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September 27, 2016

The Nose Best Notary

OK, I’ll admit it – I cheated. Of course the title should use the word “knows”. But, there seems to be a problem in the notary community. A disproportionate percentage of notaries feel they are a “cut above” the rest of the field. Not a tiny cut, but by a wide margin – knowledge wise. Many of us seem to consider ourselves the best – not “one of the best” but “the ultimate notary”, why?

I’ll venture a guess. It’s that the vast majority work for themselves. They answer to no one. Thus, they do their own “self evaluations” and, surprise – bask with pride at their reflected image. Wake up; you have a lot to learn. The world, security wise, is changing rapidly. The old TIL and HUD have been usurped by a CD. Are you hoping I will define that – sorry – I will not – you are supposed to know what a CD is. OK, you aced it – but how aware are you of its components?

The problem is manifested in more than knowledge of esoteric loan package forms. It goes to the heart of being a responsible public official. The county sheriff would not be in office long if they could not recognize one of the 10 Most Wanted if they passed them on the street. Similarly, you need to keep up on changing components that affect your working environment. A good start would be to review the Current Edition of your governing regulations. Things have changed since you took your notary exam. You swore to uphold those rules, and must maintain your knowledge.

Take participation in the forum. Many are the posts that offer their own opinion – believing that theirs is the only right path. Few are the posts that acknowledge that someone with a superior understanding offered the right approach to the situation. It’s an interesting exercise to explore the web sites of those self proclaimed luminaries. I have done precisely that. What I found was gushing self praise and absurd proclamations. We can be at your location in 10 minutes. We know every doorman in the city. Our notarizations are much better than any other. Blah, blah, blah.

How do you throttle back your ego? One good method is to submit to standardized testing. This site offers a few varieties, as to some others. Of course there is your state notary manual, do you understand every word. Not each sentence by rote – but each concept by its essence. Did you ever call upon your licensing authority to explain a “fuzzy” concept? Or, did you just assume “I don’t need to know that. Here in NY State notaries must view “Adequate Proof”. The term is not further defined in the Notary manual. I spoke at length to them to derive their intended meaning.

Nobody is the knows best notary. Some think they are. The ones that come close are open minded and willing to learn. The foundation is, of course, your governing laws. But, it is in the application of those parameters that we exhibit our judgment; and our “wisdom”. For your business to be viable, you need to meet your clients’ needs and desires. Sometimes creative approaches, based entirely on what is completely proper are required. Given a complex situation there are those who will claim the request illegal; usually a safe choice. But, others with a greater breadth of knowledge can derive a totally legal and possible innovative solution. It is those whose clients feel that their notary “is the best notary”.

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June 24, 2016

The Steve Jobs Notary Smart-Seal

If Steve Jobs created a hi-tech Notary Seal, what would it be like?
I can imagine several scenarios. There could be a seal that looks like a regular Notary seal, but with a touch screen. The seal could tell you when your last ink fill up was and when the next time you will need to fill the ink would be. Or the seal could affix itself to make sure the seal’s impression was perfect every time. The real genious of Steve Jobs is that he made his inventions easy to use, cool, and personalized. His creations became an inseperable part of our lives. If only his spirit could guide some living people on creating that ideal Notary seal…

Additionally, the seal could have a smart feature that could sort through your emails and identify any emails pertaining to recent or current jobs, and even interface with your GPS to make sure that you get to your next job on time.

But, what about a more futuristic Notary Seal?
In my blog about UFO Notarizations, their notarizations were done with microchips that were inserted within the fibers of documents, or watermarks with identifying traits. I was picturing a business card shaped notary seal that could insert coding into the document using laser beams. But, also scan the name, date and other features of the document and keep an electronic record of the notarization. The device could be touch sensitive so that anyone who “borrowed” the seal from the Notary wouldn’t be able to use it. To use this futuristic seal, you would just lie it down in the seal area, press a button, and it would do it’s affixing itself.

Additionally, the Notary Seal could be used to scan ID’s and check them against records from the DMV, Dept of State, or even foreign governments. In the future, we might all be connected. Thumbprints could also be used with this tiny device. Best of all, if you lost your seal, you could call it with your cell phone and it would start beeping. With even better technology, the device would be able to identify signers purely based on their thumbprints or even have voice recognition.

Taking it a step forward, what if the Notary Seal device could have a Siri type character that would answer Notary questions.

NOTARY#1 “Siri, can I use a Military ID as identification?”

NOTARY #2 “Siri, if a California ID is expired, but it has not been five years since its issue date, can I still use it?

SIRI: Can’t you see I’m having lunch? Ask me later after I’m fully recharged… Humans!!!!


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March 29, 2016

Charge Nothing – Get More

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — Tags: , , , — admin @ 11:48 am

Charge Nothing – Get More
To clarify my title, charge no cash; receive payment in “goods”. I do that often, mostly with repeat clients. It’s often more convenient for my client to Barter, than to pay cash. Cash has to be accounted for, involving record keeping and receipts. Barter works only with a subset of clients. If the business is lawn mowing; no way; I don’t have a lawn. But many clients do have stuff that I would be happy to receive and it makes life simpler for them.

Case in point, last week I did a few notarizations at one of the best steak houses in New York City. They are a regular client. My payment for the notarization was a monster thick cut boneless “NY Strip” steak. They did not skimp on the side dishes. Included were a large portion of real mashed potatoes and creamed spinach. Truly yummy. The value of the “take out” was certainly greater than my routine mobile notary fee. It helped that my client was the manager of the establishment and needed some items notarized to file with the city, quickly. I was over in a flash, notarized while the feast was being prepared, and made sure to keep the calendar free for a few hours afterward.

Another example. I am at a sample garment preparation factory. They make the clothing used “one time” at fashion shows, and to present to buyers. The items change frequently. The “used” clothing, really worn once is often simply discarded in the trash. The models already have stuffed closets from prior events. I noticed a pile of nice looking clothing literally in the trash. I inquired about the items. “Oh, would you like some of that stuff?”, was the response. I picked out two stuffed shopping bags of blouses, skirts and jeans. Definitely several hundred dollars worth. When I left, I was astonished by the shop manager’s comment: “what’s left will cost me less to have carted away”.

Final example. At a movie theatre they need some fire safety compliance documents notarized, 7 of them. I notice in the lobby that soon there will be a few movies that I would like to see. I casually mention that I am planning on returning to see the shows. “Would you prefer half a dozen “premium” passes instead of your mobile notary fee”? Those passes include large popcorn and a soda! Sure, I enthusiastically respond! Result: three trips to the movies, for both of us; with popcorn and soda!

Barter is an ancient and honorable way of “doing business”. It’s simple and mutually beneficial. The trick to making it work is having two parties that each desire what the other has to trade. In the old west it was probably possible to trade a six gun for a horse. Few in New York City have a horse; and firearms transfers are now a bit more regulated. However, many are the commercial establishments, as opposed to residences, that notaries often visit. I have been in diamond setting factories that certainly would not trade for a humble notary fee. But, sometimes I am surprised. Once I was at a furrier, coats costing many thousands. I admired the quality. Quickly picking up on my interest; I was offered a “strip of Mink”; sort of a “shoulder wrap”, in lieu of cash! Deal!

Thus, it varies as to who initiates the barter. Sometimes they offer, other times they follow up on my compliment as to the quality of their goods. The routine notary for steak dinner, in my first example resulted in my comment “geee, that steak sure smells good”; now it’s routine. It’s a win win situation. The cost of goods for the establishment is “wholesale”, but the value to the notary is definitely “retail”. Of course the client needs to have the authority to barter. Take care to be sure you are not participating in shoplifting. A sales clerk at a department store probably does not have the right to swap some sweaters for having their loan package notarized!


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October 13, 2014

Notary Pricing Structures

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — Tags: , — admin @ 8:52 pm

You won’t find any suggested notary fee dollar amounts in this entry. Rather, what follows will be a (hopefully) intellectual discussion of alternative ways to charge for your services. Sometimes you will have to be flexible and choose a different pricing scheme; one other than your usual choice. I will try to cover the pros and cons of some alternatives that are probably widely used today.

The most basic is “by the piece”. That works great if you have a large client base that “goes to you”. Picture selling newspapers, many are sold with a small markup. Not so practical as a basis for charging for mobile notary services. Here in New York State, the mandated basic notary fee is two dollars. Any travel to do few notarizations would probably not pay for the gas used.

Our callers love “flat rate” pricing. They describe the work to be done, we name a “cast in stone” price to go and do the job. The issue here is that the caller rarely knows how many notarizations are required, must we supply forms, will there be other delays; waiting time, etc. Sometimes flat rate is the only choice; but be sure to get the details, even if they are not available in the initial contact. That too, is a double edged sword. They want “the number” the first time or might move on. Expect to spend a lot of time if all they tell you is that they have “some papers”.

A blend of flat rate and by the piece often works well. Set a fee for what they describe, ie: two people signing a POA. Include in your fee discussion that the quote is for only two signatures being notarized and that the appropriate state mandated fee will apply beyond the two. You will be surprised how quickly those additional fees add up. It’s also music to the caller, to hear a low starting “base fee” and a trivial addition for extras. Some take it a step further, they define the initial fee as for “going there”; and levy a by the piece for each notarization. I like to include a few in the quote.

Really big or lengthy jobs can be based on time and expenses. If a contract is being negotiated and you are asked to wait till the parties agree; go with time and expenses. Quote an hourly rate for waiting, plus your “going there” fee. The idea is to be “open ended”; the more they take of you the more they must pay. It’s fair to you; and seems to “speed up” the process; because it costs.

Loud, long, and often I have advocated payment in advance. Far too many feel that if for any reason you are unable to notarize “you didn’t do anything”. You should never go to an assignment without both sides having a very clear understanding of how your fee is calculated. If the bottom line can fluctuate, receive via PayPal, etc.; a retainer. That’s what my attorney does, shortly to be followed by a bill for more. The retainer ends “price shopping” while you are in route to the caller; and a possible call advising you that the job is cancelled.

There are as many ways to charge as there are different situations to charge for. I never go anywhere without fee agreement. I rarely go out of the immediate neighborhood without a retainer for my travel fee. On site any overage “but they’re just copies” is paid with cash. There is a real epidemic of people playing “beat the notary”. Some are coached to represent a full loan package as “it’s just one document”; despite the 187 pages requiring 28 notarizations!


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September 15, 2014

How much is a notary?

How much is a Notary?
If I had a buck for every time asked that question; I wouldn’t be writing this. Rather, I would be on the beach in Acapulco admiring the views. Unfortunately, silly questions are not combined with revenue. I often give the “plumber” example. If you called a plumber and said that you had a water leak, with water on the floor; and asked how much to fix the leak – he, as I, would require more information to give you a reasonable answer. There are many notary services that are available. Some are relatively simple and quick to perform. Others involve complex and time consuming procedures with lengthy travel.

The question seems to come from two distinct groups. The major group is the unknowing, who for the first time require notary services. They are often unaware that a mobile notary fee will be greater than when they go to the bank. Perhaps they are not unaware, choosing to ignore that you will be expending time and resources to go to them. They have a mental image of the notary processing whatever they have, for a very modest fee. After all, they are getting “just a notary”.

The other group is magicians, expert at sleight of hand. They have used mobile notaries often; and are well aware of the components that add to a notary fee. They define one document as all the pages of the same loan. When needing 3 notarizations, they fail to mention that the signers are in separate and often distant locations. Despite my best efforts at not being conned, yours truly is often sucker punched. I give my lowest base rate for a single notarization at a not too far address. They gave me the street address. Unspoken was that the address turned out to be the UN building with a very extensive security procedure, much more so for my large bag of notary supplies – almost an hour to get past the long line and inspection. Ouch. You get the picture.

The absolute best defense is to get the specifications via email, along with the location. On the phone they had “a document” but the email says “documents”; get clarification. I make it very clear when I confirm receipt of the PayPal payment that it is for the work previously agreed. Any additions, extra “copies” or extensive (over 15min) wait time will be billed separately in cash. A small increase is to be “absorbed”, being petty sours the client. What often works is a base fee for travel plus a per notarization fee. This works best when told there will be “many” documents to notarize. Fine, my fee for going to you is, and my per signature notarized fee is. Please PayPal me a retainer based on a dozen notarizations; that can be augmented with cash later.

Oh, and add to my order a henway. The usual response is: What’s a henway? About 2 pounds. I know it’s an old joke. But has an analogy to “How much is a Notary?”. There is a delicate balance between protecting yourself and “turning off” the prospective client. It’s a difficult, almost impossible situation when the admin assistant calls for their boss. My boss needs some documents notarized are you available? A question or two yields nothing, they were just asked to have a notary “show up”. There is danger here. Unless you have fee agreement prior to travel; you risk a wasted trip and a very angry client. Better to not book at the moment and ask for a follow up call with the necessary details.
Turn “How much is a Notary” into your image of being a competent professional, well equipped to meet their needs for a fair fee. When “pay up” time comes, neither side should be surprised.

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May 21, 2014

If you are a VIP Notary — read this!

Many notaries think it is fashionable to name their business something swanky like VIP Notary Service. But, in real life, there is one thing you need to keep in mind. Your clients might be the VIP’s, but you will not be treated like one. I have gone out on so many assignments for important people. It is a different ball game entirely. They have more to spend, but they cancel more and keep you waiting. You are just a servant to them.

In my experience, the most difficult notary clients are the cream of the crop and the people who meet you to notarize their boyfriend’s signature in a jail conference room. Regular middle-class folks are the easiest to deal with, but not necessarily the most profitable.

I did signings for Attorneys who were completely unprepared. Their secretary was the one who booked the appointment and the documents hadn’t even been drafted by the time I got there. The signer was 45 minutes late, and they had to talk for 30 more minutes before they were ready to see me. My advice is to get your waiting cash up front in cash so that you can leave if it gets too crazy. Attorneys might be rich, but they are the first ones to chump you out of your waiting fees.

Then there are the famous actors. If you go to their home, you deal with their personal assistant. Unfortunately, not someone named Giles with a distinguished British accent. You’ll get some American guy around 30 who couldn’t find a real job, but wants to work in Hollywood. You’ll wait in the garage or waiting or entrance hall for a long time while the assistant runs up and down the stairs to see if your actor client is ready. They value their convenience, but they don’t care about your convenience or your schedule one bit!

Then, there is notarizing on a set. You might wander around for half an hour looking for someone and asking around, and be kept another half hour until they are free. Important people always have dozens of people tugging on their shirt-tails.

So, if you want to do notarizations for the rich and famous, learn how to handle them. They are a different animal.

(1) If you run a VIP Notary Service, your clients might be important, but you will not be treated like a VIP
(2) The most difficult clients are the cream of the crop and girls who want you to notarize their jail-bird boyfriend’s signature.
(3) VIP’s value their convenience, but they don’t care about your convenience or your schedule one bit!

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February 6, 2014

Help! I am getting married, my husband is in Jail and I need a Notary!!

“I am getting married and my husband is locked up in jail. Please…(sobs heard on the phone) I need your help. I have money and you are in the business. Let’s talk.”

I got the above message on my phone literally word for word from a desperate woman at around 11:30 p.m. on a week night. Given the tone of the message, I sensed some urgency and decided to call her back the same night to give her some options.

The first thing out of her was, “Hurry Up and meet me at Men’s Central Jail now”. Somewhat taken aback by her unusual demand at that late hour, I asked her to explain the situation. She started sobbing and said that she needs to get married and her husband is at Men’s Central Jail, getting ready to be transported out of state to another facility. I paused and asked her how I could help her because I am not a lawyer, a priest or even a Notary authorized to perform weddings. She said that she needed a document notarized that would allow her to get married without her spouse being present. Wow!! Cool beans but what about conjugal visits was my next thought, which of course I kept to myself.

Having done a number of Jail house notarizations, I was aware of the type of documents that are generally permitted in different jails. When I asked her the type of document she needs notarized, she said that it was an “Inability to Appear” form. We arranged to meet in jail the next morning after she agreed to my fees.

Next morning, I made my calls to the Warden’s office to check if the inmate was at the facility and if I could notarize the particular form that my client wanted. Receiving the approval, I contacted the Client and told her to meet me at the Jail lobby at 10 a.m. and asked her to bring me the inmate’s state issued ID that was current and valid. She told me that she had to retrieve it from the property room and that should not be a problem. Immediately a red flag went up in my head and I asked her to call me when she got the inmate’s ID. I told her that I would make myself available until 2 p.m. that afternoon.

Long story short, she could not retrieve the inmate’s ID because she herself only had a copy of her ID and could not establish to the satisfaction of the guards her relationship with the inmate that authorized her to get his personal property. She called me frantically at 12:30 p.m. and said that she could not get the inmate’s ID but had 2 witnesses, one of whom did not have an ID.

Here is a valuable lesson for those who want to be jail house notaries or notaries who use credible witnesses. In California, the notary can use 2 credible witnesses to identify the signer if the notary does not know either witness or one credible witness who knows both the notary and the signer. My client out of desperation grabbed two people off the street and probably paid them something to act as witnesses. The problem was that these witnesses never even saw the inmate (signer) before and were doing it because they were offered some money. I immediately told my client the reasons these witnesses were not qualified to serve as credible witnesses. By now it was 2 p.m. and she now tells me that she needs to drive back to Irvine and bring 2 witnesses with proper Identification who actually know the inmate. I told her that I could only wait till 4 p.m. and after that time I could not help her. If you have read through everything so far, you probably guessed it. I got a call at 4:45 p.m. from my client who found 2 credible witnesses pleading with me to come to the jail. I politely but firmly said “NO” to which she replied, “I have money and I can call another Notary who will bite on it”. I said, Go ahead……

Look for my next blog on JAIL HOUSE NOTARIZATIONS which will be ready to be published as a blog on 123 notary and on my website, by the end of this month.

Muthiah Nachiappan

(1) Help, I’m getting married and my husband is in jail (sob) It was 11:30pm. She had cash and was desperate.
(2) Hurry up and meet me at Men’s central jail now.

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April 10, 2013

Grandma’s notary service & Paralysis notary service

Here are some more notary services that you probably wouldn’t want to hire!

Grandma’s notary service
No signing is complete without home made milk and cookies. And I have the experience to get the job done. I’ve been a notary for 60 years. I’ve been a notary since before many of you whippersnappers were even born! I know my community well, as I have been living here since 1924. My family has owned the house here since the early 1800’s you know!

Cleanup notary service
Half of our new jobs start out as repair work. A less experienced notary would originally be hired, they would screw up the paperwork, and I would be called after the fact to clean up the mess. And that is one reason we are called Cleanup notary service. You will know the other reason when you see the kind of obsene profits that we make!

Comfort notary service
We always make the borrowers feel comfortable. But, please make us comfortable too by paying us on time!

Roxanne’s Naughty or nice notary service
If you have been nice, you will get a present this Christmas. But, if you have been naughty, then call us!

Paralysis notary service
Specializing in hospital signings. We are very familiar with the Signature by X procedure with signing or subscribing witnesses. We use this procedure almost daily — or so it seems. We can also notarize the signatures of dead drunks. Call us for late night bar notarization services. We will notarize what is left of your signature and give you a ride home too!

ARM & LEG Notary
Specializing in Adjustable Rate Mortgages. Give us an ARM, and we will charge you and arm and a leg. How much of an arm and leg? An adjustable arm and an adjustable leg! Just call Armen Kachaturian or email us at armen@arm&

The Notary Nazi
When you call me, don’t tell me your life story — I don’t want to hear it. You must communicate with me exactly as follows:
(1) Tell me your name
(2) Tell me the name of the document you need notarized
(3) Tell me what type of notarization you required. Don’t ask me to make recommendations. I don’t give consultations — Notariations ONLY! — NO EXCEPTIONS!
(4) Tell me what time you need my service
Signings are $40 travel fee and $10 per signature — No Exceptions
Any failure to abide by my clearly laid out instructions will result in suspension of notary services.
No Notarizations For You — 2 months! You are banned from using my service!

I got in this business because Elaine from Seinfeld divulged my soup recipes to everyone. These soup recipes have been in my family for generations. How could she! So, after that I refused to make soup for anyone ever again. I used to be known as The Soup Nazi. Now, I am The Notary Nazi.

Want a notarization — follow the rules — or else NO NOTARIZATION FOR YOU.

Excon Notarizations
Have your notary work done by an ex-con! And my prices are rock bottom, so it will be very exconomical! But, don’t try to fool me, you can’t fool a con! I know all the tricks. I can spot a fake ID from a mile away too. Excon Notarizations — put a little shadiness into your signings!

Shelly’s Bad Notary Service
Why should you hire us if we are bad? We are not bad. We are the notary service you call if YOU have been bad. Shelly’s Bad Notary Service — so good… it’s bad!

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October 2, 2012

Top 5 books every notary should own (and read)

In any career, being the best means that you have to participate in professional development and be aware of new developments in your field. This is even truer for notaries who can face fines, suspended licenses, lawsuits, and other consequences if they make a mistake. Whether you’re new to the notary industry or a seasoned professional, make sure that you stay on top of your game with the books listed below.

The U.S. Notary Law Primer

Published in June, this book by the National Notary Association provides up-to-date information that every notary, or aspiring notary, needs to know. For those interested in becoming a notary, it lists the necessary qualifications and gives contact information for notary regulating officials. For those new to the profession, this book includes a variety of basic information including signer identification, notary journal maintenance, and misconduct penalties.

2012 – 2013 U.S. Notary Reference Manual

In the 11th edition of this manual, Charles N. Faerber has compiled the most current notary regulations from all 50 American states and six U.S. jurisdictions. Faerber, the National Notary Association’s Editor-at-Large and Vice President of Notary Affairs, makes sure to include detailed information for each state as well as the overarching laws that govern all notaries. This information is especially useful for national companies that use notarized documents and notaries who practice in multiple states.

How to Open & Operate a Financially Successful Notary Business

In this guide, Kristie Lorette and Mick Spillane not only review notary basics, but they also offer advice as to how to grow a notary business. This thorough book contains checklists, case studies, an appendix of state-specific information, and even comes with a companion CD-ROM of customizable professional forms. This how-to has invaluable information for notaries at any level in their careers.

101 Useful Notary Tips

Written and published by the National Notary Association, this handbook delivers the answers to frequently asked notary questions. Topics range from the basic (e.g., stamp expiration dates) to uncommon situations like notarizing a spouse’s document. Filled with practical advice, this book is a helpful reference for both new and experienced notaries.

Twelve Steps to a Flawless Notarization

As the title implies, the National Notary Association offers readers the twelve steps they should take each time they notarize a document. This book also includes helpful tips that notaries public should follow in order to guarantee that the notarization process is accurate as possible. The information provided will guide beginning notaries through their first notarizations and assure that practiced notaries don’t miss any steps.

These books are just a starting point in ensuring your success as a notary public. Since rules regulating notaries vary from state to state, always make sure that you are familiar with the exact laws within your jurisdiction and pay attention to any changes that may affect your notarizations. New developments in state-issued identification or the mortgage lending process affect how you do your job. Stay current by reviewing updated versions of your state notary handbook, talking with colleagues, and visiting industry websites such as this one.

Stephanie Marbukh is a freelance blogger who writes about a variety of topics including legal matters, education issues, and the importance of maintaining your home gutters.

(1) Being the best #notary means keeping up on industry trends & reading these top notary books!
(2) The top 5 books every notary should read include: 101 useful notary tips, 12 steps, law primers, etc…

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May 29, 2012

Are webcam notarizations legal in my state?

Are webcam notarizations legal in my state 

As of 2011 & 2012, webcam notarizations are not legal in any state.  The California Secretary of State even went so far as to make an official posting on their California notary division website to specifically state that it is illegal to do webcam notarizations in California and that there was a company who engaged in this illegal notarization practice.  This illegal notarization technique was used for signings in New Jersey by the company in question.  I have not heard if those individuals doign these webcam notarizations have been arrested or what.  We actually advertise them on our website, but post information stating that their webcam notarizations are illegal in California and other states.
As a customer for notary services, it is your responsibility to have some basic idea about notary law, and you need to know what is illegal in this business.  Any notary job that lacks personal appearance from the signer is an illegal notarization except for a proof of execution.
If you want to look up your state’s notary laws, each state has a notary division website where you can look up specific notary laws particular to your state. It might be hard to sort through and the legalese is not easy to read, but you can learn a lot in a short amount of time by reading through state notary division websites. 
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