… Are we both on the same page here?
Staple it please…
I was reading a discussion on one of the notary forums. They were talking about whether or not you can notarize loose certificates as a notary. The answer is that a notary certificate needs to be either embedded in a document (meaning that the wording is typed in a document below the body of the document,) or attached to the document with a staple.
What is a certificate?
Just to clarify, a notary certificate is a piece of paper with notarial wording on it. It might be an Acknowledgment Certificate or a Jurat. There are other types too such as Copy Certification by Document Custodian in California and other particular states. These certificates are commonly referred to as Jurats, although they are technically not necessarily Jurats as most of them are Acknowledgments.
What can happen if you don’t?
A loose certificate can easily be attached to a different document by accident or on purpose. Imagine that you notarize a Power of Attorney for someone who had several powers of attorney notaries. The wrong certificate could be added to a different Power of Attorney. In a more serious case, they might be attached to a document signed by a completely different person. Such a mistake can be easily caught, but imagine the trouble that might ensue if nobody saw the mistake!
Additional notes & thumbprints are prudent
Just to be on the safe side, it is prudent to put additional information in the certificate such as how many pages the document has, the document name and document date (if any; and which might differ from the signature date,) the capacity of the signer (not allowed to be verified by the notary in particular states,) and more! Some certificate forms even allow a designated spot for a thumbprint which I always used for international documents just to keep people out of trouble — and the foreign government workers told my clients that they appreciated the extra effort!
“…. see attached”
Many companies in the loan signing business will be in a hurry to get a new “Jurat” for a notarized document if the seal was smudgy, or if they needed to have a new version of the document drafted and signed. They will commonly ask you to mail it to them which is completely illegal. You will be pressured to do so or the loan might not fund. Don’t cave into the pressure. It is your job to uphold the law no matter what horrible consequences come to your clients. Ask for the original document back, and then staple the new certificate form to the document and send it back after destroying the original certificate form. There is nothing illegal about doing a second certificate for a legitimately notarized document providing that the initial one isn’t left hanging around! Additionally, you might inform these Title company workers that their request was illegal and if they make any other illegal requests, you will report them to their state’s secretary of state! Maybe better wait until the second offense so you don’t lose the client. But, if you tolerate illegal requests, you will be encouraging the perpetrators to do it to other unsuspecting notaries who might cave in and get themselves in hot water with the state! (gulp)
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