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June 13, 2012

Florida e-notary rules

Florida e-notary rules
The information in this link is very hard to follow or understand.  It looks like all Florida notary public applicants must be trained in notary rules as well as e-notarizations before they can be commissioned at all. I didn’t see any restrictions as to who could do e-notarizations, so I will assume (perhaps incorrectly) due to the lack of clarification that any Florida notary with an electronic journal can perform an e-notary act.
Here is an interesting excerpt:
“Notarization and Acknowledgment
(a) If a law requires a signature or record to be notarized, acknowledged, verified, or made under oath, the requirement is satisfied if the electronic signature of the person authorized by applicable law to perform those acts, together with all other information required to be included by other applicable law, is attached to or logically associated with the signature or record. Neither a rubber stamp nor an impression type seal is required for an electronic notarization.
(b) A first-time applicant for a notary commission must submit proof that the applicant has, within 1 year prior to the application, completed at least 3 hours of interactive or classroom instruction, including electronic notarization, and covering the duties of the notary public. Courses satisfying this section may be offered by any public or private sector person or entity registered with the Executive Office of the Governor and must include a core curriculum approved by that office.”

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What can an e-notary do?

The pros and cons of eNotarizations


December 1, 2011

Can a Georgia notary notarize a Florida property document?

Can a Georgia notary notarize a Florida property document?

Loan signings are common across the United States.  Any notary in any state can notarize almost any document within the confines of their state, but the document can be from out of state, or out of the country.  Notaries should refrain from notarizing copies of vital records, and Wills are generally avoided in many states as well.  Just as long as a Georgia Notary has their two feet in Georgia, it is okay to notarize a Florida document, or a loan signing for a property in Florida. 
Non-attorney Georgia Notaries are prohibited from doing loan signings for properties in Georgia, but, I don’t know any restriction for them as far as notarizing loan documents (packages that generally include Deeds of Trust, Mortgages, Grant Deeds, Quit Claim Deeds, Notes, Notice of Right to Cancel, etc.) that are from Florida, or some other state.
A Florida notary can also notarize documents that are to be recorded out of state.
One critical piece of information is that the county recorder in the state that a document is going to be recorded — have standards.  They might insist on their state’s notary wording to be on the notary certificate.  They can reject a document if the notary wording is not up to their standards, or if there is a smudgy seal, etc.  That is the job of the person who prepares the documents, and not the responsibility of the notary. A Georgia notary public, or any notary for that matter is allowed to make legal decisions for their clients which includes what type of wording to use, document drafting, or choosing the type of notarization to do, i.e. acknowledgment, jurat, protest, etc.


November 28, 2011

Florida notaries with complaints

Notary Public Florida: a complaint story
Here is a complaint from soneone who used a particular Florida notary:

This is the first time we have used this Florida notary public for a closing. The Notary made a mistake on the documents where she had the borrower date everything 5/7/2011 instead of 7/5/2011 which was a notary mistake that ended up costing the broker $1000.00. Two weeks after the closing the notary called the title company directly demanding her payment of the full signing fee because she had bills to pay. She threatened to sue everyone involved with the transaction even though we were the company that hired her. This Notary was very unprofessional. The Notary was paid at 30 days by our company.
The notary claims that the borrower signed the dates incorrectly and that she asked the borrowers to put the correct date, but they refused.  Then, the Florida notary claimed that the borrower wouldn’t sign where it said borrower, because she considered herself to be the co-borrower. Additionally, the notary claims that the borrower was very rude and condescending to her. The notary claims that she spent two hours at the signing and that the borrower couldn’t read the small print and wouldn’t cooperate. It is hard to know who is right or wrong here.  Was this a notary mistake or just the borrower acting crazy — or both?
The bigger issue is that the notary threatened to sue everyone before her payment was even late. It is professional to allow people 45 days to make payment before you start making legal threats.  Also, suing someone for $60 doesn’t really make sense in the real world.
Another Florida notary public wrote a complaint about 123notary.
The notary was late confirming her listing, and I called the notary to see if she was still alive and in business.  We have notaries move, quit, and end up in the hospital, and die all the time without even informing us. If I ever die, I will have the consideration to inform everyone within (5) business days. In any case, I called this Florida notary’s phone, and her message stated that she was no longer doing loan signings.   I assumed from this message that she was out of business as a mobile notary — boy was I wrong.  Rather than contacting me and politely informing me that she was still in business, she started slandering us on forums telling the world about the horrible crime that we had commited by temporarily removing her listing.    She created all types of drama over nothing.  I think that her MISLEADING phone message should have stated that she is still doing mobile notary work, but not doing loan signings.  That way, anyone calling her about work would have a clear impression that she was still in business. I hate being blamed for other people’s bad communication skills. People need to take responsibility for their own incompetent actions.  In any case, her listing went right back on the minute she asked me to reinstate her.  Unfortunately for her, I documented her zany behavior in the review section.  I stated that she committed no acts of misconduct, but created an unnecessary drama over nothing!  This case was  a business mistake on her part, not a notary mistake, but it is still ridiculous!

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California notaries with complaints

I make mistakes too


November 11, 2011

Notary Journal Thumbprints – they can save your neck!

Notary Journal Thumbprints
How adamant are you about taking journal thumbprints?  As a California notary public, you are required to take notary journal thumbprints for deeds effecting real property and power of attorney documents.  Notary thumbprint taking is a serious business and can keep you out of court.
Taking precautions as a notary
I have written other blog posts about precautions that notaries can take.  Notaries can use an inkless embosser in addition to an inked seal.  They can emboss every page of every document they ever notarize as a precaution against page switching which is a common crime that takes place after multi-page documents have been notarized. Taking a precaution of taking journal thumbprints is smart also, and can keep you out of court.
Suspicion of identity fraud
Let’s say that you notarized a signature on a document and that someone involved in the transaction suspects identity fraud.  The first thing they will do is to track down the notary who notarized the signature on the document and start asking questions about the signer. You will not remember the signer well, unless you took notes in your journal about what they looked like, how they acted, how old they were, etc.  But, if you have a thumbprint, that is absolute proof of the signer’s identity.  No two thumbprints are identical, and you can’t fake a thumbprint (forge a thumbprint) in front of a notary.
The investigation ended once I produced a thumbprint
If someone questions you about a particular notarization, and you say you have a journal thumbprint, the investigation might just end right there.  It happened to me as a California notary public during my first four year term. I saved myself from a potentially long visit to court.  I got a phone call from someone investigating fraud.  Someone had cheated some elderly people whom I had notarized.  One of the documents used to allegedly cheat them had been notarized by myself in my capacity as a California notary public. Since I had a journal thumbprint, the identity of the signers was no longer in question.  The person said they had no further questions the minute I told them I had a thumbprint. They didn’t even want a copy of the journal entry with the thumbprint.
Weak thumbprints with the elderly
The flaw of thumbprints are that elderly people often lose the tread on their fingers.  I am talking about really old people, perhaps in their eighties or nineties.  There is nothing you can do in that case, but at least you have a print, no matter how featureless it is. Personally, with signers over eighty, I recommend a retinal scan, which is not possible for a notary to take in 2011, but maybe in 2015… we can always hope.
Regardless of your state of commission
Whether you are a Florida notary public, a California notary, or notary in another state, if you are notarizing signatures on a power of attorney or real estate deeds, get a journal thumbprint whether it is required by law or not. That thumbprint could save your neck.  It is not a bad idea to require signers to give thumbprints for all documents and even oaths or affirmations.  It keeps them honest.  The minute they start making excuses why they shouldn’t have to be thumbprinted, that is suspicious behavior, and you might want to refuse service to them.
Bring wipes!
Don’t forget to bring wet naps or wipes of some sort.  It is polite to have something for the signer to wipe their hands off with.  Even with the NNA’s inkless thumbprinter which is a product I always had several backups in stock of, you should offer a wipe.  I strongly recommend having at least one inkless thumbprinter in your notary carry all bag!

Please visit our notary search page to see our notary public California page and notary public Florida page!


January 28, 2011

A tale of four notaries in hospitals

 A tale of four notaries and their adventures at hospitals.
Hospital notarizations are very tricky and there is a lot that can go wrong. We have several resource pages regarding hospital notarizations to steer notaries away from pitfalls.  The characters in this story are NOT based on real characters, but each one of them has either a single attitude or attribute that is similar to a real person that I am acquainted with.  This silly story will show how each notary fared and how their way of thinking worked in the long run.  The various notaries include an Arkansas notary, an Illinois notary, a Florida notary, and a Pennsylvania notary public.
(1) Jeremy Blunt, a notary in Arkansas was called to do a hospital notarization in Little Rock on the following day.  Jeremy, with his blunt, but thorough manner told them, “Make sure to tell the nurses not to drug the patient within eight hours of the signing.”.  The caregiver, who was happy to have a thorough notary, overlooked Jeremy’s blunt manner and was very willing to coordinate a temporary lapse in morphine, so that the signer (an elderly relative) would be able to sign the papers.  Jeremy called an hour before the signing to have the caregiver read the ID information to him, and had the caregiver verify that the signer had not been drugged recently, was awake and able to conversate, and wouldn’t be drugged until after the notarization, and that the nurses had been informed.  The caregiver was standing next to the bedridden signer to MAKE SURE that no intravenus drugs were given.
Jeremy arrives at the signing with his notary bag, records the ID in his journal, gets a signature in his journal and the document(s), fills out the certificate form(s), stamps them, affixes his official Arkansas notary seal, staples the documents together, and is done.  Jeremy gets his fee, thanks everyone in a very blunt way, and leaves.  The signers say, “That Jeremy gets the job done — he’s a bit blunt, but polite, and he saved our rear ends big time!!!  That OTHER notary let us down.  Thank god for good notaries!”
(2) Linda Liberty, a notary in Illinois was called to do a hospital notarization in Chicago the following day.  Since she had a strict policy of not butting into anyone’s medical business, not asking questions, and minding her own business, she omitted to ask the caregiver if the signer was on medication.  After, all thats NONE OF MY BUSINESS!  The next day, she gets to the hospital, the caregiver says, “Thank you for coming”.  Linda politely says, “Its my pleasure to serve the public wholeheartedly”.  Linda goes to the hospital room where the patient / signer is.  The patient is high on morphine and in a stupor, barely able to keep his eyes open. Linda says, “Sorry, but according to Illinois notary laws, I am not authorized to notarize someone who is not capable of thinking or communicating coherently.  I can not notarize this person in this condition, ID or no ID.  The caregiver (the daughter of the signer) said, gee, thats too bad.  Linda says, my travel fee is $60 for hospitals please.  The daughter says, “BUT, YOU DIDN”T DO ANYTHING”.  Linda Liberty says, “Excuse me, but I drove an hour and a half here in traffic, paid a toll for the bridge, sat here talking to you for twenty minutes, paid $15 for gas, and have an hour drive home. I did quite a bit and I want to get paid!!!”  The daughter said, sorry, but we can not pay you.  We are very sorry.
(3) Ralph Machiavelli, a notary in Florida (no relation to Niccolo… at least not by blood), got a call to do a signing of a power of attorney in a hospital in Tampa.  The power of attorney would be for the signer’s son in law to take over all of his banking and real estate transactions. Ralph had lots of experience and thought ahead.  This Florida notary public had had his fingers burned a few times and knew the techniques for keeping out of trouble and getting paid.  Ralph told the client that he collects a $75 travel fee at the door BEFORE he sees the signer.  He, then charges $10 per for stamp for an acknowledged signature which is the maximum allowed fee in Florida.  The son in law of the signer agreed, and they set the appointment for the next day at 10am.
Ralph gets to the appointment.  Collects his travel fee in CASH, and says, “Thank you very much”.  Lets see the signer now.  The two of them proceed to walk down the long corridor, around some bends, up an elevator, down another corridor, past a nurse station, to the left, to the right, and then into a room.  They found the signer was drugged, sleeping, and in no condition to sign or even talk.  The son in law tried to wake the signer up.  The signer eventually woke up after twenty minutes of blinking and saying, “mmmmmmm?”.   Ralph said, can you ask dad to sign this form?  The son in law said, I’ll try.  After twenty additional minutes of wasting time (a result of the medication), the son in law said, its no use, they drugged him this morning.  Maybe I have my $75 back?  Ralph says, “I’m sorry, but in addition to traveling, I spent forty minutes here waiting for your signer to sign something.  This was a complete waste of time.  Next time please make sure your dad is ready to sign at the appointed time. That means…. NO DRUGS”.  Ralph returns home with his money.  He pleasures himself with a nice baby back rib dinner, and then returns home.
(4) Sharisse Washington, Pennsylvania Notary Public at large, doesn’t stand for this type of nonsense or bluntness that happened in the above three stories.  She has thirty years of experience, and carries a handheld database of how to handle each situation with all its variations and pitfalls.  Sharisse minds her p’s and q’s, dots her i’s and crosses her t’s.  She informs everybody in a polite way, and doesn’t put herself in a position that anything will go wrong either.   This notary in Pennsylvania gets a call to go to a Philadelphia hospital to do a notarization the next day.  She politely asks the client if they have an ID for the signer.  She asks if they could read the ID to her, so that she can verify that they have the ID, and that its current.  She asks if the patient EVER recieves medication or is likely to receive it during the day of the signing. She asks if its possible that they could provide a “WINDOW OF TIME”, where they could be sure that the signer wasn’t going to be drugged.  She asks what the name and type of the document is.  She asks if it is in their possession and if they can read the document to her (so, she can verify that they really have it).  After she asks all of the questions on her database’s check list, the cordially thanks the client for answering her questions and assures them that she will be at the hospital lobby at 10am the following day. 
This Pennsylvania Notary calls at 9am to verify that they have the identification handy and that the signer is not drugged. Sharisse shows up at the hospital at 9:55 just to be on the safe side.  The client is there, thanks her for being early.  They go up to the room.  The signer is awake, sober, and conversational.  The signer signs the document and journal. Its a bit if a struggle being old and being weak, but the signer does it… because she is sober and awake… and sober…not drugged.   Sharisse does all of the remaining necessary paperwork, thanks everybody, collects her fee, and is off to her next appointment which she allowed a sufficient amount of time to get to.
Now that you have read how each of these four notaries handled a hospital job, its up to you to decide how you want to handle this type of job. Remember, that hospital and jail notary jobs and many more potential pitfalls and things that can go wrong than a regular office or home notary job.  Do your homework, be polite and stay out of trouble, and that way, you will be able to make a living. Otherwise, it is you who will be sorry.

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Power of Attorney in a nursing home

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November 3, 2010

The Florida Notary issues and quirks

Florida Notary Issues and oddities

Understanding a document
A Florida notary public is NOT required to be able to read all documents being notarized by them, but the signer must be able to read the document. The document must either be in English, or a language the signer can read. This is differently worded from many other states. In California, the notary must be able to communicate directly with the signer, but does not need to understand the contents of the document, nor do the contents need to be in English.

Foreign language signers
The notary must be able to communicate directly with the signer without the help of an interpreter in California. So, if the signer brings their children along to help translate, the notary must decline the job unless direct communication is possible. But, in Florida, the statutes do not specify that the notary and signer must be able to directly communicate, but specify that the signer must have the document translated into a language they understand in order to qualify to get their signature acknowledged.

Verifying a VIN #.
Another unusual official act of a Florida notary is to be able to verify a VIN number on a vehicle. The maximum charge for this is $10 per notary act.

Drafting documents
Other states simple forbid notaries from engaging in legal advice, but don’t spell out exactly what legal advice could consist of. A notary public in Florida is expressly forbidden from drafting any type of document for a client — both legal documents and less formal documents. A legal document is often described of one that might be used in court or submitted to a judge or attorney. Additionally, a Florida notary must not fill in blank spaces in documents as that also constitutes unauthorized practice of law or legal advice in FL.

The Florida Notary Manual page 58 states that a Florida Notary should only sell legal forms and type up documents written by their customers.

A notary in Florida may sign on the behalf of a person with a disability if the disabled person requests. Nobody has ever mentioned any rule like this before on any of our forums.

Notarizing for minors
The state of Florida allows notaries to notarize for minors and should ideally document the minor’s age next to their signature.

A notary may not notarize for an individual who doesn’t seem capable of understanding the meaning of the document being notarized.

Marriages – I do!
Florida notaries may solemnize marriages if the couple provides a marriage certificate. ME, NH, and SC, plus one parish in LA are the only other states we have heard of that allow notaries to conduct marriages, but they need a special extra license in NH to the best of our knowledge. The notary may make up their own verbiage for the marriage, and then complete an official certificate for the marriage.