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February 2, 2017

Who Did You Notarize?

Filed under: Ken Edelstein,Popular on Linked In — Tags: — admin @ 1:37 am

Last night I had an easy assignment, a deed and an affidavit. The couple would be signing both documents, and the IDs were solid. The deed was routine. They were properly named on the deed, and the notary section only needed correction to the Venue. Not so with the affidavit, that had a subtle, but IMHO a major flaw.

The affiants were mentioned at the top of the affidavit as “the below sworn borrowers”, but never by name! Nowhere on the document did their names appear. As signatures are an illegible scrawl, it would be impossible to determine specifically who was notarized. Their names did not appear in the notary section either.

There are several approaches that can be taken. The most usual solution is to ignore the notary section on the document and prepare “loose acknowledgements” and attach. I usually do it that way to identify the affiants. However, this was an original document (not emailed) and the request was to notarize directly on the page if possible. The “fix” was simple, but it introduced an additional error that required correction.

I asked the affiants to “neatly clearly and completely print their names, as on their IDs below their signatures”. One of them did so precisely correct. The other did not. The affiant’s first name (using my name in this example) was Kenneth. But when printed under the signature it was printed as Ken. That’s not the name that was notarized. And, as that printing was the only place on the document where the name was printed it had to be right. On the deed the name preprinted “under the line” was Kenneth, the same as on the ID.

I had Kenneth draw a thin single line thru “Ken Edelstein” and had both parties initial the change. All signatories initial changes. I explained that contractions of legal names on serious documents could cause later problems. Kenneth was then asked to print his full name again, and proceeded to do so. Now it was clear that the persons notarized were properly named “in print” directly on the document. Perhaps I should have printed the names from the ID. But, it is my practice to only write in the “notary section” and not touch any area outside of the notary section / Venue (if at the top of the page).

Getting the name right is possibly the single most important thing we do. And, it’s often an uphill battle – some clients are so used to their “self given name variation” that they feel their “mental change of name” – is a legal change of name. Sometimes I relate the story that I could, with a fistful of cash; take title in the name “Suzy Snowflake”. The problem arises when I wish to sell and prove that I am the owner of the property!

Who are you notarizing, stating with your stamp and embosser that they were identified pursuant to your local governing laws? Do you take their verbal assurance, or blithely accept the preprinted name on the document? To me the only right answer is that the name on the Govt. issued Photo ID is their name. Exception: Valid ID with original marriage document supporting the adopting of married last name. I also feel the name of the person(s) being notarized must appear in print on the document; a vague reference to “borrowers signing below” is not enough.

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December 5, 2016

Affidavit of Support

What is an Affidavit of Support?
The Affidavit of Support is a common immigration document. This document needs to be notarized with a Jurat (a common Notary act which involves a sworn oath.) The purpose of this document is typically for one family member to promise to the government that they will financially take care of the individual who they are trying to bring to the United States.

Where can I learn about Affidavits of Support?
For official information about this document, please consult an Immigration Attorney or the Department of Immigration. Please do not ask immigration questions to a notary as they are not authorized to answer these types of specialized questions unless they have some type of official authorization.

How do you notarize an Affidavit of Support?
Please make sure you have the document in your hand, and fully understand it before calling a Notary. The Notary will have you swear under Oath and sign in front of him/her. Next, the Notary will will in the Jurat certificate verbiage (notary wording) in the form and stamp the document in at least one place. When I was a Notary, Affidavits of Support required two stamps. There is also a problem that the document doesn’t leave ample room for the Notary Seal, so try to squeeze it in or attach a separate Jurat form if the client chooses for you to do so.

My personal experience with Affidavits of Support.
I had fun notarizing Affidavits of Support. I had lots of clients from around the world who treated me to tamales, dim sum, Thai coffee, and other international treats. Notarizing for Chinese people is the best as they are much more likely to feed you than other nationalities — plus, I love Chinese food.

What are some other commonly Notarized immigration documents?
The Affidavit of Citizenship is a commonly notarized immigration document. The Affiant commonly drafts his/her own statement and then has the Notary notarize the statement which normally includes a sworn Oath and normally requires the signer to sign in the presence of the Notary.

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You might also like:

Affidavit of Citizenship
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2028

Modern Family: An Affidavit of citizenship & affidavit of domicile Notarized
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=10989

Affidavit of Support & Direct communication with the signer
http://blog.123notary.com/?tag=affidavit-of-support

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June 16, 2015

The Right to Decline Notarization

The Right to Decline Notarization
Notary must officiate on request.

The Penal Law (§195.00) provides that an officer before whom an oath or affidavit may be taken is bound to administer the same when requested, and a refusal to do so is a misdemeanor. (People v. Brooks, 1 Den. 457.)

The above is from the handbook of law provided to New York State notaries. Not much “wiggle room” there. I am writing this wondering if I just committed a crime! Of course we decline to notarize when something is “not right”, as we should. However, the issue before me is a request to officiate at the opening of a safe deposit box.

I have never participated in a safe deposit box opening. From what I understand, the notary is present and verifies the contents. It’s often a time consuming procedure. Generally it is a low paying function. I have heard that sometimes the notary is notarizing the statement as to the contents made by a bank officer. Other banks require the notary to make the statement as to the content and, as a notary, stamp and sign. That second procedure is a self notarization and illegal in New York State, and probably most other jurisdictions.

For the sake of discussion; let’s assume the procedure requested is the former, notarization of the statement by the bank officer. That’s certainly legal. The real issue is can mobile notaries legally refuse assignments? It is my understanding that a notary in a place of public accommodation (eg: at a bank) cannot refuse often saying “you must be a client of the bank”, any legal request. However, the mobile notary does not have a walk in location open to the public. Thus, IMHO the “before whom” does not exist; certainly that propinquity is not achieved “over the phone”.

One approach to avoiding unwanted situations is to price them very high. Sure, I’m available for your safe deposit box opening and my fee, with travel, is $500. But, that is a sham; and is sure to put you on the bank’s “do not call” list; possibly precluding an attractive assignment. I did not “high bid” my recent caller. I simply stated that I choose to not accept such assignments. And, that is the heart of the issue. Was declining a proper thing to do?

I have had people, despite my advertising to being a “Mobile Notary”; ring my bell and wish to enter my residence to have their document notarized. All of these have been declined. One or two were irate, and indicated that they would file formal charges against me. If they did, my licensing authorities probably dismissed their protest. I doubt there is any requirement to allow persons into my home, with the exception of Police, Fire, Building Inspectors, etc.

Unfortunately, the real issue remains, in my mind, a bit murky. Can I refuse a valid mobile notary request? If my schedule conflicts, I consider that a valid reason. But, if I am “available” do I have the right to “pick and choose” what mobile notary assignments I accept? We certainly do that all the time with Edocs from lowball disreputable callers. Many notaries do not like to notarize Power of Attorney documents. Many clients tell me their bank refused because Power of Attorney notarizations are “against bank policy”; presumably to avoid potential litigation.

Do we as individual mobile notaries have the right to refuse service to individuals for whatever reasoning we employ? The law cited above appears to require servicing all legal requests. My “not before us” is probably on weak legal grounds; I am not an attorney. How do you respond to requests that you do not wish to accept; especially those from individuals with proper ID, etc.

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The art of the decline to new notary jobs
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=15783

Decline profitable junk work
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=15495

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November 4, 2014

The Affidavit of Occupancy

An affidavit of occupancy is a simple document (sometimes notarized), that offers the borrower generally three choices. The first option (generally by making initials) is to have the property as a Primary Residence. This option typically requires the borrower to occupy the property, usually within 60 days; for a minimum of one year. The second option is to acquire the property as a second home, while maintaining a primary residence elsewhere. The third major option is to declare the property as Investment Property, not to be occupied by the borrower; but to sell or rent for rental income. It is unlikely that the borrower cannot accurately choose the correct option.

Care should be taken by the borrower to initial the correct choice. The wrong choice can result in financial and even criminal penalties at a later date. If the borrower is buying to live in, there is really no issue. However, when the intent is speculation or rental; it’s accurate disclosure or risk problems. Lower Mortgage Rates are available for owner occupied. This is why the intent to rent or speculate must be disclosed.

Affidavits of occupancy are especially relevant for small-time or independent real estate investors. If a borrower were to select “investment property” then choose to move in permanently – there probably would be no problem. Of course they would be paying a higher mortgage rate, lenders are rarely annoyed by such activity. It is the reverse, claiming to move in; getting a lower mortgage rate, then renting it out that causes problems.

Since affidavits of occupancy are not heavily regulated or governed by formal, industry-wide guidelines, they’re often originated in-house by the mortgage lenders or other real estate professionals. Thus, unlike the standardized HUD, there really is no uniform structure to the Affidavit of Occupancy. Actually it might just as well be called an Occupancy Certification, or similar. The only aspect that seems to appear with regularity is the need for the borrower to specify how they intend to utilize the property. This is generally done by initialing a specific paragraph, but some variations may call for a complete signature.

This form is a redundancy to similar assurances that appear in the Mortgage, namely, how the borrower intends to utilize the property that secures the loan. The occupancy statement contains strong language, 30 years in prison, fine of a million dollars, etc., per Title 18 US code Sec. 1001, and others. They are a separate document that the borrower cannot ignore, often notarized; and help the lender to charge a higher rate for loans that have greater risk. Typically, rental or investment property has greater risk. The difference can be half a percent that will be several thousand dollars or more over the life of the agreement.

They serve as an extra layer of protection against mortgage fraud and provide lenders with a clear chain of evidence that can be used to expose and prosecute such fraud. Whereas a homeowner might be able to make a plausible if unconvincing argument that he or she misunderstood the intent of the “occupancy question” that’s often buried within the structure of a mortgage settlement document, he or she has little chance of avoiding penalties for breaking an affidavit of occupancy. The affiants who “break” these (often) sworn statements risk being charged with mortgage fraud. At the very least the lender can demand full payment of all money due.

In processing this document care should be taken to be sure that all borrowers initial/sign the section that specifies the intended use of the property. Some lenders might require a non-obligor to also sign/initial. It’s probably a safe bet to have any signatory to the document also initial/sign the selection section.

It is the real intent of this document to curb the activities of those who wish to obtain property at a low mortgage rate for speculation or to become “little” landlords. Sometimes it takes years for the housing authorities and the lender to discover the fraud. Those false statements can and do incur harsh civil and criminal penalties. In addition to the mortgage fraud; housing violations are common. The form is simple and easy to understand. There really is nothing for the notary to “explain”. A notarized false statement is exactly that; in addition to being a crime.

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You might also like:

The Signature Name Affidavit
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=16298

Ken’s Guide to Deeds of all types
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=16285

The Compliance Agreement
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=15828

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January 21, 2014

Affidavit of Support and direct communication with the signer

Filed under: Affidavits — Tags: , , — admin @ 12:10 am

As a former Notary Public, my favorite type of notarization was for Affidavits of Support. It was not the actual document that I enjoyed. It was the hospitality that accompanied the job which normally included various types of Asian cuisine! I’m not particular. I like pot stickers, fried rice, and rad-na! It’s all good. To do a good job doing an Affidavit of Support Notary job, you need to know how to place your stamp in a very tight area in a form and know how to administer an Oath. But, what if your signer doesn’t know English that well?

State notary public laws vary from state to state. One of the largest discrepancies is how to deal with foreign language documents and foreign language speakers. Some states require direct communication between the notary and the signer. That means that no translators or interpreters are allowed. Even if you know very little of the signer’s language or vice-versa, that might be enough to get through a notarization procedure.

Remember — notary appointments require very little actual communication. You need to ask if the signer understands the document. You need to instruct the signer where to sign the document and your journal. You need to be able to negotiate fees. You need to be able to administer an Oath in their language. You could easily learn to do Oaths in five languages without any linguistic talents to speak of! Just for the record, I used to give Oaths in Chinese and Spanish. I know relatively little Spanish although I can chatter for hours in Chinese with my acupuncturist.

And what if the document is written in a different language? Since an Affidavit of Support is a U.S. Immigration Document, it would be in English. But, what if your signer has some other documents in Chinese Calligraphy to have notarized? Does your state allow you to notarize those documents if you don’t know the language? And what if the signer’s signature is in Chinese Characters? OMG! Or perhaps I should say MSG!

Although some states allow the use of an interpreter, doing notary work is critical, and is a way to preserve and protect the integrity of signatures and Oaths. I personally feel that regardless of what your state laws say, be on the safe side and learn to communicate directly with whomever you notarize. After all, an unknown and/or un-certified interpreter could make a mistake which could cause a heap of trouble! Know your state’s laws before you go out on a notary job!

Tweets:
(1) As a former notary, my favorite type of notarization was for Affidavits of Support because the hospitality that accompanied.
(2) If you specialize in notarizing Affidavits of Support, you might get pot stickers, fried rice, and cash tips.
(3) How do you deal with foreign language docs & foreign language speakers w/o breaking state laws?
(4) Many states don’t allow the use of an interpreter — and this law is not open to interpretation!

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April 1, 2012

Do personal loans require a witness?

Filed under: Witnessing — Tags: , , , — admin @ 12:08 pm

Do personal loans require a witness?
 
Most personal loans are signed in the presence of a notary.  Refinance loan signings are commonly refered to as witness signings.  The notary is the witness in this case.  Technically, the notary needs to witness the signings of Affidavits in the loan as a matter of notary law.  Each loan is different, but there could be a Signature Affidavit, Occupancy Affidavit, and perhaps other Affidavits too.
 
What about a non-notary witness?
I have not heard of personal loans or refinances requiring an outside witness.  From time to time, if a signer doesn’t have their identification, a credible witness might be brought in.
 
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If you can’t find a witness to sign

Can a notary sign an out of state Quit Claim Deed?

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