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July 31, 2018

Notarizing the elderly — do more digging to be sure it is legit

There are many people who prey on the elderly. Elderly people need help and cannot always get it. Perhaps their family no longer talks to them, or is far away. Perhaps they have no family. Those who seem like they are family members or “helping” the elderly might be scam artists.

If you are notarizing for an elderly person, you need to check out the people who are helping. Here are some things you should find out.

1. What is your relationship to the signer? What is your name?
2. Why are you having this document signed? What is it about?
3. How does it benefit the signer?

This is a little nosy, but Notaries end up in court a lot in elder signings, so perhaps it is better to be suspicious up front to discourage the others from defrauding others.

You might indicate in your journal who the helpers are. This is not required, but if you have ID information for the helpers, that could help catch them in the off chance you are investigated. Also, nobody who is doing something illegal wants their ID recorded in a Notary journal. They might back off. The point of all of this extra work is to discourage people from getting you in a position where you will have to end up in court.

If when asking the helpers questions about their relationship with the signer, why they are helping, etc., you can see if they flinch or are awkward. I am not an investigator and do not know how liars act, but you might find them to be very uncomfortable if you start digging. Be polite in your digging and explain that many elder signings end up in court and that you want to make sure that nothing will go wrong.

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You might also like:

Notarizing documents for the elderly
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=3334

How do I do a signature by X Notarization
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=18791

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

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August 27, 2012

Notarizing Documents for the Elderly

Notarizing for the elderly: Making a difference

Notarizing documents for the elderly can sometimes be a precarious task. At best, it can also be very rewarding, a chance to save senior citizens from poor medical or financial decisions. Some of our notaries have recently done a great service by scrupulously looking out for this fragile population and speaking out in order to protect them.

A California notary tells us, “I was going to a signing, and I really didn’t have any information about the borrower. The caregiver for the elderly man answered the door, and said ‘Are you aware that Mr. Jones has Alzheimer’s? He thinks you are here to give him $3000. He was cleaning the house all night to impress you.’ Apparently, someone had called him from an Internet company and had gotten him to do the loan. The care attendant said she would have to call the man’s son. I left the loan documents with the man, and immediately called the loan officer. I said, ‘This man’s son has a power of attorney. If I hear of this man signing these documents himself, I will turn you in.’ I never heard from them again,” sighs the California notary, who knows to this day she provided an unanticipated service for Mr. Jones.

Another California notary from Oakland tells a similar story: he came to notarize a refinance, but the woman who owned the home did not want to sign. It turned out that the ‘relative’ who was claiming to have a valid power of attorney was not even related to the homeowner…but had somehow persuaded the lender that she had a POA–and was planning to drain $20,000 from the home and then put the woman in a nursing home. The notary got a bad feeling about all this when he first called to confirm the signing. The old woman confided in the notary her unwillingness to sign, and the notary, on a hunch, called the authorities. They arrested the “relative”…and an actual relative was called upon to assist. Luckily, the equity in the home remained intact, and our notary was very pleased. “It was just lucky that I realized what was going on,” he says, “and made the call. Some people might say it wasn’t any of my business. A notary actually is taken quite seriously as a ‘reporter’ in cases like this. I was glad I did what I did,” says our California notary.

“One man thought he was getting back $400 more on his loan than he actually did. When we went over the paperwork, he actually started crying. I was able to explain things to him, but he chose to call the lender and delay the closing…although he did end up closing that week. The lender did something for him, made some deal with him that made him feel better. Many elderly people feel they are being taken advantage of, and many are in a position of weakness. I see a lot of happy, wealthy elderly, some who own several houses in several parts of the country. I also see a lot of poor people who are elderly and who never recovered from 2008,” says one Hawaii notary with relatives in California. “We are trying to do more to protect them.”

A Hawaii notary in Honolulu who does a lot of notary work with the elderly tells us, “Sometimes at a hospital signing I have to determine whether or not the person knows what he or she is signing. I ask the person’s name and I keep asking questions. If the person does not know what he or she is signing, I leave.” Our astute young Hawaii notary adds, “There are lots of times there is a doubt as to the competence of the person, and you really have to be very sure. Your have to protect their interests. That is why it is good that California, for instance, just passed a new law regarding notarizing a power of attorney.” [see blog June 3 2012 “A New California Notary Law”]

Tweets:
(1) Notarizing documents for the elderly can sometimes be a precarious task; at best very rewarding
(2) “Are you aware that Mr. Jones (the signer) has Alzeimers? He thinks ur here to give him $3000!”
(3) Many elderly signers feel they are being taken advantage of, and that they have a weakness.

You might also like:

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

Dragging the person’s arm: A signing for an elderly woman
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=610

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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.

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You might also like:

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

A tale of 4 notaries at hospitals
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=463

Do you like your job? A story of being kept waiting forever at a hospital.
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=617

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

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January 21, 2012

Rules for notarizing a bedridden person

Rules for notarizing a bedridden person
 
I have written a lot on this topic, and posts relating to this topic are in the hospital category on the right.  There are no special notary laws for notarizing a bedridden signer. However, there are a few important things to know that are common when notarizing hospitalized or bedridden or elderly signers.
 
The identification must be current
A few states allow an ID to have been issued five years before the date of the notarization, when the ID technically expires four years after it was issued.  However, elderly signers will commonly have an ID that was used between Christopher Columbus’ time and the French Revolution.  If you do a signing for an elderly person (or anyone else), make sure their identification is current before you drive to that location (if you are a mobile notary). 
 
The patient / bedridden person must be coherent and sober
It is common for nurses to drug a patient right before the notary arrives.  Unfortunately, it is not legal to notarize someone who is so out of it that they can’t think or function.  So, if you want that notarization to happen, put the morphine on hold for now! Keep the valium in it’s syringe for now!  Additionally, if the signer can not move their arm to sign, you have a problem. If the signer can not talk enough to acknowledge that they understand the document, you are in trouble too. 
 
Elderly people get scammed regularly – notaries beware!

Elderly people fall prey to all types of scams, and the “nice” people who you assume are the signer’s children could be scam artists who are conning the drugged patient into signing their assets away.  The notary will (could) end up in court if someone gets scammed, so beware, and make sure the signer knows what is going on — or you (the notary) will be very sorry when the justice system hijacks you for two weeks without pay a few months or years down the road. It is not worth it!

You might also like:

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

What is Signature by X or Signature by Mark?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2278

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

30 Point course – hospital signings
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=14492

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April 8, 2011

Notarizing a kidnapper

Filed under: Drama & Tragedy — Tags: , , , , , — admin @ 6:50 am

Notarizing a potential kidnapper

I had no evidence either way, I was just doing my job.  It was a dark night in Rosemead, CA, when I had just finished notarizing a grant deed for some old customers of mine when the phone rang. It was a company that I enjoyed working for that I hadn’t heard from for a while. They had a notarization for me in the neighboring city of Monterey Park. That is usually a safe place to be at night. What they didn’t tell me was that the client was a suspected kidnapper. I guess the company company who dispatched this job to me doesn’t include “Are you a kidnapper” on the list of questions they ask clients. I tried to call the location before I went there, but the phone number was incorrect. It was close, so I wasn’t too concerned. It was only ten minutes away, and practically on my way home. When I got to the venue, it was a run down motel with only six units. I was to go to unit #5. I knocked on the door, and a very nervous and agitated man in his 30’s answered the door. He seemed very bony, like he hadn’t eaten in weeks. His eyes were wild and deep set, and he was very frenetic. As I looked around the smoke filled room I noticed that there were seven people in the two room suite which included a kitchenette. Two elderly ladies were in a bed. I asked him who he needed to have notarized. He said he needed a power of attorney from his mom. His mother only had a thirty year old Mexican passport. Nobody else in the room had ID to be a credible witness except for the man I was working with who was the beneficiary. I told him that I couldn’t legally notarize his mother under those circumstances. Then, he pleaded with me and offered me lots of cash which he had laying on the table next to his overflowing ashtray, half empty beer bottles, and packs of cigarettes. Then he told me about the family feud he was in and how he was accused of kidnapping his mother. At that point, I started getting nervous. I told him that he should consult a lawyer. He said he was running out of cash and couldn’t afford to see a lawyer. They seemed like they were on the run. I told him I couldn’t legally help him. He continued to plead looking very desperate and distraught. Finally I had to apologize and leave.

This was one of the spookiest notary calls I have ever gone out on.  I just wonder what their real situation was, and if they were really running for the law.  There is no way to know. You can’t question someone in that condition or they might lose their cool. I guess they were probably illegal judging from the lack of proper identification. Thank god nothing happened.

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You might also like:

Compilation of Mafia related posts about the Notary profession
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=20352

Psych Episode about a Notary. Did the body die from food poisoning or was it murder?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19397

Flashpoint – Notary job for a hostage with a multi-million dollar contract
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=18798

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January 18, 2019

Notary Etiquette 104 — Miscellaneous

Filed under: Etiquette — Tags: — admin @ 10:32 pm

MISCELLANEOUS NOTARY ETIQUETTE TIPS
Return to Table of Contents for – Notary Etiquette 104

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1. Don’t sell people’s signatures or personal information.
It is bad manners and possibly illegal, and definitely unethical to sell or distribute anyone’s private information.

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2. Don’t second guess family relationships.
I once thought the wife was the guy’s mother. Oops!

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3. Handling criticism
Notaries can get very rude or defensive if criticized. The psychology of a Notary is one who claims they know everything when in reality they typically know about 30% of what they need to know and manage to get by with this sub-minimal knowledge. If you make a mistake and someone calls you out on it, don’t argue, just try to understand what you did wrong or allegedly did wrong and learn from that experience. I sometimes quiz Notaries by phone and they get very hostile when I tell them they made a mistake. You won’t learn to be smarter or impress your clients by getting belligerent when criticized — treat it like a learning experience and it might just better you.

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4. When to call the Lender
Some Notaries will call the lender if they don’t know if they should sneeze or not. Calling the lender can end up in a forty minute phone call. You will have trouble getting out of the house where the signing takes place if you call the lender. So, only call if you absolutely have to. In the 30 point course on our blog we have a chapter all about when to call the lender and when not to.

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5. Is it rude to ask for a thumbprint?
This is a topic of debate and even hostility with the Notaries. For your safety you need to take thumbprints. But, many Notaries think that it is not only unnecessary but bad to take a thumbprint because what if you offend someone? I am more concerned with what happens if an imposter drains the equity in someone’s house, the Notary ends up in court for two months without pay, and someone goes to jail. To me that scenario weights a lot more heavily than if someone is offended because you ask them for a journal thumbprint. If the FBI is investigating you because you notarized an identity thief, the falsified information, fake name, fake ID, and fake serial number from the ID will lead the FBI nowhere and they can name you as a suspect in a conspiracy and you could end up in huge trouble. A thumbprint could save your life, so take it seriously.

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6. The document is not in English
You need to refer to your state’s notary laws. Many states will allow you to notarize a document in a foreign language providing the signer understands what they are signing. If you are going to upset someone by saying no to a transaction, make sure you have the right to turn down the transaction before you ruin their day.

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7. Notarizing the elderly
If you are notarizing people who are very old, or in a hospital, ask them some polite questions about current events. Make sure they know who they are, what the document means, and if they know who is in the White House these days. Some people are out of it, so find a nice way to drill them a little bit.

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8. Rude posts on social media
If you think that nobody is reading your social media posts, think again. There are a lot of very hostile and psychotic Notaries out there who are bashing all types of Notary companies including our own. This is rude and belligerent behavior. Many title companies will not hire Notaries who are involved in this type of behavior.

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9. Being obstinate about answering questions.
When companies ask Notaries Notary questions, many Notaries do not want to answer. They feel they are professionals and therefore should not be questioned. The sad reality is that most Notaries do not have a solid notary knowledge and that is why those questions are a necessity. So, be polite and just answer a few questions without trying to wiggle out of it.

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10. Answer emails and phone messages fast.
Keeping people waiting is very rude. Try to get back to people as soon as possible.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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
Thanksgiving
Christmas

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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.

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Here are some other points about certificates

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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.

Backdating
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.

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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.

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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.

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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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30 Point Course Table of Contents
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April 20, 2013

A detailed look at the NINJA course

Filed under: Ninja Theme Articles — Tags: , , — admin @ 8:00 am

We have a new Elite certification textbook that accompanies the elite test. We will soon be using a 30 point test to evaluate the skills of our higher level notaries. But, what is this new textbook like? The ORDER of the information is subject to change as we re-edit the course and add content later on.

119 pages of riveting information!

This course integrates ancient Zen Buddhist philosophy, Ninjutsu strategy, and exciting stories with higher level notary & signing agent knowledge for the refined notary public! Here are some of the topics covered in the course.

(1) Presentation
Learn the art of interacting with prospective clients. Learn what to say and what not to say. How to answer questions gracefully, and how to stand your ground. Show your knowledge without seeming like you are trying to. Operate like a professional and negotiate like a professional.

(2) Strategy
Learn which type of advertising pays off and which should be avoided. Which certifications to get and which to skip. How to craft your advertising for maximum results; Which additional services to offer such as Apostilles and Livescan; How to choose your clients well; Picking company names; Contracts. E&O insurance; Getting paid; Handling difficult companies; Hiring other notaries to expand your empire; Handling low-ballers with ease; Marketing with Facebook and Web Sites; Researching companies; When to say no;

Scheduling strategies: Learn about the

Timed appointment strategy
The spring-it-on-ya strategy
The no surprises strategy
Business models that influence scheduling strategy
Dealing with late e-documents
End of the month scheduling strategies
Beginning of the month scheduling strategies
Tight scheduling strategies
High-brow scheduling strategies

(3) Business analysis
Advertising allows you to pick and choose; Analyzing where your calls are coming from; Assessing the companies you work for; Late Documents; Dealing with cancellations; Dealing with late payers; Managing contacts; Optimizing your client base; What do the statistics that 123notary keeps really mean?; How well do you communicate and how does that translate into clicks?

(4) Mastering the ancient art of the notes section
Which adjectives help, and which hurt? Does mentioning years of experience help? Which quick facts will win you clients and which are a waste of time? Overall recommended structure of a notes section; Analyzing your best selling features; What not to put at the top of your notes section; Expressing your personal style of doing business; 19 examples of great personal information used in notes sections; Specialties expressed in detail; How to use bullet points for your additional information; Where do you write about coverage areas, and how detailed do you get? Radius verses counties? Closing statements — call me whenever you are ready! Spelling and mistakes; Example of a bad notes section; Example of a nearly perfect notes section; Commentary on 16 notes sections; Selling features compared in detail;

(5) Miscellaneous points
Smelling good; How to dress; Calling people back; Professional answering machines; Company names; Complaining; Asking too many questions; Call back etiquette; Asking about specifications before price; Negotiating with people who won’t meet your fee; Evolutionary path to success; Charge less to get experience; The close job strategy; MOBILE OFFICES; Don’t call until the e-documents are ready; FULL-TIME or PART-TIME; 123notary’s 30 point test; Last minute appointments; The A list strategy; Precautions; Embossing; Journal thumbprints; Answering the phone at signings; Refining your notes; Dual state commissions; How many certifications; Does Facebook help; How do you let people know you are a notary; Can you afford to be expensive; Get reviews or perish; Are you available enough; Do you keep all of your paperwork; Emergencies are where you shine; Errors with bad seals; Showing up late; Complaints; Wrongful complaints; Rebutting complaints; Being selective about working for companies with potential.

(6) Zen and the art of teaching others to be on your team
Master the ancient art of: Selection, training, scrutinization, and comparison.
Choose people with the right: Attitude, pre-existing skills, ability to learn, reliability, and personability

Where do you start training? Scrutinizing the work of your new notaries. Comparing them to your other trainees.

(7) Comparing notaries
People change over time; Examining your local list of notaries to see the differences in each service provider; Elite certification; Skills verses presentation; Online presentation verses life presentation; Thinking about comparisons while you are working; What did you forget to think about?

(8) Impressions, dreams and nightmares
Where the money really is; How long does it take to do each type of signing; How do you analyze traffic; Should you charge by the minute; How much ROI do you need on your advertisement; Making an impression; The borrower comes first; Meeting at a nearby cafe; Cancelling nightmares before you get involved; What to know about a culture so you don’t get in trouble; Fedex and drop boxes.

(9) Following directions
When to call the loan officer; Sample questions; When not to coerce the borrower into signing; When to continue the signing; Listening exercises, communication exercises, following orders without a fuss.

(10) Notary knowledge revisited
Acknowledgments discussed in detail; Jurats; Official wording and cross-outs; Loose certificates; Backdating; Document dates verses notarization dates; County recorders & recorded documents; Copies of a document; The names must match; Credible witnesses; Errors on the Acknowledgment; Oath wording; Signature by X; Journals; What the OPTIONAL information section is for in Acknowledgments & deterring fraud; Embossers; Thumbprints; Seals; 10 Grant Deeds in a single session; Notary Fraud; Notarizing the elderly; Notarizing a dead person; The 4 parts of an Acknowledgment certificate; Misdemeanors.

(11) Signing Agent knowledge revisited
Understanding: The 1003, The 4506; Apostilles, Attorney States; Changing a name on Title; Checks in packages; Cross-outs; The Deed of Trust; Elizors; Identity Affidavits; The HUD-1; Initials go where? Letter of instructions; The legals; Maiden names; Prepayment penalties; The Right to Cancel; Rescinding; The security instrument; Signature Affidavit; Spousal signatures; The Subordination Agreement; Thumbprints revisited; The three magical phone numbers; Signature variations; Witness states; When to call the loan officer; Witness closings; Documents that are typically notarized.

(12) The APR & First payments
Yes, an entire chapter about the APR in detail. Learn typical incomplete descriptions of the APR that even the most experienced Loan Processors, Title Agents, and notaries use on a regular basis. Learn a professional definition and learn all of the components that go into computing the APR one by one. Show the world how knowledgeable you really are!
When is my first payment due.

(13) Interviews with our finest notaries and title companies
We get amazing points of views and endless new information by getting input from others in the industry. And then we share it with you on the forum, blog, and in our courses! We interviews many title companies. Many of these companies will be working with us on crafting and endorsing some very relevant signing agent questions. Notaries often ask why it is important for them to learn particular facts. But, if a title company who hires notaries and pays well tells you that you better learn it, then there is no excuse not to learn it,right?

We have some information from Title companies as of April 2013. We will be adding more information every month including statements about things that notaries did wrong that caused a lot of trouble. We will also be adding multiple choice questions endorsed by specific Title companies over time.

The interviews with the notaries this time were about topics of concerned to regular notaries. How do you handle low-ballers? How do you handle people who don’t meet your fee? What is your best attribute as a notary? What made you become a notary? Could you describe your evolution in business and how you became successful? Hoe do you introduce the documents and do your loan signing presentation.

The answers given by the top notch notaries interviewed were truly inspiring, unique, and fascinating. You will love this section the most of all the sections partly due to the great information, and partly because it is the most light hearted section of the course.

(14) The 30 point test
This section goes over the 30 point test. Notaries who pass this grueling and difficult test can elect to have their scores published on their listing. Test topics will include not only notary and signing agent competency, but other areas as well. We learned that following directions and communicating are huge problem areas even for the most experienced notaries, so we will be focusing on those during the test. The test will be timed and might be over the phone or online — or both! Retesting will be allowed, but we do not know what the retesting fee will be. Purchasing the Ninja course / Elite certification gives you one chance at the test providing you take it within (60) days of your purchase date. Good luck!

(15) Apostilles and Loan Types
Learn what our best notaries have to say about Apostilles, Authentications, FHA, HELOCS, Investment loans, Loan modifications, Purchases, Reverse Mortgages, VA loans, and more!

Thanks for your interest and ENJOY our Ninja course!

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February 9, 2013

2013 Phoninar Quick Course

Filed under: Best Practices,Loan Signing 101,Posts With Many Comments — admin @ 11:26 pm

Here is the study guide for the phoninar!

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

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

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

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

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

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

===================

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

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

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

You might like:
Definitions of the APR
http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=5844

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

===================

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

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

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

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

=======================

Dealing with errors in signings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

==========================

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

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

==========================

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

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

================================================

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

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

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

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

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

=====================

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

Lender
Notary Public
Borrower
Relatives of the Borrower
Signing Company
Settlement Agent
Escrow Agent
Broker
Insurance Companies
Title
Loan Servicing Companies
Loan Holding Companies who purchase the loan from your lender (at great risk)
Attorneys
Inspectors
Appraisers
County Recorders
Oh… I almost forgot — the pets of the borrower
======================================

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

=========================================

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

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

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

=========================================

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

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

================================

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

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

==================================

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

=====================================

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

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

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

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

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Beginner Notaries 103
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=21112

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November 24, 2010

Signature By X

Signature by X — Signature by Mark
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 accutely aware of the limitations that a signer has in tasks we take for granted.  Many elderly signers with physical disabilities can not even sign their own name, or more their own arm with any coordination.  This necessitates signature by X procedures.
 
What is Signature by X?
Signature by X is where the signer being notarized signs an X instead of a regular signature.
(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.
 
Be careful!
If you have ever done a hospital signing, the signer could be drugged, may not have current ID, or may have overly zealous relatives who move the patient’s arm to get them to sign their name. This is not acceptable. The signer must sign their own name.  Arms of others may be used as braces to limit the motion of the patient’s arm, but you may not actually move the signer’s arm around, otherwise that is like forgery — well intentioned forgery — which is still illegal.
 
Subscribing witnesses?
What is a subscribing witness?  Anyone who witnesses someone signing by X is a subscribing witness.  They 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 milddle name (if there is one ). Its good to create documentation to accompany the document as to what this odd procedure is, since it is uncommon and looks strange.  Its prudent to indicate the subscribing witnesses names on the actual document and that they witnessed the signature by X.
 
Comprehension
When notarizing the elderly, make sure they understand the document. The last thing you want is to end up in court because an elderly person has been defrauded out of their life savings with paperwork notarized by you.  Make sure the signer has read all the documents.  Elderly people get scammed much more than the rest of us simply because they are more vulnerable and less on the ball, especially when they are regularly drugged in a hospital.
 
Related Terms:
http://www.123notary.com/glossary/?subscribing-witness
http://www.123notary.com/glossary/?signature-by-mark

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Where do credible witnesses sign the notary journal book?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2508

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http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2447

Notary Public 101 – a free notary course
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19493

Notarizing the elderly – do more digging to be sure it is legit
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=20038

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