confusing to mix cities and counties together. Format is important, so if you ramble on and on about how you sometimes go to Northeast Butler County, but only if it is not raining and not after 8pm except if it is during the summer, that is too complicated.

Credit Cards — If you take square, paypal, or credit cards, mention that here.

Online Booking — If you have some fancy technological system or do online booking, mention that here.


5. Closing Phrases
Finish off your notes with a catchy closing phrase. Call today! Satisfaction Guaranteed. I look forward to working with you.


6. Other
Please make sure the general fields in your listing are all filled out. 123notary has many fields to fill out and it is common for Notaries to swear to me that they filled everything out when most fields were left blank. Fill in your number of signings, hours, specialties, etc. The additional information area has room for a lot more information about hospital signings, immigration documents, and more.


LINK: Excerpts from great notes sections

LINK: Your jumbled or too short notes section is costing you 50% of your business!



November 1, 2017

Notary Public 101 — Real Life Notary Scenarios

Return to the table of contents of Notary Public 101

Knowing how to be a good notary is all fine and good. But, if you don’t know how to handle scenarios, you might get into some sticky situations.


1. Confirming the signing
When you call the borrowers, go over the:
Date, Time, People Signing, Location, if there is a check or wired funds, if they have 90 minutes to complete a signing, and any fees that seem critical in the CD or HUD. Additionally, you should have them read the names in their ID to make sure they match, …read more…


2. The name on the ID says John Smith
Q. The name on the ID is shorter or not matching the name on the document? What do you do?
A. Ask for other ID. If they don’t have it, if your state allows credible witnesses, use them to identify the signer. You can always… read more


3. Rectify errors on Notary certificates
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 … read more…


4. The signer would not sign the flood disclosure.
If you go to a signing at 11am and the signer signs everything except the flood disclosure, what do you do? You call the contact person or people in title or lending. If they do not call you back, you cannot stay at the borrower’s house all day long. Let’s say you leave …read more…


5. The green pen scenario
You go to a signing, open the package and the instructions read:
Sign in GREEN, don’t call unless it is an emergency, get it to Fedex on time or you are fired.
It is 5:30, last pick up is at 6:00pm. Nobody has a green pen. There is a stationery store in the same complex …read more…


6. Ten grant deeds.
If you have one signer signing ten grant deeds, you need to do the following:
Create ten journal entries, one per person per document. Put thorough information about who the grantor and grantee is, a thumbprint, and …read more…


7. The FBI is at your door.
What piece of information will they want from you if someone gave you a fake ID?
A journal thumbprint. If you don’t keep one, start now… read more…


8. What types of pads of forms should a Notary keep in his/her bag?
Acknowledgments, Jurats, Copy Certifications. Skip the POA forms. Have them consult an Attorney. I carried permission for minors to travel. I created my own very thorough form with room for thumbprints. The Mexican authorities loved my form!… read more…


9. Chad assigns a job to you. He says if there is a problem, call him and only him. If you can’t reach him, then email him. You get to the signing, the signer signs half the documents and then has a question. What do you do? Call Chad and if he doesn’t answer then email him. Many Notaries just don’t follow directions… read more…


10. Frank does a loan signing on Monday and drops the package in the drop box at 3pm, calls in the tracking number and then wants to go camping. How many days should Frank wait before embarking on his camping trip and why? I think that Frank should wait until he confirms with the Lender that the package has been looked over in its entirety or… read more…


11. What entities might want to see your Notary journal?
I have gotten in hundreds of arguments with notaries from states all over the county. Those who live in states where journals are not legally required think they will not get into trouble if they don’t have one. If you end up in court, your journal is your only evidence of what happened. You might become a witness for a long case or a defendant if … read more


12. Hospital signing issues
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 … read more


13. How do you notarize a document with no signature line?
If you have been instructed to notarize a document that doesn’t have a signature line, that is a cross between a quandary and a conundrum. You cannot notarize a document without a signature. Notaries notarize signatures on documents, not documents, and especially … read more


14. Sixteen year old Samantha calls a Notary to notarize an Affidavit for her mom who does not speak English. The Notary arrives only to find out that he/she cannot communicate directly with the signing who is the mother. Samantha offers to translate as she does that on a daily basis for her mom. What do you tell Samantha? In 49 states, direct ORAL communication with the client is required REGARDLESS of whether the document is in English, has been translated, or whether the Notary understands the document. You cannot use an oral translator except perhaps in Arizona (check AZ handbook for an accurate answer). Refer Samantha to find a Notary who speaks their language.


15. John appears before you to sign a loan as an Attorney-in-Fact. He knows two verbiage variations for signing as an Attorney-in-Fact and wants to know which one to use. There are no written instructions. What do you do next? In this situation you have to call for instructions because POA verbiage is a matter of preference as there are eight legal verbiage variations for signing as an AIF. So, call the Lender or Title company in this case as the loan will not close if you did not use the verbiage of their choice!


16. Credible Witnesses.
Jim appears before you to sign an Affidavit. But, he has no ID. What do you do? Many states allow for credible witnesses. Some states require two CW’s who must both know the signer while others allow for one that must know the notary and the signer. You can read up on your state specific rule on this convoluted subject of credible witnesses.

Also read –


17. Name two situations where you might need subscribing witnesses. Subscribing witnesses are witnesses that watch someone sign their name on a document. They are used for Proofs of Execution (look this one up in our Notary Acts section) and for Signatures by Mark or Signatures by X which is allowed in certain states (look up in our glossary.)


18. The document is written in a language that the Notary does not understand. All states except for AZ require direct oral communication with the signer. However, written comprehension is a different ballgame and is very state specific. California only cares that the Notary notarizes the signature and doesn’t care if the Notary understands the document although the signer must understand what they are signing. However, other states can vary. Does your state require you to be able to read the language the document was written in? Look this one up in your handbook as we cannot help you in this matter because we don’t know!


19. You have been instructed to notarize a form that does not have a certificate.
You are at a notarization and the instructions say, “Notarize this page.” However, there is no certificate wording on the page. What do you do now?

The Notary may not choose the Notary act as that might be construed as UPL. So, just ask the client or signer what act they want and then attach the corresponding certificate to the document. That’s all.


20. Deeds of Reconveyence.
You go to a signing and one of the documents is a Deed of Reconveyance. Under the signature line has the word Trustee. Who is the Trustee, and do you notarize this document?

The Trustee is normally the Lender, but could also be the borrower if he has a company and is lending money to himself in another capacity. The Trustee could be anyone, so without specific instructions you should probably not have this form signed or notarized.


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