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October 4, 2019

Is it practicing law to explain a notary act?

Filed under: Technical & Legal — admin @ 11:19 pm

Many Notaries think they are practicing law by explaining a notary act. Notaries are not allowed to choose a notary act on behalf of a client, but can they explain the requirements?

As a Notary, you have to have a signer sign in your physical presence for a Jurat, but not for an Acknowledgment (except in a few underpopulated states). So, are you practicing UPL or engaged in the unauthorized practice of law by explaining that distinction to a client?

For an Acknowledgment you do not have to sign in front of the Notary, although many lenders require the signer to do so. Is it UPL to explain that too?

Is it UPL to word an Oath for a client for their Affidavit? You kind of have to do that otherwise you cannot administer an Oath or Affirmation.

The fact is that your state authorizes you to do Notary work and perhaps even tests you on it. You are authorized do do all aspects of Notary work by law. You are not authorized to explain Mortgage documents but notary procedures are NOT Mortgage documents although they might be done to Mortgage documents.

How do you deal with this quandary?

You might also like:

Unauthorized practice of law in the notary industry
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=21317

30 Point Course – what to explain and what not to
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=14440

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January 28, 2019

Can a Notary Act as a Witness?

Can a Notary act as a witness? Yes.
Can a notary be a witness? Yes.

However, there are many types if witnessing that a Notary could engage in.

1. Witnessing an Acknowledged signature
A notary could witness a signature as part of an Acknowledgment in certain states. Most states do not require the Notary to watch the signer sign for an Acknowledged signature, but six states do.

2. Witnessing as an official notary act
Witnessing is an official notarial act in a handful of states. Notaries can get paid a fixed maximum state mandated notary fee for witnessing a signature. Delaware Notary statutes allow this as an official act, other states do not.

3. Witnessing in their individual capacity
Witnessing a document signing as an unofficial act can be done by any person in sound mind who is eighteen years of age or older. However, many prefer to hire a Notary Public to do this in their capacity as an individual simply because people prefer to have a Notary deal with issues relating to signing documents. How much can a notary charge for being a witness? There is no set charge except perhaps in Delaware.

4. Witnessing a Will
Wills can be notarized, however, most Notaries are advised that it is not proper to notarize a will without written instructions from an Attorney. Living Wills are a different story as those function more similarly to a specialized medical power of attorney. Many people like to have a Notary be one of the two witnesses to a will signing. In Vermont I heard that they require three witnesses. For mafia signings regardless of what state it takes place in, they normally prefer — “no witnesses.”

5. Credible Witnesses / Credible Identifying Witnesses
A Notary cannot act as a credible witness if they are notarizing a document for someone. However, they can use the testimonies of one or two credible witnesses depending on the situation in most states. You can learn more about credible witnesses on our blog.

6. What is a subscribing witness?
Notaries typically use subscribing witnesses for Proof of Execution signings and Signature by X or Signature by Mark signings where the signer cannot sign their name. Subscribing means signing, so a subscribing witness is one who witnesses a person signing their name.

7. Which Notary act requires witnessing?
A Jurat requires the signer to sign in the physical presence of the Notary Public as well as swearing or affirming under Oath to the truthfulness of the content of the document in the presence of the Notary. The Notary Public should be watching when the signature is made.

8. Witnessing crimes
It is possible that a Notary might witness a crime during their work hours. It is possible they might observe someone being forced to sign under duress, or even someone being kidnapped. Notaries are often asked to go to jails to notarize criminals, but the criminal would not be in the act of a crime in jail — probably. Signers might ask the notary to falsify a date, and asking the notary to engage in fraud is a crime in itself in many states.

You might also like:

Credible Witnesses — the ins and outs
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19634

Subscribing witnesses explained
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=16707

Witnessing the intake forms in Notary Heaven
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=8832

Types of witnesses in the Notary profession
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=5664

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October 5, 2018

Index of posts about Notary Acts

Here is my index of posts about various Notary acts including Acknowledgments, Jurats, Oaths, Affirmations, and more.

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GENERALLY BEST ARTICLES

Notary Public 101 — Basic Notary Acts
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19500

Oaths — how notaries completely screw them up
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19369

Airline meals versus Oaths & Affirmations (very interesting and informative)
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19549

How do I get an Apostille or Authentication?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=1793

Notary Public 101 — quick review pointers (includes notary act info)
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19679

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AFFIRMATIONS & OATHS

Affirmations — pleasing politically correct people while offending everyone else
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19606

Should you use book wording for Oaths or improvise?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19660

Oaths and the art of improvisation
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19367

Notary perjury and Oaths
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=6917

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Notary Acknowledgment Wording
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=18858

Notary loses $4000 because fraud adds name to Acknowledgment certificate
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19477

California Acknowledgment Wording explained
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=8459

Optional information on Acknowledgment Certificate
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=4407

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OTHER

Interesting and uncommon Notary acts
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=483

Information about various notary procedures
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2268

Which Notary act does not require the personal appearance of the signer?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19668

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January 11, 2018

Which Notary act does not require personal appearance of the signer?

Filed under: Notary Acts & Certificates — admin @ 12:03 pm

Most Notaries do not know their Notary acts. They cannot even name them. There is one particular notary act which is allowed in most states which does not require personal appearance of the signer.

This is a proof of execution. The proof of execution allows the signer (the principal) to sign when a subscribing witness is watching them sign. Then the subscribing witness appears before a Notary, and swears upon Oath that the principal signed the document in their presence.

This act is used when a signer is busy or not able to appear before a Notary Public. Additionally, this act is used on less than one notarization in a thousand in my estimate and most Notaries don’t even know that it exists let alone how to perform it.

Not for use on deeds. Just wanted you guys to know what this is just for your knowledge base.

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You might also like:

Notary Public 101 – Basic Notary Acts
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19500

The pros and cons of eNotarizations
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=3672

How do you get a Power of Attorney Document
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=20785

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October 17, 2017

Notary Public 101 — Basic Notary Acts

Return to table of contents for Notary Public 101.

BASIC NOTARY ACTS

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

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

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

1. The signer acknowledges having signed the document.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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JURATS

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

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

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

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

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OATHS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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AFFIRMATIONS

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

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

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

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PROOF OF EXECUTION

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

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PROTESTS

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

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July 7, 2017

5 New Official Notary Acts

Filed under: Best Humorous Posts,Humorous Posts — Tags: , — admin @ 8:50 am

My comedy writer and I decided that the existing Notary acts are boring, and that we should create some new and more interesting ones. So, here they are!

Notary Ax – For New Yorkers who can’t pronounce “notary acts.”

Adjustment: Swearing you signed the document on a certain date, but you wrote down the wrong date and it needs to be adjusted. If your notary is a chiropractor, you go for multiple adjustments. If your notary is a nude chiropractor, there are other cracks that have nothing to with adjustments.

Wine Certification – Certifying that a wine is good during a wine tasting. A particular wine had two notes but no closing disclosure, because the cork broke so they couldn’t close the bottle. Was it the wine that had a lot of notes, or the mortgage? Both.

Marriage Officiation – The form has to have room for both parties to sign. He and she. Or he and he. Or she and she. Thanks to the hes and shes on the Supreme Court who went for the hes and hes and shes and shes. Why was the lady’s mother pleased she married a mortgage broker? He had many good points.

Divorce Officiation – Where the notary executes a document to prevent the he and she, or he and he, or she and she, from executing each other.

Disavowment – A notary act where you swear you didn’t sign a document. “That’s not my signature. I didn’t sign that. It doesn’t even look like my signature. A bad forger must have did that!” “What happens when a forger gets his signature forged? Does that make it valid?”

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You might also like:

Interesting and uncommon Notary acts
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=483

Comedic guide to notary pricing from Apo-steal-of-a-deal to Zilch (not getting paid)
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=18941

Are you a Yes-tary or a No-tary?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=16626

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February 2, 2011

Interesting and uncommon notary acts

Notary Acts
 
There are various types of notarial acts, and the rules and types of acts vary from state to state.  In this blog entry, I’ll go over all of the types of notary acts that I can find information about, and introduce some of the points that differ from state to state.  The states associated with each specific act are NOT necessarily the ONLY states associated with those acts, but are the state(s) that we are referencing.
 
Acknowledgment
An acknowledgment is the most common notary act and accounts for roughly 80% of all notarizations with Jurats being in second place.  Many states allow notaries to charge a maximum fee per notarized signature, while Florida’s fees are based on how many times you affix your stamp when executing an acknowledgment.
 
Affirmation
An affirmation is a type of Oath where there is no mention of a higher power (God).
 
Attesting to a Document’s Validity (AR)
This is a notary act that is peculiar to Arkansas.  I don’t recall seeing this as a possible notary act in any other state. Please visit our Arkansas Notary page for more information.
 
Authentication, Apostilles, and Magistracies (General)
These are general notary public procedures common to most states. However, less than 1% of notaries know how to do such notary acts, and you normally have to contact your state notary public division to learn the rules.  The process of getting one of these generally takes a minimum of a few days, and the price is usually high.
 
Certified Copies (WA)(CA)
Some states allow Certified copies of powers of attorney such as California.   Other states often allow a notary to make certified copies of any type of document.  New York doesn’t allow any type of certified copies. The type of documents that a notary may certify copies of vary from state to state.  Washington allows a notary to charge $10 per certified copy of any document for example.
 
Copies of Journal Entries
California notary law allows a small fee of 30 cents per entry for notaries to charge if a member of the public needs a copy of a specific journal entry.  The notary should be careful to make sure that all other transactions recorded in the journal do not show up on the photocopy sent to the individual making the inquiry to protect people’s privacy.
 
Depositions – Certifying Depositions (AR)
Most states use the term, “Take a deposition” while Arkansas allows notaries to certify a Deposition.  Some states allow a fee for the Deposition and then another fee for each oath to each witness.  Rules vary from state to state.
 
Document Copy Charges (CO)
Colorado notary law allows a notary to make copies of documents and charge for this act.  This act ensures that the copied document is a real copy and not a different document or one that is slightly altered.  If you are in another state that doesn’t have this type of notary act, its still advisable to witness the photocopying of documents that are to be certified as copies. Its also not a bad idea to make a notation on the document that you witnessed it being photocopied even though thats not an official act outside of Colorado that we are aware of.
 
e-Notarizations
Rules for e-notarizations differ from state to state.  The main point is to use an electronic journal to record transactions and for the documents to be online or electronic documents.  e-signings are signings where some of the documents are online while others are printed out.  A regular journal is used when doing an e-signing although the signature on the document is electronic.
 
Jurat
This is the second most popular notary act.  A Jurat requires the signer to sign the document before the notary and to take an Oath before the notary as well regarding the document or verbiage.  Several years ago, Jurats did not require identification in many states, but as of 2011, almost all states require the signer / affiant to be positively identified for this notary act.
 
Marine Protest (RI)
Rhode Island is the only state we have seen to have a separate fee for a marine Protest.  A Protest is an act where
someone Protests non-payment of a bill.  A Marine protest or sea protest is a statement where a captain or officer can include relevant details about the ship, voyage, cargo, drafts, date of departure, date of arrival in next port. This type of act is used if unfavorable weather conditions were encountered.  The Marine protest will protect the vessel and their owners from further claims brought forward by charterers, shippers, and cargo receivers.
 
Non-Certified Copies (VA)
Virginia allows for notaries to make copies that are not certified.  A non-certified copy if for information only and is not accepted for legal purposes such as school enrollment or applying for a drivers license or passport.
 
Oath
Most if not all states allow notaries to take Oaths.  An Oath is a solemn promise or statement where the affiant swears that they are telling the truth.
 
Photocopying & Supervising Photocopying (AR)
In Arkansas, a notary can get paid to photocopy documents or supervise the photocopy of documents. 
 
Proof of Execution
This notary act requires a subscribing witness who sees the principal sign a document.  The subscribing witness appears before the notary public.  This act is the only notary act where the actual signer doesn’t appear before the notary.
 
Protest
This type of notary act is where an individual protests the nonacceptance or non-payment of money owed.
 
Safe Deposit Openings (NY)
Here is a unique notary act only allowed in New York and Florida that we are aware of.  The notary must witness the opening of a safe deposit box and record the contents of the box in a certificate, but not in their journal.  Please click on the link to read the details.
 
Taking a Renunciation of dower or Inheritance (SC)
Please see the South Carolina notary division’s website for details on this unique notary act.
 
Verification – Taking a verification upon an Oath or Affirmation (DE)(PA)
Please consult the Delaware or Pennsylvania’s notary division website for more information on this unique act.
 
Weddings (ME), (SC), (FL)
Notaries in Maine, South Carolina, and Florida can solemnize weddings.  Notaries need to be familiar with the procedure and proper wedding etiquette to provide this type of service.
 
Witnessing an Absentee Ballot (FL)
Notaries are not allowed to charge for this notary act in Florida, or California. 
 
Witnessing or Attesting to a Signature (DE)
Attesting to a signature simply means witnessing a signature, and then signing your own name to document that fact that you witnessed a signature.  Delaware is one state of many that considers being a witness an official notary act.

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September 6, 2018

UPL — Unauthorized Practice of Law in the Notary Profession

Unauthorized practice of law… what does this phrase really mean? The sad truth is that this concept is widely misunderstood, and differs from state to state. The definition of UPL (not UPS) is generally arbitrary and is often set by bar associations set on protecting the financial interests of their Attorneys who don’t want any unnecessary competition in the legal services field. So, one could say that Attorneys as a group are engaged in a form of corruption and using the law to enforce standards that serve no purpose other than to eliminate competition (sounds like the mafia). Instead of burying you in cement, a bar association can investigate a person suspected of UPL, and sue them or perhaps fine them for huge mounts of money leaving the Notary essentially financially broken.

Case Study
One of the Notaries listed on our site lost or almost lost (forgot the story as it was from a decade or more ago) $40,000 for doing a loan signing in a state where Notaries are not allowed to do such things.

Attorney States
In certain states that we refer to as Attorney States, only Attorneys are allowed to do loan signings. The premise is that by engaging in the facilitation of a loan signing, that you are making an unstated assertion that you have the same knowledge as a Mortgage Broker, Lender or Attorney and that you can explain the documents. This is simply not true. When a Notary goes to a loan signing, some Notaries do not explain any terms or documents while some do. In my opinion you should catch a Notary in the act explaining a legal term and then bust them. But, merely by facilitating the signing a loan in an Attorney state, a Notary can get busted.

States where Notaries are not supposed to facilitate the signing of loans include Georgia, South Carolina, Massachusetts and perhaps others. This information could be outdated and the interpretation of the rules is far beyond my capacity. However, many Notaries in all of these states advertise on 123notary claiming that they do signings. However, I have heard that they typically don’t do signings for properties that are in their state, but only for out of state properties. I have heard that this is still illegal, but I guess people are not getting caught. My word of advice is to consult an Attorney before doing something that could get you in trouble.

Notary unauthorized practice of law
As a general rule, drafting a legal document, giving legal advice, giving advice about a court case, giving advice about how to draft a legal document, or helping to interpret a legal document might be construed as unauthorized practice of law. However, I am not an Attorney and cannot say with any certainty or authority what constitutes UPL in any state. I am just relaying to you what I have read over the years. Additionally, explaining the terms of a loan or what certain mortgage terms mean might be considered UPL as well – once again, I am not sure, but you can ask an Attorney if you really want a definitive answer.

Choosing the Notary Act
As a Notary Public, it is the choice of the client or signer which type of Notary act they want. The Notary has the right to explain the various Notary acts to them and the rules that apply, but the Notary cannot choose for them. Under many circumstances there might only be one particular Notary act that the Notary would legally be able to perform. In such a case, the Notary should explain the circumstances, how to change the circumstances and ask if the signer wants to proceed as is.

It is common for Notaries while administering Jurats to automatically perform an Affirmation because they are afraid to offend people by administering an Oath. First of all the Notary is required to give the signer a choice as to which Notary act they want to have performed. Second, many people might be offended by Affirmations more than by Oaths. However, I can state with definitiveness that dogs prefer Affirmations.

Drawing in a Signature Line
It used to be common in loan signings for a document to have no signature line, yet have an instruction that it must be notarized. You cannot notarize a document without a signature, and how can you sign without a signature line? If the borrower draws in the line, that is their business, but if the Notary does it, are they practicing law?

Oregon Standards
I have heard that in Oregon, a Notary may not cross anything out on a Notary certificate, nor may they attach a new Notary certificate. But actions would be considered practicing law there as far a I know in my layperson capacity.

Summary
Unauthorized Practice of Law is a crime and is a very wishy-washy state-specific convoluted subject. Please ask an Attorney for a professional opinion on this subject if you are at all concerned.

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You might also like:

13 ways to get sued as a Notary
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19614

10 risks to being a Mobile Notary Public
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19459

Notary loses $4000 in legal fees because fraud adds name to notary certificate.
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19477

5 books every notary should own and read
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=3668

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December 12, 2017

The Notary Profession is a Profession — act like it is!

Filed under: Marketing Articles — Tags: — admin @ 3:52 am

Carmen and I are tired of Notaries treating the Notary profession as if it is a quick way to make some cash on the side — Make a few extra bucks — five bucks here, ten bucks there. This is a very bad way to look at the profession. First of all, there is liability in this profession. You can get sued even if you don’t do anything wrong. People are doing big deals that are being Notarized. If something goes wrong, they can sue you for a few thousand dollars. If the Lender did something fraudulent, you might get wrongfully sued too. If you put your package in a drop box that doesn’t get picked up and the borrower loses their lock — guess what could happen? You get the idea.

The root of the problem lies with the states who mostly have low requirements or no requirements for being a Notary. If you are 18 or over, not a felon and are breathing, you can be a Notary. Being a notary is a profession that safeguards the transactions of multi-million dollar estates. Any lack of integrity or caution on the part of the Notary can lead to disaster.

Imagine that you Notarize John Hancock only to find out he was a different John Hancock and siphoned a million dollars of equity from someone’s estate. You might end up in court as a witness, accomplice, or get sued for negligence. You have no idea what you are playing with in this profession. You have to be careful what you put your stamp on. You might step on a mine.

Many Notaries also think that because their state has minimal requirements, that it is not necessary to go above and beyond your state minimum Notarial behavior — this is wrong. If you don’t keep a journal, don’t use an embosser and don’t thumbprint, you can get in huge trouble.

Think of state requirements like you think of speed limits. If the law says you can go 100 on the highway as was the case in Montana in the past and perhaps present, that doesn’t mean you are safe doing so. There could be deadly accidents. Just because you slow down to 95, you think you are being prudent, but are you really? You are still going faster than is safe. You can blame the state, but you are responsible for your own behavior.

Most professions have licensing tests that you have to take every year or two. Some professions make you take a test of 200 questions to make sure you understand all of the regulations and standards in your industry. The Notary profession has NNA tests that are taken every year or two. California has an exam you take every four years. But, people complain when I want to ask a few questions. People try to convince me that they know it all and don’t need to be tested because of all of the years they have been in business. These are the same people who score 20% on my quizzes.

Once again, the Notary profession is a profession — treat it like one. You should be quizzed every year on all the sites you are on. Since the states do not test your competency, I am forced to. It is a huge waste of my time and really frustrating dealing with all these resistant and incompetent people who think they are so smart.

If you really are so smart, just answer the questions, get an A, and then get on with your day. It would take two minutes to test people if they just knew the answers. The problem is that they resist, and then have to think about everything I ask, and then want to argue, and I need to teach them things and a simple quiz can take fifteen minutes that should take two minutes if I were dealing with professionals. How upsetting and what a waste ot my time.

To be a professional you need to do more than study. You need to master the art of being a Notary. You need to know everything and skip the snow job of trying to convince others you know everything when you don’t. The con jobs are getting very old. I have heard it all too many times. I really don’t even want to list such people. 123notary is a directory for professionals, not posers. At least that is the word young people use these days. When I was growing up we didn’t use that king of language, we said fakers.

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September 10, 2017

Initial Notary Contact Check List

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — admin @ 12:27 am

Initial Notary Contact Check List
Ring, Ring, Ring – does the sound foretell revenue, or will the caller merely function to “busy” your cell phone? Most of us are Mobile Notaries, we do not maintain a “walk in” location, and we go to our clients to earn a “travel” fee. Many callers gloss over this fact; they see the word Notary and want to go to your location. Sometimes they just ring the bell; usually to find that the Notary is “out”. More often they call, now the challenge is to determine their expectations.

Moving the Bottom Line to the Top Line – A quick way to separate the “tire kickers” from the buyers is to quickly state your minimum notary fee, prior to getting into the gory details. “My minimum Mobile Notary fee is $XX. Responses vary from “WOW, that’s a Lot” to “no problem”.

Get the data needed to formulate a Quote – The basic information is What, When and Where – there is more that you need to know; but those three are a good start. When and where are obvious – usually. I’ve been “sucker punched” with an address that sounded routine, but turned out to be the United Nations building; with very time consuming security procedures. Also be careful about the when, if it’s not soon; check for holiday traffic and stormy weather!

Ahhh, the What – There are other aspects, but the two that you really must nail are Exactly what is to be notarized, and how many notarizations are required. I ask “how many notarizations are required?” and they respond “one”. They often are responding about “how many people are being notarized” not how many notarizations are required. So, I have modified my question. I now ask “how many signatures will be notarized?”. If I have to ID 37 affiants to a single contract, to me that is 37 notarizations; even if I stamp and sign only once. Also, it’s vital to determine exactly what document is to be processed. I can’t do Wills, or copies of NY Birth Certs, and many other vital records.

By now you should have a good idea that the task is doable. They agreed to the fee, and it probably is more than the “minimum” initially mentioned. Also, you know what, when and where. So far it’s a go, but will it be a pleasant session for the notary?

More that you must find out – Are you the person I will be notarizing? Often a relative or clerical is assigned the task of “arranging” the notary. If you are not speaking to the affiant how do you know that they speak English, or some other language you are fluent with? Ask! And, of course you need to find out what the affiant has for ID. Going to a large office building? You need the company name, what floor they are on, and perhaps the room number. Want to wait in the lobby for clearance? Probably not, so ask for a pass to be called down to the lobby to be there prior to your arrival. Did you get a contact cell number that will be answered while you are in route to the appointment? You might get stuck behind a fire truck, can you reach them?

A lawyer’s time and advice are his stock in trade, said President Lincoln. I value my time too. It’s not unreasonable to ask if the affiant will be able to meet with you as scheduled. “You want me there at 4PM, will you (or the affiant) be able to meet with me at that time? It’s a fine line between being perceived as “pushy” and sitting for an hour for a base fee. I’ve told admin assistants that I cannot be late for a subsequent appointment and must leave in half an hour.

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