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August 22, 2017

Oaths — how Notaries completely screw them up!

Oaths are an official Notarial act in all states if my memory serves correctly. Oaths unfortunately are very misunderstood and generally poorly administered if administered at all. So, let me straighten out some common problems that I have seen with Oaths.

By definition, all Jurat Notary Acts must include an Oath. A Jurat is a Notary Act with a written statement and an Oath. The documentation of the Oath has verbiage such as, “Subscribed and sworn to before me ______ on this ______ (date) by _____ (name of affiant).” There are various problems that occur here. Oaths also can occur as independent and purely oral acts.

1. Omission of Oath
Most Notaries omit the required Oath for a Jurat. In California, your commission can be suspended, revoked, or terminated by omitting an Oath and you can also be fined $750 per incident. Other states do not teach Oaths, not fine you if you forget to administer it which is exactly why most out of state Notaries simply don’t do the Oath. Nobody is putting a gun to their head, so why should they unless they have integrity which they usually don’t have according to my recent findings. Sad!

2. The word Swear omitted.
When administering an Oath, you must use the word swear, otherwise in my book it is not an Oath. A good Oath requires the signer to raise their right hand, the word solemnly should ideally be used before the word swear (for good form), the phrase, “under the penalty of perjury” could also be used, and the clause, “So help you God” should also be used. Although there is no prescribed Oath verbiage, if you don’t swear, it isn’t an Oath. Some Notaries prefer to affirm, state, acknowledge or attest rather than using the word swear since swearing offends the ultra-religious and ultra-athiest members of the public. So, for those who don’t want to swear, don’t use an Oath — use an affirmation instead which does not mention God or swearing.

3. What if people don’t want to use the word swear?
Some people find it offensive to use the word swear or God in an Oath. For them, you use the sister act which is an Affirmation which is allowed in most if not all states. But, don’t confuse the two acts even though they are interchangeable — they are not the same thing and you can not cross use the verbiage for one act on another. If you Oath you swear and if you do an Affirmation, you Affirm. You do not affirm with an Oath.

4. Using exchangeable verbiage.
Some states allow or prescribe verbiage such as, “Do you solemnly swear or affirm that the contents of this document are true and correct?” That is acceptable to me as an Oath because you used the word Swear even though you had alternate verbiage. But, you did not omit swear to only use the alternate verbiage which would disqualify the act as an Oath.

5. Court Oath vs. Jurat Oath.
There are many types of Oaths out there. You can swear people into court, solemnize a marriage, swear someone into office, or have them swear to a document. Notaries should PRACTICE the various types of Oaths so that they can master each type and not confuse them otherwise the Notary will look like an idiot (this happens a lot with our members.) It is common for me to ask for an Oath for a document and the Notary says, “Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?” I say, “I do, but can we now say an Oath for my document?” That is not a document Oath, that is a swearing you into court Oath.

6. Swearing that I voluntarily signed a document
Many Notaries will have me swear that I voluntarily signed a document. This is required in many instances in Massachusetts, however, swearing that I signed a document is not necessary in most states since the Notary watched the person sign, and making sure you signed voluntarily has never been an issue for anybody I know. If you were under duress, would you suddently tell the Notary simply because he asked or would you get nervous? Hmmm. There is no harm in asking if I signed a document on my own free will, so long as you don’t forget to give Oath verbiage about the document in Jurat Oath where the point of the Oath is to swear to facts contained in the document.

7. Swearing that I am the person in my ID
This is ridiculous. If I were an identity fraud, would I say that the ID was not mine? Many Notaries administer an Oath on my ID when I ask them to do an Oath on my document. The ID is not the document — get it straight.

8. Omitting the word document
If you are doing a Jurat Oath but give an Oath that “the information” is true and correct doesn’t cut it. If you are giving an Oath about a particular document, you must reference the document somehow. “Do you solemnly swear that the contents of the document before you are true and correct to the best of your knowledge, so help you God?” That would be an acceptable Oath because you are swearing, and swearing to a particular document rather than to thin air.

9. Relying on cheat sheets.
Many Notaries can only do an Oath when they have their recommended wording from their state with them. If for any reason they should lose the cheat sheet, they would not be able to lawfully conduct their duties as Notary Public. If you practice giving Oaths, you can give them by heard. Additionally, many Notaries give inapplicable Oaths as I mentioned above, so relying on reading text that you don’t understand the meaning of is useless. You need to understand the meaning and significance of the Oath you are giving otherwise it serves no intrinsic purpose.

10. Subscribed and Sworn.
Many Notaries say, “Subsribed and sworn to this ____ day of ___” when I ask them to deliver an Oath. That is the written documentation that an Oath took place. It is NOT the Oath itself. Oath wording typically starts with, “Do you solemnly swear…” and you should have the person raise their right hand.

11. A Jurat is not an Oath
Oath is to Jurat what Motor is to Automobile. A Jurat has an Oath, but a Jurat is not an Oath. An Oath can be an independent Notarial act which in most states has no written certificate. Florida has a useless certificate which says there was an Oath, but doesn’t give any indication of what was sworn to or the type of Oath. You might as well not have paperwork if it is that lame.

12. Notary Acts
When I ask people to name some Notary acts, most people claim not to know what I am talking about. They commonly mention Acknowledgments and Jurats. Few mention Oaths. Oaths and Affirmations are Official Notarial Acts in all or nearly all states. Notaries are required by law to administer Oaths if the public requests them from you. If you have never been asked to do one, that doesn’t preclude the possibility that you will be asked to do one. You are also not exempt from the responsibility of knowing how to administer one. If you are a commissioned Notary Public, you are responsible to administer Oaths, and correct sounding relevant Oaths, otherwise your state has the right to decommission you — and in my opinion they should.


Here is some standard Oath wording I like for documents.
“Do you solemnly swear under the penalty of perjury that the information in this document is true and correct to the best of your knowledge and that you agree to and will abide by the terms — if any in the document, so help you God?”
Please notice that I mentioned terms. What good is swearing to an agreement if you only agree that the agreement is true? The point of an agreement is that you agree to the agreement and will follow the terms of the agreement. Having a “useful” Oath rather than a correct but “useless” Oath makes a lot of sense. If your Oath serves no purpose, then why give one?

Here are some examples of wrong Oaths for Jurat documents for your reading pleasure.

“Do you acknowledge that this is correct?”
“Do you affirm that the document is correct?”
“Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you God?”
“Subscribed and Sworn to before me.”
“Do you solemnly swear that this is your true ID?”

“Do you swear that the foregoing is correct?”
“Do you solemnly swear that the document in front of you is true and correct to the best of your knowledge?”

Most states do not teach the art of Oath giving, but they should. Notaries are required by law to administer Oaths, yet the majority of Notaries either give no Oath, inapplicable Oaths, or poorly worded Oaths while others rely on cheat sheets which is bad. Using cheat sheets is okay, but relying exclusively on some standardized wording for Jurat Oaths is not acceptable. There are situations where there is REQUIRED prescribed wording where you have to use that particular wording. In such a circumstance it is okay to rely on particular wording. However, for Jurat Oaths, you should be able to make up an Oath, otherwise I will fail you.


September 16, 2016

Notary in Vegas: Notary Buffet

I just talked to a Notary in Las Vegas. I asked her if she had ever thought of having a Notary buffet.

The Notary Buffet — All you can sign for $30
Visit table A for Acknowledgments
Visit table J for Jurats
You can swear all you want at our Oath table.
Get legal advice at table L from a real Attorney.

And if you do thumbprinting we have a choice of wipes that Tony Roma’s just gave us as a courtesy after we notarized a truckload of ribs for

We also have a table filled with standardized Power of Attorney forms. You can get permission to travel for minor forms, Limited Powers of Attorney, Medical Powers of Attorney and 20 minutes free Attorney
consulting at table L.

Play the Notary Wheel
If you’re not sure what type of notarization to get, we are not legally allowed to make recommendations, but you can spin the wheel to help make up your mind. Just throw the ball on the wheel and see where
it lands! It might land on Jurat, Acknowledgment, Protest, or Proof of Execution. If it lands on Certified Copy by Document Custodian you might be in trouble though. I had bad luck when I played the Notary
wheel. It landed on “lose a turn” after I had bet $10. Next time I’ll be more intelligent — after all, with the Jurat sale down the street
I could have gotten three jurats for $10.

Supplies & Snacks
Although pads of Acknowledgments are not for free, you can get a single certificate if you need one at the Notary Buffet. You can get notarized snacks as well. I got a Notary ink filled donut. The insides were filled with thin chocolate sauce that looked like seal ink. After that I went to the Chinese Boba Bar and got a Jackfruit Jurat Smoothie and some Affidavit-Ade which contains electrolites. I asked for a Dr. Pepper, but was told that they had to revoke that item as Dr. Pepper was practicing without a license.

Mortgage Rates
Poor Sally didn’t do a good job shopping around for her Mortgage. So, she played the Notary Buffet’s Interest Rate Wheel game. You spin the wheel and get a rate from a random lender rather than comparing rates at a dozen or so institutions. Sally lucked out and got the lowest rate in town. Perhaps not a learning experience, but at least she will be able to afford her payments.

As I was learning about the Notary Buffet, I spotted a guy with a stack of documents up to the ceiling. He was hogging table J to the point where after each document, they made him got back and wait in line. Boy, talk about taking advantage. He was a 400 pound guy too. He got that way from taking advantage at other Vegas buffets and eating up all of their profits. That’ll teach those buffet guys not to have a weight limit!

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July 26, 2015

10 tight points on Loose certificates

I have not written about this topic for a long time because I take for granted that Notaries are experts on the topic. In real life, it is possible that many Notaries do not know how what to do with a loose certificate. So, here are the correct steps to take.

(1) Purchase Certificate Pads from the NNA
Why the NNA? In my experience, they are the best source of 1-stop shopping for Notary supplies. They have great journals and pads. You cannot attach a loose certificate if you don’t have one, so keep them in stock and guard them with your life. Your career as a Notary rests on having the correct forms. You need Acknolwedgment Forms, Jurat forms, and perhaps Copy Certificate by Document Custodian forms. Make sure the wording is acceptable according to the current laws of your state!

(2) Keep the Pads in your Notary Bag
Having the right forms is no good if you don’t keep them with you. Clients don’t want to hear the old, “I left it at home” routine. It sounds like your dog ate it. We are not in junior high anymore! Keep your law primers, journal, pads, seal, and anything else you need on you at all times and remember to keep your journal and seal under lock and key when not in use!

(3) When to use Loose Acknowledgments
If you need to notarize a document and the document doesn’t have notorial wording, it is time to use a loose certificate! If a document has incorrect notary wording for your state, you need to consult your state laws to see if they will allow out of state wording. Most states will allow out of state wording providing that the wording isn’t substantially different. If the venue or the name of the signer(s) is wrong or has an extra signer, or leaves the name of a signer out — you might want to attach a loose form.

Also See: Do you Notarize loose certificates as a Notary?

(4) Fill Out the Form
Filling out forms is not rocket science, but more than 50% of notaries omit crossing out the he/she/they and the capacity(ies), etc. If Joe signed the document, then cross out the she/they unless you know more about Joe than we do. You might cross ou the (ies) too. Don’t forget to fill out the venue, stamp, and sign the form. If your state doesn’t require a stamp, consider moving to a better state!

(5) If the Glove Don’t Match, you Must Attach!
Certificate forms must be attached to corresponding documents by law in many states. This means by staple, otherwise it will most likely be detached which could lead to a lot of confusion and potentially to law suits. You should also indicate the document name, date and length on the certificate as well as any other pertinent and identifying information about the document just in case the certificate gets separated. Many Title companies detach certificates which is completely illegal, but they don’t care because they are above the law — or think they are — or never got caught — yet…

(6) NEVER Send a Loose Jurat in the Mail
You can go to jail and lose your commission if you send a loose certificate in the mail. Lenders often ask you to just send a loose “Jurat” in the mail if the one you sent is not acceptable for one reason or another. You can request that the original document is sent back to you. That way you can destroy the original Acknowledgment or Jurat and add another one and staple it to the document. If you send a loose one, it could be attached to a different document and used for fraud, and you might end up in court.

(7) Some People Create Their Own
Some notaries who are penny foolish create their own Acknowledgment pads. You could put company branding on it to gain attention for your company. Just make sure you don’t goof as this is a legal document.

(8) Thumbprints?
Most Notaries only put thumbprints in their journals if they thumbprint at all. But, the NNA’s certificates have, or used to have (I’ve been out of the loop for a while) room for thumbprints. It looks more official for really critical documents if you get that extra thumbprint. For documents going overseas, I recommend this as foreigners think you are the best Notary in town if you give thumbprints — and embossing looks really official too!

(9) Two Certificates?
Sometimes you might need to attach multiple certificates for a single document. This is fine. One for his, and one for hers. They might even be notarized at different times. The custodian or recipient of the document might or might not like that, but it is all perfectly legal! You might have a lot of staples if you attach them at different times, but that is how the Notary business works.

(10) Jurats with Oaths
Sometimes if you are administering an Oath on a short statement, you can write the statement right on the Jurat form. In this case, you don’t need to staple the form to a document as the form includes the contents of the document as well as the Notarization. Don’t forget to have them raise their right hands and swear under Oath!

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November 26, 2011

Notary Certificates, Notary Wording & Notary Verbiage

Notary Certificates,  Notary Verbiage & Notary Wording

Notary terminology is sometimes confusing, so there are a few things to remember.  There are different types of common notarizations.  Acknowledgments and Jurats require certificate wording (notary wording), and Oaths and Affirmations could be purely verbal.  A Jurat requires that an Oath or Affirmation accompany the signing and certificate wording (notary wording, notary verbiage).  An Acknowledgment is purely paperwork in most cases, however, I have seen even an Acknowledged signature have an accompanying Oath.  80% of notarizations are Acknowledged signatures, while roughly 19% are Jurats, and the remaining 1% would be a mixture of other types of less common notary acts.
Acknowledged Signatures
The 2011 & 2012 notary certificate for an acknowledged signature includes a venue (documentation of county & state), the name of the notary, the name of the signer, the fact that the signer appeared before the notary and acknowledged signing a particular document.  The current notary verbiage on this form should include the date of the signing, and the signature and official seal of the notary as well.  The actual notary verbiage differs from state to state.  California notary verbiage is a bit different than Ohio notary verbiage.  Also, Ohio has different types of acknowledgments such as corporate acknowledgments and an attorney in fact acknowledgment.  You should ideally research your state’s notary verbiage to see what it is.  If you visit our find a notary page, there are links to states, and on the state pages, you can find a lot of information about acknowledgments and jurats in those states.  We have detailed information for Florida, Illinois, Michigan, California, Arizona, Ohio, and a few other states as well.
Jurat Signatures
The notary certificate for a jurat signature / oath has changed in many states. It is/was normal to have a venue, and then say, “Subscribed and sworn to before me (name of notary) by (name of signer) on (date).”  Then there would be a signature of the notary, and a place for the official notary seal.  Jurat verbiage also can differ from state to state so please look it up on google. 
Certificate forms.
Notary certificates can be notary wording / notary verbiage that is embedded on the last page of a document, or sometimes within a document if there are intermediary signatures.  If the notarial wording is NOT included, you must add a loose certificate and attach it to the document (by stapling). 
Filling out the forms.
Many notaries don’t understand how to fill out notary wording on certificate forms.  Let’s say a guy named Paul Solomon is the signer.  If the form says,
(note: this is not real Florida notary wording — I am making it up for educational purposes)
In real life, the Florida notary certificate is much simpler than this, but in other states there are cross outs that the notary needs to make. 
State of Florida
County of Brevard
On 8-11-2010 before me John Doe, notary public, the foregoing document was acknowledged before me by Paul Solomon, who acknowledges signing the document in his/her/their capacity(ies).
(notary seal)
In this example, it is the notary’s job to cross out the “her” and “their”, and the “ies” in capacities.  More than half of notarizations that I have seen were done by notaries who omitted to do the cross-outs.

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