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October 16, 2018

A guide to notarizing documents with blanks or multiple signatures

Filed under: Technical & Legal — admin @ 1:04 am

Don’t notarize documents with blanks!!!
That’s the end to the guide!

Dealing with Blanks
However, the main thing to understand is that as a Notary, you have many responsibilities. You have to identify people, keep a journal, staple things together, give Oaths, fill out certificates. You are so busy, that you might not have time to scan a document for blanks. But, you need to scan every single page.

If you spot a blank, you can put a diagonal or horizontal line through it. The main thing is to make sure that no new information is added to the document after the notarization.

You can also refuse to notarize and make the signer or document custodian complete the document before submitting it to the Notary.

Notarizing Individual Pages (or not)
Additionally you cannot notarize particular pages of a document separate from the document. Sometimes a particular page needs to be fixed or changed in a document and you might get a request to notarize just that page. You simply notarize the entire document as a whole.

Multiple Signatures
However, sometimes you get a document such as a health directive which has multiple notarizations within a very long document. I have seen health directives or living wills with fifty or more pages. Sometimes at a notarization you are notarizing signatures in the middle of the document as well as at the end of the document when the certificate is at the end of the document. I have also seen cases where there are multiple signatures in the middle of a document and a certificate in the middle of the document. This is confusing. Affidavit of Support forms have Jurats in the middle of the form too, and not enough room for your stamp (dumb government workers.)

The 1003 is a great example of a document with an entire page intentionally left blank. But, that is a signed document, not a notarized document.

The main point of this quick article is to remind you that you have to scan documents for blanks.

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April 14, 2018

Check to see if the signatures match

Filed under: Technical & Legal — admin @ 10:24 am

As a Notary, when you do an Acknowledgment, the signer does not need to sign in your presence (in most states). However, they need to appear before you and sign your journal. You must check to see if the signatures match the ID, journal and document. If they don’t, you have a big problem. Also, make sure the person looks like they do in their ID, and note down their ID information in your journal which of course you keep because you can get in trouble if you don’t keep one even in states that don’t require it.

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September 5, 2017

Comparing journal entries to fedex signatures

Believe it or not, most Notaries on 123notary do not fill in their journal correctly. It is not rocket science. The rule is:

One entry per person per document.
Two people each signing three documents = SIX journal entries.
But, won’t that take too much time and use too much of your journal? It will only take a few minutes.

Let’s say that Johnny is signing ten documents that are to be Notarized. You put the date, type of notarization(s), document names, document dates, name of signer, address, ID information, notary fee, etc. Next, you draw an ARROW down for the date which remains the same for all ten entries, the name, address, and ID. Then, the signer has to sign for all ten entries. That takes less than a minute. 123notary suggests thumbprinting whether it is required by your state or not as a security measure to help the FBI when they come a knocking. They are bothering one of our Notaires as we speak (or type) and confiscated her journal. So be prepared!

What most Notaries do is one entry per person. Then, they put all the names of the documents in the document section. They have the signer sign once. This is stupid.

If Fedex delivers five packages to you do you sign once? No, you sign once per package and there is a corresponding tracking number next to your signature so you know what you are signing for. If you have a signer sign once in your journal for multiple documents, they could accuse you of having added more documents after the fact and having used them for fraudulent purposes. You would have no way to contest their accusation as the signer did not sign for any particular document.

The bottom line is to have the signer sign once for each document. That way you have proof that your work was authorized and your journal will then be up to standards. And once again, it doesn’t take more than a few mintues and it’s not rocket science.

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October 25, 2019

How long does it take to fill in the journal entries for one loan?

Filed under: Journals — admin @ 11:47 pm

Many Notaries use the “cram it in” style of journal entries and claim that it saves time and that it is okay. But, there are several problems with it. First of all, what is the cram it in system of filling in your journal?

If you put multiple documents in on a single journal entry — that is what I call the “cram it in” journal entry style. Normally there is a single signer for these multiple docs on the entry, but some people put two which is even more crazy. Below are the problems associated with this wrongful technique.

1. Fees
Most states allow a Notary to charge a maximum fee per Notary act. If you put multiple Notary acts on a single journal line, you cannot document what you charged for each Notary act.

2. Notary Act Type
If you are notarizing multiple documents in a loan, traditionally there will be different Notary types. There will be acknowledgments for the Deeds and perhaps other documents and Jurats for the Affidavits. You cannot distinguish which document received which type of notarization if you use the cram it in method of journal entries.

3. Court Issues
If your signing goes to court, the signer could claim to not have authorized the notarization of any of the documents listed in your journal as you theoretically could be in cahutz with the Lender and could have added the names of more documents after the fact. It is rare to have an issue in court due to the cram it in method, but I have heard of two examples in my career about how it makes the court case a lot more confusing and you can’t prove that someone consented to be notarized. It can result in a situation that looks like fraud was likely. Why put yourself in that position?

4. Kosher Issues
It just isn’t kosher to add extra document names in a single journal entry. Proper journal entry procedure means one document and one signer per entry — that’s it.

SUMMARY
It is easier to just fill out the journal entries one by one. You might have to write the address many times. It might take about 45 seconds per entry, and with a loan of 12 notarized signatures you might spend 10 minutes total filling out the journal and another minute getting people to sign and thumbprint multiple times. That is about 8 minutes longer than the cram it in method and could save you lots of time in court after the fact. Additionally, if your state audits journals, it could save your career — a valid point to remember in California and in the future perhaps other regions!

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October 9, 2019

Maximum Notary fee $5, but the signing pays $200?

Filed under: Notary Fees & Pricing — admin @ 11:23 pm

Each state has a maximum notary fee per notary act or procedure. Some charge by the signature, Florida charges by the stamp if I’m not incorrect (better look that one up.)

But, if you are allowed $5 per signature, the signing has four signatures, but pays $200, then what? Are you breaking the law? Or are you being paid for mobile fees and supervising fees? The truth is that you are being paid for a bunch of responsibilities within your service:

Printing documents
Confirming an appointment
Supervising the signature and initialing of documents
Answering simple questions (perhaps)
Not answering questions you are not supposed to (unless you are a know-it-all who is looking for trouble)
Notarizing
Waiting while people read or have long conversations by phone with the Lender.
Getting the documents safely back where they belong
Availability for after service.

All of those combined definitely merit at least $125, don’t you think?

So, how do you document this in your journal? $5 per notary act. Two people x two notary acts per person is four lines in your journal each stating $5 for the notary fee. And then in the additional info section for the first notary act of the set, put down you got $180 travel / supervising fee for a loan signing. Then it is all documented just in case the IRS has any questions. Notary fees are not subject to self-employment tax but travel and supervising fees are. Look it up in the SE instructions.

But, what if you live in California and the Notary fee is $15, you have ten signatures, but the job only pays $100. You could charge $150 plus travel for that signing, but your Lender or signing company isn’t paying that. Just put whatever you want for the notary fee between zero and $15 per notarized signature in your journal. And do a reasonable estimate for what the travel and supervising fees should be — just estimate and try to be proportionate.

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September 16, 2019

Travel fees vs. Notary fees in your journal

Filed under: Journals — admin @ 11:10 pm

For those of you who keep a Notary journal, you need to record the Notary fee as one of the fields. But, what if you get paid $65 for a signing with a travel fee and two signatures? How do you differentiate between the travel fee and the signature fees?

You can either arbitrarily decide how much is a travel fee and how much is a signature fee if the job is a flat fee. Or you can base the fees on the fees you quoted the client.

When you fill in your journal, the main thing is to put a Notary fee that does not exceed the fees allowed by your particular state, otherwise you could be accused of charging excessive fees which is illegal. If California allows $15 per notarized signature on an Acknowledgment or Jurat, then you cannot inscribe more than $15 per journal entry for each Notary act.

For those of you who use the “cram it in” style of journal entries, you cannot put a notary fee for five documents on the same line. It just doesn’t make sense. This is yet another potent reason why you should not use a style of journal entry that inputs more than one document per line. It is impossible to prove in court that the signer consented to all of the documents being notarized since he is not signing for a particular one. It is also not possible to know what the fees involved are either which means you are not doing proper bookkeeping.

As far as the travel fee, you could input the travel fee for a particular appointment in the additional notes section of the journal entry and indicate that is is a travel fee. The travel fee I would indicate once on the first journal entry for a particular appointment. Correct and prudent journal entry procedure requires separate entries for each person and document. So, once again, three people each signing four notarized documents would result in twelve journal entries with the travel fee indicated in the top entry.

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September 8, 2019

The Notary Pride Parade in West Hollywood

Filed under: Humorous Posts — admin @ 11:01 pm

We are having a Gay pride parade or event in West Hollywood. Lots of people were practically naked and the clubs were booked. You cannot drive through that area without huge traffic problems. A waiter asked if I was going and I said, “Hell no!” I don’t want to be molested. Gay people in this area tend to reach out and touch someone. Why can’t hot women be the same way? If we only lived in an ideal world.

But, I think that Notaries should have a Notary pride parade. Except the Notaries should not get naked please. Maybe if you are 20 years old and hot, but not the over 50 crowd please.

There could be a Notary float with a huge notary seal on it — inflatable.
Another float could have signatures hanging on it and off it.
A third float could have an embosser.
Other floats could have documents or certificates.

Notaries could dress up as notary seals or documents or signatures. It would be like Halloween — notary style.

Good God this sounds scary. I think I like it though. I just hope none of the signatures in the parade are false otherwise it would be a falsified parade. What do you guys think?

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August 10, 2019

Foreign language documents (California)

Filed under: Carmen Towles — admin @ 11:30 pm

I get calls weekly from the public about notaries in California giving them a hard time with documents in a foreign language. Many California notaries are turning folks away (most of the time in error) because they are under the impression that they can’t notarize a document in a foreign language. The notaries feel that if they can’t read it, they shouldn’t notarize it. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Please read your handbook. You can find this information in the 2019 California Notary Handbook, page 20.

California notaries you can and must notarize any document presented in a foreign language provided you can communicate with the signer. What this means is that if the document is in Spanish (and providing all other conditions are met; such as personal appearance, have current picture government issued ID, etc. are presented) and you CAN communicate in either English and/or Spanish you must notarize their document. You don’t need to be able to read the document. Notaries notarize signatures on documents not the contents of the document. Period.

However, if you are presented with a document in a foreign language and they ONLY speak that language and you don’t speak their language you CANNOT notarize the document. You would then need to refer them to a notary that speaks their language.

Remember, don’t analyze, notarize.

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August 6, 2019

I Bounced Trustee signing – Refunded – 15 Min after docs arrived

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — admin @ 9:08 pm

I Bounced Trustee signing – Refunded – 15 Min after docs arrived
I asked the all purpose question – Is there anything else I will be asked to do other than print, go, legally notarize, ship, report completion. They said “that’s it”. They sent my standard PayPal fee in 5 minutes.

When the doc arrived there was a requirement to scan and email two of the pages; OK, I’ll live with it. Even though it requires finding a parking spot, scan, email, and back out to ship. But, as they paid so quickly – I just said to myself “such is life”. But, it gets worse, as usual with my telling a lot worse.

Postdate not Backdate.
Along with the scan and email was a statement from title that I could ignore the fact that the docs were dated for the day after the notarization was scheduled. That was on the Mortgage. Borrower was predated as (no changes) signing on the 5th, the witnesses (another surprise) date the actual 4th as do I. That sure would look strange. I check with American Society of Notaries – that’s prohibited. Strike One.

Notary notarize thy self
There were two documents for notary only signatures that called for venue, stamped and seal. The first had me swear to the validity of the attached borrower ID copy – also prohibited by ASN. The second asked me to “verify” that the correct person signed, again sworn by me. Strike Two.

The closing Affidavit
The borrower signed over the words “Minnie Mouse, Trustee” – but in the notary section after the before me was “Minnie Mouse, followed by a lengthy description of the trust details”. They did include a copy of the trust (to reassure me?). Thus I was providing the trust details that the affiant did not swear to! It was the same situation for several other documents. Strike Three.

Let me outta here
Fortunately they sent the docs on Tuesday, at 7PM with the task scheduled for Thursday at 3PM, about two days later. Of course nobody at title was there to answer the phone. How I wished I had asked for the person who gave me the assignment to provide their cell number. I sent emails only stating that I had issues with the documents and also processed a complete PayPal refund. I had not printed the docs as it is my custom to review the PDFs on screen to be sure I would be able to accept the task. I also sent screen images of the ASN site showing that the specifics mentioned above were prohibited notary functions.

Lessons Learned
During “first contact” I was given the choice of them emailing the doc to me or they would ship the package to the borrower. Always have the doc emailed to you – so you can take a look at it and not wind up in a situation where you must decline to proceed and also want a trip fee. That would make for everyone involved to be unhappy. Look carefully at those notary sections, they are your statement. The fact that they sent me the Trust is meaningless; the notarized document must be able to “stand on its own”. Years later if there is litigation would you have the Trust document? Has it been revoked? Are you qualified to determine if it is valid? I am only allowed in the notary section to have the name as on ID.

What to do
Run away from questionable jobs. Your defense attorney would cost you a lot more than the tiny notary fee. Don’t count on E&O to step in when your actions are clearly improper – Dump the illegal tasks!

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August 5, 2019

Notary High School (80’s Style)

Filed under: Humorous Posts — admin @ 8:56 am

Back in the day, they used to teach notary classes in high school just in case some of the students would one day become Notaries. They taught it in the same room they taught typing incidentally which is interesting as both types of work are clerical in nature.

TEACHER: Now class, please turn to page forty. The duties of the Notary Public are to Acknowledge signatures, take Oaths, execute Jurats, and my psychic says that in the future there will be this thing called an Affirmation.

SAM (a 15 y/o student): Hey teacher, you’re a lot hotter than the last teacher we had. Taking your class is going to be a dream come true.

TEACHER: Thank you Sam for your vote of confidence. I truly am glad to know that I indeed am hot, at least in your eyes, and thank you for making your astute observation using correct grammar.

SAM: No problem teach! Any time!

TEACHER: Oh, let’s see. There appears to be a love note on my desk. Well, thank God this class isn’t like the last class. My students hated me.

BRUCE: You’re not going to have that problem here, baby… I mean… teach!

TEACHER: That’s Mrs. Bates to you, but once again, I appreciate your vote of confidence. Let’s see what the letter says. “My love for you has no bounds, I feel like howling like the hounds, my feelings towards you I wish not to belittle or smalledge, but to thee, my love, I sincerely wish to Acknowledge.” Wow! This is not poorly written at all. I would like to instill upon you the notion that I am married, and although your feelings are appreciated, they unfortunately cannot go anywhere.

SAM: Hey, may the better man win. Your husband must have something we don’t have.

TEACHER: Yes, its something called a job… and also maturity, but that’s a completely different matter. Now, moving right along. An Acknowledgment is a notary act where the signer acknowledges having signed a document. They make this formal declaration in the physical presence of the Notary.

CHRIS: Let’s get physical… physical. Is it kind of like that song. You know the Olivia Newton song?

TEACHER: Very much so, but with no dancing. Any questions?

SAM: Yeah… Do you like younger guys?

TEACHER: I like younger people just fine. However, I cannot entertain the idea of the type of relationship you are most likely thinking about.

BRUCE: Do you attest to that? And also… What are you doing after class?

TEACHER: Grading papers. How romantic. See you tomorrow.

(The next day)

TEACHER: Hello class. Many teachers might be cross with you or stern after getting an inappropriate love note.

SAM: What was inappropriate about it? I thought it was well written and didn’t contain any bad words. That’s as appropriate as we get over in this school.

TEACHER: Yes, I see what you mean. But, you see that it is not appropriate to make romantic suggestions to your teacher. It violates teacher-student ethics.

BRUCE: What are ethics? Do Guns and Roses use ethics.

TEACHER: Well, you see, some people think it is morally wrong for teachers and students to have romantic interludes, but if it weren’t wrong, I assure you, that some of you handsome young people here, might be in business. Oh my God, I can’t believe I said that. Father, forgive me. But, my husband found out about the note and guess how he feels?

CHRIS: Uh oh, do I need to change my name and move to a different town and assume a new identity so I don’t get killed or mamed?

TEACHER: Actually, he feels flattered, and he feels more sexy than I have ever seen him feel in his life. He is all excited that his wife is a hot chick that is in demand.

SAM: Woah, I’m glad we could make your family feel all good Ms. Bates. I totally dig that. But, what I want to know now is, “Where do we go, where do we go now, where do we go… sweet child of mine….”

TEACHER: Let me guess, these are lyrics to that new group Titanium… Oh, maybe they are called Platinum. Do they wear really tight pants, look like women from an asylum and scream when they sing?

BRUCE: No, you must be thinking of Motley Crew. This group is called Guns & Roses. The ironic thing is that they don’t own any guns. But, the lead guitar guy wears this really cool hats from the 1800’s which I totally respect because if there is one subject that I like more than biology, it’s history.

TEACHER: I’m glad to know you are learning something Bruce. Anyway, a Jurat is a notarization where you swear to the truthfulness of a document and sign it in the presence of a Notary.

SAM: Is that also a physical presence? Because I noticed that your verbiage was adulterated oh so slightly.

BRUCE: I like your choice of semantics there — adulterated. Someone might feel adulterated really soon because they are in some particular person’s physical presence.

TEACHER: I understand what you mean Bruce, but it doesn’t mean exactly that. You have to be more than in a physical presence to commit adultry.

CHRIS: Can children commit adultery, or only adults?

SAM: Yeah, wouldn’t it be childery if we committed it?

BRUCE: Hey wait a second, if a child committed adultery with an adult, wouldn’t that be childery as well as adultery, or would that depend on which party in the transaction you were a part of.

TEACHER: Children, this is a very interesting discussion. There is no such thing as childery, and for your information, adultery involves inappropriate sexual behavior between a married person and someone else who is not part of that holy union.

SAM: Holy union… I mean holy cow… By jove, I think I’ve got it now.

CHRIS: Well in any case compadres, we made teach’s husband feel like a complete stud. I say our mission was a success and we can all go home now… providing that we finished our written assignment writing a paragraph about each notary act.

TEACHER: I couldn’t have said it better myself. Glad we could learn about notary work as well as adultery all in one short class, not to mention making my husband feel better than he has felt in over a decade. But, I have to go soon as well.

SAM: Why, are you going to grade more papers?

TEACHER: No, I have an appointment at Victoria’s Secret. I haven’t been there in 15 years, but now there seems to be a reason to go — thanks to certain young people with inquisitive minds, and when I say inquisitive, you know what I mean!

BRUCE: Right, like in the Spanish inquisition — they were the most inquisitive people I ever read about in history.

TEACHER: That means something completely different. But, have a wonderful day boys! Ta ta!

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