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January 30, 2011

Notarize JUST the Name

Notarize JUST the Name
We are all familiar with the two most common notary actions. The Jurat: “Sworn to and Subscribed…….”, and the Acknowledgement: “This instrument was Acknowledged before me…..”. I’m not going to cover the not so subtle differences between the two of them. What will be discussed is the expansion of the notary statement to include virtually anything.

I just shipped off an Edoc. I had to redact (no changes were made, no replacement text, just a thin line thru with my initials at the end of the line) some superfluous verbiage. Before I get into the details let me credit the source of “my” opinions. The office of the New York County Clerk has told me, quite strongly: “You notarize just the name as proven on the ID, nothing more”. What they are referring to are what I call “name attributes” and there are many. Not to be confused with name components (Jr. Sr. III, etc.) which were on the birth certificate. Name attributes, and there are many include: MD, PhD, DDS, etc.

Those name attributes are rarely a problem and they are usually not added to the name in the notary section. What is a problem are what I will call “name descriptors”, and they are becoming a growing problem. A Jurat in the edoc included “a resident of ”. How would I know where the person signing resides? It’s not for me to say (I know, that’s a song title too). This was in the (usually) simple Sample Signature document. Why? I can’t figure out any rationale for inclusion of residency information on that document.

The same package included, after the name, the phrase “a capable person”. Capable of what? Such a phrase could keep lawyers in discussion forever. This particular bit of foolishness was on the AKA statement. Of course no discussion of name descriptors would be complete with mention of the classic and most common one: the marital status. Before me appeared Suzy Snowflake, a single woman. Says who? Suzy of course. So why is it in MY statement? If Ms Snowflake wishes to make a statement that she is not married, I would be happy to notarize it. But, I certainly will not include her marital status in my statement.

Even if I were to be absolutely sure of her marital status it is improper for me to include it in my statement. But, one cannot prove their marital status – it’s impossible; think about it. The problem stems from some shoddy computer programming taking the “vesting name” from the mortgage (where marital status makes sense) and propagating it into other areas.

I have discussed the issue of name descriptors many times with foggy headed drones who feel that because it is preprinted I must live with it. Not so. The notary section IS the statement of the Notary Public and IS subject to change and or deletion. My licensing officials don’t allow it, and I am certainly not able to state someone is capable, married or where they reside. Sometimes it’s a tough judgment call. If the descriptor is “of legal age” I would have to know exactly where that phrase is applied. If they are under 21, it “might” matter in some states; and could also be document specific.

We want to process the document with little conflict, as raising “issues” often sours the client. To me it’s better to lose a client than receive a summons; and become a party to litigation. As a public official my words have, “authority”; and with that comes responsibility for accuracy.


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January 22, 2011

Definition of Oath

This article deals with Oaths in general as well as how Oaths are significant in the Notary Profession.

What is an Oath?
An Oath is a solemn and formal statement of fact or promise that is worded in a sacred or official way. An Oath is a formalized vow normally taken before others in a formal situation.

Types of Oaths
It is common for people to take an Oath or swear under Oath when becoming a public official which would be called being sworn into office. People also take Oaths when they get married or when they are sworn into court as a defendant, plaintiff, Attorney, witness or juror. People take an Oath of citizenship when becoming a citizen. Those in the medical profession take a hippocratic Oath. But, zookeepers do not need to take a rhinocratic Oath contrary to popular belief.

Hand Gestures
It is common in the United States for people to raise their right hand with their palm facing forward at the beginning of an Oath proceeding. Different parts of the world might have different hand gestures or no hand gestures.

Some People Refuse Oaths
Some Christians refuse to swear under Oath as they always tell the truth (or claim to.) They seem to not understand that the purpose of the Oath is not to prove to themselves that they are telling the truth, but to impress upon others that they are — while the others might not have the same opinion as to the integrity of the affiant. The Notary profession now allows for Affirmations instead of Oaths for those religious people who don’t believe in oaths.

An Affirmation is a formal statement that currently carries the same and identical weight and meaning as an Oath. A Notary Public can swear someone in using an Affirmation instead of an Oath merely by substituting verbiage. Instead of saying, “Do you solemnly swear that this document is true and correct?” you could say, “Do you solemnly affirm that this document is true and correct?”

An affiant is the person who swears under Oath typically in a written statement called an Affidavit.

An Affidavit is a written document, often a legal document where the Affiant swears before a Notary Public as to the truthfulness of the document.

A Jurat is an official Notary act where the affiant swears under Oath to the truthfulness of a written statement or document. Some Jurats have handwritten statements written by the signer who is also the affiant. Others are drafted up by an Attorney, government or professional agency.

Notarial Oath
Jurats are not the only Notary act that can have an Oath. Notaries use Oaths in many aspects of their work. Notaries take an Oath of Office to get sworn into duty when their commission begins. Notaries routinely swear in Credible Witnesses who are used to identify a signer who doesn’t have identification. Notaries swear in Subscribing Witnesses as well who witness people signing a document. There are also just plain Oaths that Notaries administer. The Oath might not be written or recorded. If Notary administers an Oath, they should indicate in their journal that they gave an Oath regarding a particular subject and have the Oath taker (affiant) sign the journal in that corresponding entry.

Acknowledgments with Oaths
Acknowledged signatures normally do not have Oaths, but they could have an accompanying Oath. Acknowledgments allow the signer to sign before they see the Notary Public. However, the Oath would have to be taken in the presence of a Notary Public.

Oaths in Mortgage Loan Signings
Mortgage loan signings normally contain several affidavits such as the Signature Affidavit which requires a sworn Oath. So, if you perform Loan Signings, be prepared to be an expert at the art of Oath giving.

If Physicians take a Hippocratic Oath, what type of profession would take a Rhinocratic Oath?

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