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September 20, 2016

Their Signature

Their Signature

Let’s use, as a working definition of Their Signature; “somebody’s name written by him or her in a characteristic way”. Long ago, about a decade, I was often asked to provide “legible” signatures that matched the name signing. I tried that a few times, mostly with dismal failure. More often than not, the signature was totally illegible – more like artwork than written script handwriting.

Now let’s go back a lot further in the past, about two thousand years. Commercial transactions were common then as they are now. Most did not read or write, they made their mark. It was the seal of the Notary, who knew the affiant that validated the “mark”. Nothing has really changed. It is still the Notary who is supporting the validity of the signature.

They can sign many ways, with a pen, with a brush (artsy?), using their hands, feet, knees or mouth to hold the instrument of signing. Keep in mind the Americans with Disabilities Act. We must make reasonable accommodation to all who qualify for our seal. The signature does not have to be the same as, or even similar to the one on their ie: driver license. A lost limb or even both arms does not preclude notarization. Pen held in mouth is fine, the signature will be vastly different – but that really does not matter. Many elderly people have hands that shake, but their minds remain crystal clear.

Their “signature”, however written is the second aspect of accepting the Notary Oath. The first part is communicating a “yes” to the Oath; the signature is the written agreement. As mentioned – often the signature does not match the ID. Of course the picture must. There is one signature that (at least in NY State) must match – and that one is mine. My signature is recorded with the county clerk and for it to be authenticated; my signature on the document must be the same as my officially recorded one. Thus my signature cannot change.

To me what really counts is their printed name somewhere to indicate exactly who is being notarized. If it’s in my “loose ack” – I get to print the name. Sometimes it’s not that clear on the document, that is when I ask them to print their name under their signature. Notaries must take care to delimit their notarization to those actually given the oath and ID checked. When there are “other” places for signature, I often add “by affiant name” to the “sworn to and subscribed”.

Signatures vary greatly. I have seen perfectly formed cursive handwriting, squiggles and minor works of art with flourishes. Many bear no relation whatsoever to the name. Sometimes the same thing is on the ID, sometimes not. It’s my job to determine who they are, not to critique how they write their name. It would be so much more “absolute” if a DNA sample were to be added. Some think a thumbprint would be best; but not everyone has a thumb.

So, I am not a handwriting nanny. When the instructions mandate “clearly written” I tell the affiant what they “require” – and accept what they do. Usually I ask for their routine, standard signature “the way you would sign a check”. In my experience people object to being told “how to sign”. The signature, stamp and seal of the Notary makes whatever it is “Kosher”.

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September 18, 2016

He, She, or They?

He She or They

Jeremy and others have often mentioned the “requirement” (in quotes because the laws regarding this issue probably vary by state) to cross out the irrelevant sections in a notary section. They reason that the notary is responsible to redact entries that do not “match” the person being notarized. I disagree.

In the thousands of notary sections that have my signature and seal, over a decade of doing this; not a single one has had the redactions. Not one. And, I have never been “called to task” for not completing the section properly. There is no mention in New York State law requiring such action. The model for the Acknowledgement that I use has both “he she they” and “his her their”; and is taken directly from the handbook for NY notaries. My Jurat is even simpler: Sworn to and subscribed before me by _____.

Long before “gender identity” was a news topic I concluded that I was not the person to determine the gender of affiants. If I am not the one, who is? Well, the best answer is probably the affiant. However, some may consider a medical doctor more appropriate. It could also be a Judge. I do not see it as my function, in MY statement, to declare the gender of the affiant. Now the gender identity issue has become a hot topic in the media. To me it’s a personal issue, one for the affiant to declare or not declare as they see fit. Whatever gender identity THEY say, outside of the notary section; is fine with me.

My sharp eyed critics, and they are legion; will have noticed I included “they and their” as items that I do not redact. They are thinking “surely you should delimit the notary section to one individual when multiple names are not being notarized”. Perhaps, but I offer two defenses to leaving it as is. First, the sole name, when there is only one affiant signing, is clearly entered in the notarization. Secondly, and admittedly this is a bit of a “reach” – the affiant might identify as being of dual identity. One ID, but they consider themselves two persons. Possibly one gender sometimes, different other times. Technically it’s proper for me to enter two names in the notary section when only one person is before me and taking the oath. This comes directly from the NY County Clerk office. If the affiant has two passports with a different name on each document – they have “proved” both names and “they” have the option of having each name entered on the notary section.

With the rampant rise of identity theft and similar crimes; the role of the notary has become more, not less, important in commerce. More important yes, but not of greater scope in our basic function. Many are the “notary signature only” documents I have seen included with the packages. Fortunately for me it is illegal in NY as a notary; to make statements of fact. The most common being for me to state that I have determined the identity of the affiant(s) to an absolute certainty. The State standard is to view “adequate proof” – not absolute proof. These statements by the notary will only admit you to the litigation chain if, in fact, you were conned by a good looking forgery of the ID.

But, let’s get back to the gender issue. A person is a person, nobody will refute that. We notarize people, they come in a wide variety – and it’s our job to accommodate all of them; within the bounds of our respective state codes. I leave my notarizations “open” to be all inclusive. It’s for others to decide issues of gender. It’s so easy to make false assumptions. I have asked the Sister of the affiant to sign on the Spouse line. Ouch, that was awkward for a moment. Clearly including the name, as taken from the ID is what works for me. Of course care should be taken to not provide an “open ended” notarization to which some additional name(s) can be added at a later date. As the County Clerk told me: “You notarize the name as on the ID, nothing else”. Thus, I make no determination as to he, she, or they, and leave the form alone.

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September 10, 2016

The Big Con

The Big Con

First, the “sense of urgency”.
Are you available right now, I mean immediately? I have a situation that demands instant resolution. My documents must be notarized and faxed within the hour. The attorneys are, as we speak, waiting for the notarized documents. Very big money is at stake and I will pay for you to cancel any conflicting other jobs. I cannot go into great detail, time is of the essence. How long will it take you to get to my location, only three notary stamps are required. You can also triple your routine fee. You must agree, the situation is extremely urgent and demands your instantaneous response, at any cost.

Second, a smokescreen about details.
I ask the usual what, where and when, what ID he has; and does his ID match the name on the documents. We can go over all of that when you arrive. I need you to depart now to meet me at the FedEx (location given). Instinctively I perceive a nightmare not a dream assignment. I’m not going anywhere until I have more details. I press on for the details. Mixed in with exhortations about instant departure, some details are reluctantly provided. The job is for a deed and related documents. He only mentions that he has “positive ID”, and the notarized documents were drawn by his attorney and has his name.

Third, an odd New York Requirement
My caller mentions arriving in New York solely for getting the documents notarized. Arrival from Boston was only an hour ago. I am told a story that the document can only be notarized in New York City. Now my BS sensor is full scale. Unless I can be convinced that assertion is truthful, I have been told a lie. So, I ask why only in New York City. I am told it is a requirement of the seller of the Boston property. This makes no sense whatsoever. Still intrigued by the caller’s BS, I ask specifically what ID will be shown.

Finally, the big Con is Exposed
I know you are not going to be comfortable with this but the only ID I have with me is a photocopy of my passport! Just a second, I also have my credit card. I ask: am I to understand that you just flew in from Boston, passed airport security with a photocopy of a passport and credit card? Yes, I showed them the documents, and “due to the amounts involved” they accepted my passport copy at Boston airport. My credit card paid for the flight and that was enough for them. They were more sympathetic than you seem to be about my forgetting to bring my wallet with me when I went to the airport.

Well, I now fully understand the situation. It is totally unacceptable to notarize without the original government issued photo ID. Now for some hostility, though still speaking politely. What kind of a notary are you to refuse an urgent request? Not wanting to inflame my caller, I again stress that notaries are subject to regulations; the same as police and taxi drivers – “It would be illegal for me to proceed”.

That ended my involvement with what I perceived to be a Con. Two of the most “powerful” documents that we routinely handle are POAs and Deeds. But, I submit even the most humble of notarized items require full application of all requirements. A “low level” document is a letter of recommendation for the babysitter. Really? I think not. How would you feel being drawn into a situation where your notary work assisted a “monster” obtaining access to a child; and doing something improper? Terrible, of course. Thus, it follows that each time you sign and stamp there is a risk, but that risk can be managed. Wiser heads than mine have established regulations and guidelines for us to adhere to, without exception. It’s never trivial, each notary act is serious, has potential consequences; and must follow the law, to the letter.

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July 13, 2016

Are you a Yes-tary or No-tary?

It was a month or so ago. I was asking Notaries Notary questions about what you can and cannot do. Unfortunately, Notaries often don’t take Notary rules seriously or have just never been adequately trained. The “more, but not less rule” is no good unless you understand which direction the rule runs. The ID can have more than the document, but 40% of Notaries think that it is okay if the name to be notarized on the document has more meat on it than the name on the identification. Good God! My point here, is that the whole point of having a Notary is to verify people’s identity who signed documents. The Notary profession helps to deter and prevent fraud as a result. But, if Notaries do whatever, and don’t follow state rules, then the purpose of having a Notary is defeated or undermined.

To put it shortly, the entire point of a Notary is to say No. If you feel uncomfortable or awkward saying No, then you should not become a Notary. In many Middle-Eastern and Asian cultures it is considered bad manners to say no, so they say, maybe, or later, or perhaps next time, or make up some excuse for not saying yes. Since they can’t outright say no, they beat around the bush. But, as a Notary, you might be facilitating fraud by not saying no. So, get used to saying no. Stand in front of the mirror and say, “No…. NO…. NO!!!!” Do it the way Joey from Friends practices saying, “How you doin’?” in front of the mirror dozens of times mastering his facial expression and verbal inflections. Take pride in saying no. However, for those Notaries that don’t like saying no, worry not! There is a solution. Become a Yes-tary.

But, what do Yes-taries do? Yestaries say yes to illegal requests. Unfortunately they cannot be commissioned and don’t have a stamp. But, maybe they should have an unofficial Yestary Public stamp just to make their job more comedically offiicial. What would be the duties of a Yestary? If someone wants to be Notarized as Mickey Mouse but lacks sufficient ID, you say, YES. If someone claims to be Kim Jong Un and looks Korean enough to you, say yes and stamp his document. If a Taiwanese client wants you to stamp a loose piece of paper because their government requires such a Yestary act, you can do it as a Yestary, but not as a Notary. Because a Notary’s job is to say No!

But, what if they won’t pay your travel fee if you say no? It is actually illegal in many states for a Notary to notarize a document in which they have a beneficial or financial interest. I feel that if the Notary will not get paid a travel fee if they refuse to notarize, then they now do have a beneficial interest of a sort and would be willing to break the law so they would get paid. Get your travel fee up front before you see the signers or the documents or the identifications. That way if a signer isn’t there, or if the name on the ID is not matching, or some other problem, you can forfeit your Notary fee, but still get paid for your trip. Remember, your job is not to please the client, but to uphold the law even if that means hurting someone’s feelings by saying no. Hurting someone’s feelings is better than going to court as a result of facilitating fraud or having your commission revoked!

One last note, it has been reported that some Yestaries have gotten a rare intestinal disease from saying yes too much to illegal requests. Some call it an illness, I call it karmic retrobution. The disease is called “yesentery” and comes from ingesting unclean Notary requests. If you get this disease, just consult your doctor and take some prescribed antibiotics. Good luck!


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June 8, 2016

The right to refuse notarization

I just talked to a client who said that she needed to be notarized. The guy at the mail boxes place required a thumbprint for a California notarization that was not for a Deed or POA. The law doesn’t require a thumbprint unless it is for a Deed or Power of Attorney. So, the client of mine (also a Notary, but not “the” Notary in question here) refused, and was denied Notarization.

I checked the 2016 California State Notary Handbook to verify whether or not the Notary has the right to decline if they are not comfortable with the situation regarding a notarization. For example, if the signer seems suspicious, may the Notary refuse to notarize? If the signer refuses to be thumbprinted, and the Notary refuse?

The handbook doesn’t say if the notary may refuse under special circumstances, but states that it is illegal for a Notary to deny services. Hmmm.

If the document contains blanks, or if the Notary cannot communicate with the signer, those are grounds for refusal to notarize. If the signer cannot be positively identified, that is also grounds. If there is a financial or beneficial interest for the Notary to notarize a document, yet another legitimate reason not to notarize.

But, back in the days when I was a Notary, I remember reading that a Notary could refuse to notarize if they had a funny feeling about the notarization. Is that just an antiquated guideline, or was it something published by a source that was not reputable or official? Hmmm.

What does your state say about the Notary’s right to refuse notarization?


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May 6, 2016

Alice in Notary Wonderland

Once upon a time there was a little girl named Alice C Butterfield. Little Alice loved to wander around her rich Aunt’s palacial estate. But, she had a habit of sticking her nose where it didn’t belong. Alice would always criticize people for doing the wrong thing. Her aunt didn’t signal a turn once. Alice could not keep her mouth shut and pointed it out. Her uncle Fred inflated a deduction on his taxes which Alice pointed out. How could a nine year old girl know so much about taxes. I guess curiousity knows no bounds.

Alice was sitting near the river with her sister reading a dull book with no pictures. Then, she noticed a rabbit wearing a top coat. She follows the rabbit down a hole, and then falls a very long way down. When she hits bottom she is in a room with many locked doors. But, there is a small bottle on the table with a small note saying, “drink me.” She drinks the contents of the bottle and then shrinks to a very small size.

Then, she saw a small document sitting on the table that she didn’t notice before that says, “notarize me.” Next to the document, there was a small stamp as well. Since Alice was a bookworm, she was well acquainted with the responsibilities of a Notary Public. She knew that a signer would have to appear before her that would produce identification. But, around there, the signer might be an animal wearing human clothing. So, Alice waited and waited, hoping for her signer to come by. After what seemed like a very long time there was a knock on the door. But, which door. There were dozens of doors, each one a different size. There were doors on the ceiling, doors on the floors, walls, and everywhere you looked. There were even doors within doors within doors. Then she heard a voice. “Over here!”

Alice opened a little door and a little mouse with a walking stick appeared. “I’ve been trying to get notarized for years, but can never find a Notary my size. Then, I heard that someone shrunk you and that you could do the job. Can you Notarize me?” Alice replied, “But, I’m not commissioned in the United Kingdom.” Then the mouse explained that in their jurisdiction, any human could execute Notary functions providing they checked ID. So, Alice checked the mouse’s ID and it read, Edgar J Mouse. Alice Notarized him. Then Alice asked, “How will you pay me for my services?” The mouse replied, “Here, I brought you some cheese I stole from a mousetrap.”

Alice ate the cheese. And then she started growing and growing and growing until her head hit the ceiling. “Curiouser and curiouser”, exclaimed Alice. Then, Alice swam down a river of her own tears. She was so sad that she shrank and then grew and didn’t know where she was. So, she swam until she found that little mouse giving a lecture on William the Conqueror.

Alice met a caterpillar who said, “Explain yourself.” Alice said that she couldn’t explain herself because she wasn’t herself. Then the caterpillar said, “Well, what self does your ID say you are? Alice replied, “Alice Butterfield, but I’m really Alice C Butterfield.” Then the caterpillar said, “If you were really Alice C Butterfield, then your ID would reflect that name. It’s time to make a visit to the DMV not isn’t it?”

Alice wandered on until she saw a Cheshire cat that directed her to March Hare’s house. Alice continued on her aimless journey until she became the guest at a mad tea party along with the Hare.

MARCH HARE: Notarize this signature

ALICE: But, this is a blank document with you signature. It wasn’t very civil of you to ask me to notarize something that doesn’t even exist!

MARCH HARE: Well, it wasn’t very civil of you to invite yourself to our tea party at our table.

ALICE: I didn’t know it was your table.

MARCH HARE: Do you say what you mean?

ALICE: Well, I mean what I say.

MARCH HARE: Well then notarize my signature for today’s date. Does your watch have the date?

ALICE: Well no.

MARCH HARE: How about the year?

ALICE: Well the year doesn’t change too quickly so it doesn’t need to tell the year.

MARCH HARE: I think the year just changed. There it goes again. Notarize me for 1899.

ALICE: Why 1899?

MARCH HARE: Why not? Every year is the same around here. Why should it make a difference. That’s why we don’t hurry. Time doesn’t matter.

ALICE: But, time does matter. You have to beat time.

MARCH HARE: Time might not take to kindly if you beat it, but hurry up before it turns 1901. I want to be notarized this century.

ALICE: How can the year change multiple times within the time-frame of one afternoon?

Then Alice found a tree with a door in it. She went through the door and into a long hall. She ended up at a palace run by a very angry queen.

QUEEN: Who are you?

ALICE: I am Alice.

QUEEN: What I mean is what does it say on your commission?

ALICE: Alice C Butterfield, but my ID only says Alice Butterfield.

QUEEN: Nonsense! And when is our commission expiration date?

ALICE: 1897, but now it is 1901.

QUEEN: Actually it was 1901 a few hours ago, now it is 1905. It will continue being 1905 until sunset and then tomorrow morning it will be 1896 which will give you a few days to complete any necessary notarizations.

ALICE: But, I thought time always moved forwards.

QUEEN: Why should it. Do you always move forwards?

ALICE: Hmm, I never thought about it like that.

QUEEN: Well I don’t like your middle name. Off with your middle initial.

KING: But, she is just a child.

QUEEN: I hate C’s. They are so mediocre. And off with their heads — of the gardeners. They fowled up my rose bush. It took years to grow it and then it shrank. Hmm. Perhaps because time moved backwards. Here is my signature. Study it intently, and then notarize it.

CAT: So, how do you like the queen’s signature

ALICE: Well actually, not at all. It’s extremely (noticing that the queen was right behind her) — likely to win.

EXECUTIONER: I can’t cut off a head unless it has a body attached to it.

ALICE: And what if you cut off the wrong head? Shouldn’t you check the ID?

QUEEN: The ID of the head or the ID of the body?

CAT: Is there more than one? (grinning)

ALICE: And what if the ID expired, after all it must be 1910 by now and the DMV has ID’s expire after only four years in England these days.

QUEEN: Yes, but if the ID shows a physical likeness, then it should be okay.

ALICE: To make sure the ID isn’t fake, you could ask them what their date of birth is and then confirm the date with teh ID.

QUEEN: You are a crafty one aren’t you.

ALICE: Besides, beheading someone is so extreme. Why not just cut off part of their name, initial, or a Jr. or Sr. at the end of their name. That will teach them a lesson.

QUEEN: Yes, I rather like that. John W. Smith will have to live the rest of his life being John Smith. I like this. That is much more fun than beheading someone. Off with their initials!

ALICE: But, you shouldn’t remove an initial without a porpoise.

QUEEN: Well we shall have that decided in court.

(in court)

RABBIT: I submit my evidence that the gardner did not submit evidence that he ruined the rose bushes. Someone wrote a statement about the rose bushes, but it wasn’t signed.

ALICE: Yes, if it wasn’t signed, then how will we know who wrote it.

QUEEN: Well, as long as my roses are ruined, what difference does it make?

CHESHIRE CAT: Perhaps we should do a handwriting analysis.

KNAVE: We could go back into time and have him sign it. Time is supposed to roll back tonight.

ALICE: But, there’s no meaning in this.

KING: So, if there is no meaning, then why look for a meaning?

(later that night)

ALICE: If you sign this document, they will know you ruined the rose bushes

GARDENER: Yes, but now that time has rolled back, I can change my statement and then sign it.

ALICE: That is a good idea. And it will be 1897 after midnight, so my commission will be in effect then.

GARDENER: Here is my statement and my signature. Please notarize it.

ALICE: Gladly. But, the stamp I am using is one I used when I was two inches tall.

GARDENER: That’s no problem. I’ll just make my signature extra small to match. Here.

ALICE: I’ll deliver this to the queen in the morning.

QUEEN: Yes, the statement is excellent. He did not ruin my roses, or so he claims. But, that poses a new problem. Who shall I behead?

SISTER: Wake up Alice

ALICE: Oh, I have had such a curious dream. There was this mad queen who went around beheading people and a cat, and a lizard, plus a March Hare. But, none of it was real.

SISTER: What is that in your pocket? It seems to be leaking a black fluid…

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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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August 21, 2015

Big Bang Theory: Notarizing a discovery about string theory

Filed under: Sit-Coms — Tags: , — admin @ 11:06 am

RAJ: We have to get our latest discovery notarized.

SHELDON: How can you notarize a discovery?

LEONARD: Well, perhaps we should patent it at least. To be on the safe side.

RAJ: Yeah, there are people out there who steal inventions all the time.

SHELDON: Our’s hasn’t even been thoroughly tested. And it is so complicated that even we don’t understand it. So, how is a patent thief supposed to understand it?

RAJ: I was so paranoid I didn’t think that part over. But, our “lost electron syndrome” discovery is so critical, maybe to be safe.

PENNY: Oh, I’m sure your electron will show up somewhere. They always do.

SHELDON: Penny, I don’t know if you realize how important our discovery is. We’ve been reading for decades about how Newtonian Physics has been questioned, and how matter can really be created and destroyed. However, very few physicists have actually seen actual matter disappear, especially under the circumstances that we did. We added emotion to our physics experiment. We played happy music and started dancing around the room all joyfully. And an electron disappeared. I counted them — I know.

PENNY: You counted electrons? I should try that!

RAJ: Yeah, I think she should. It’s a good idea. I do that sometimes when I’m bored, or want to practice my powers of observation. I’m calling the Notary… (ring ring)

NOTARY: Arnie’s Notary, Arnie speaking, may I help you?

RAJ: Hello Arnie. You see, we have this discovery we need notarized. How do we exactly get this done?

NOTARY: You need a statement and an ID. The statement is up to you. It must be written up, and include the name of the signer in it if you require an Acknowledged signature. Or you can do a sworn Oath with a Jurat statement. It’s up to you.

RAJ: Either way. I’ll type one up now.

(10 minutes later)

RAJ: Hello Mr. Arnie. Yes, I typed up the document about the discovery. I would like us all to sign it, so I included all of our three names in the text of the document and also in the signature area. And, yes, we all have ID’s, although we seem to be missing an electron.

NOTARY: Oh, no wonder. The funniest thing happened to me yesterday. After a busy day of notarizing, I was watching TV, and you’d never believe what happened?

RAJ: So tell me?

NOTARY: An electron just showed up out of nowhere.

RAJ: Nowhere? An electron. Hold on. Let me get Sheldon. He says he was watching TV and an electron appeared out of nowhere.

SHELDON: Well, do you think it was our electron?

RAJ: How can you tell one electron from another?

NOTARY: Well, I asked the electron for identication just like I do with everyone else. But, it just whizzed around. To me they all look the same.

LEON: Fascinating. That might be our electron.

RAJ: Maybe we should put up a flyer in the halls saying, “Lost electron. Reward if found.”

NOTARY: Before you do that, I’ll be down at your lab to notarize your statement. $30 travel fee and $10 per signature. Cash only! Pay the travel fee up front just in case your ID’s are missing just like your marble.. I mean your electrons.

SHELDON: Oh, one more thing. We’ll have to put you in a bio-hazard suit before entering the lab.

NOTARY: My fee schedule specifically mentions that I charge $5 extra for each time I put on a bio-hazard outfit, but removal is at no cost as a courtesy to the client.


PENNY: Oh, this is so exciting. Can I put on a bio-hazard suit too?

LEON: I don’t think they come in matching colors.

PENNY: Then never mind.


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August 11, 2015

The Pile of Poo Divorce

The lady calls with a common request. She has some divorce documents that need to be notarized. I ask the usual screening questions. Who is signing? What ID do they have? How many signatures need to be notarized? Mobile notaries with a few years of experience become quite good at sensing trouble ahead. This assignment felt wrong. The lady was evasive with my initial questioning, changing her answers several times. It was a judgment call for me to make as to granting her an appointment. Her plea as to the urgency “it has to be submitted to the court tomorrow morning”; caused me to agree to meet with her. But, with a large amount of “doubt”, my meeting would be a location near to me. She agreed, we would meet in an hour.

She had spoken of needing two signatures notarized. Somehow, that became eight signatures. Four for her and four for the other party to the divorce. It’s a common misunderstanding, the number to be notarized vs the number of people being notarized. However, having been in this situation many times I was sure that she understood when we spoke on the phone. Going from two to eight is not the end of the world. And, she had readily agreed to meet at a place of my convenience. So, I asked to see what needed the eight notarizations. Unlike many of my meetings, this was to be cash, due to little travel being required. First thing, even prior to showing me a single document she wanted to pay. That really caused my “trouble ahead” bells to ring. Declining the offered cash, I requested, again, to see the documents.

As she pulled out the papers I noticed large amounts of “white out” on the papers; all of them. Signatures had been changed, dates changed, even the Venue entries. There were so many layers of the stuff I thought the papers would crack if folded, even slightly. I looked at the signatures on the “sworn to and subscribed” sections. Her signature, inexplicably, varied from document to document, only one signature was similar to the signature on her passport. The signature of the male was consistent with the “photocopy” of his ID, and that was to also be notarized!

I don’t know if it’s legal to notarize documents with gobs of “white out”. I do know how to properly redact an improper entry. But, IMHO, these docs were dead. She stressed that all of the entries had to be notarized, and there was no access to her husband. She related that I could proceed to notarize her husband’s signature by matching it to the photocopy of his passport. Clearly, this was going nowhere. It was time to halt the proceedings and inform her of what the proper notary procedures entailed. She could care less, after my explanations. She kept repeating that I was “creating a problem for her” and that it had to be completed now.

I understand that you have a problem. However, I too have a problem. My problem is that your documents have signatures without the affiant present to verify and oath. Finally, she did understand I was unwilling to proceed. Then another shocker! “I have been told there is a nearby that will just stamp these documents for a fee”, “do you know where they are?” Lady, the notarization of your husband’s signature without his presence is illegal. You are asking me to assist you in finding someone who is willing to commit a crime. First, I know of no such person or place. Second, I strongly advise you to abandon this course of action. It’s also illegal to ask someone else to commit a crime. You now know that notarizing your husband’s signature without his presence is illegal. You should proceed only using legal methods.


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June 11, 2015

She learned more just by dating a Notary

Filed under: General Stories — Tags: , , — admin @ 11:40 pm

At the interview:

BOSS: So, have you ever notarized something before?

ANN: Well, actually I haven’t

BOSS: But, you talk about the profession as if you have been in it for years.

ANN: Well, actually I sort of have. You see, my boyfriend is a Notary, and we do everything together.

BOSS: Everything?

ANN: Last week, he took me to a Notary job for an elderly woman who couldn’t sign her name. I explained how they could do a Signature by X procedure using two subscribing witnesses. They asked which one of us was the Notary. I said, he is, but I am always around, so I learn by osmosis. I explained how the subscribing witnesses would have to both sign in the journal, have their printed names & phone #’s documented in the journal, and also sign and print their names in the signature section of the document. It is a slightly involved procedure, so proper record keeping is critical.

BOSS: Wow, I’m impressed. I’ve never done a Signature by X.

ANN: Well, you’re not missing much. There’s also Signature by G.

BOSS: Signature by G? I’ve never heard of that before.

ANN: I did one of those in the ‘hood for a notorious gangster who signed his name as “G.”

BOSS: Oh, sounds like you have an interesting life.

ANN: Yes, well, he offered to pay us in illegal contraband, but we politely declined. It’s bad enough being guilty by association.

BOSS: Right. Have you ever signed a loan with spousal documents?

ANN: Actually, I was the one who had to confirm the appointment. The wife was only on five documents, but the signing company omitted to inform us that she needed to be at the signing. Of course, I was a step ahead of the game since I had inspected all of the documents one by one to make sure of who the various signers would be. Sometimes they sneak in a Quit Claim or Grant Deed that has multiple signers.

BOSS: I’m very impressed. So you are thorough, think ahead, and know your stuff.

ANN: Well, I don’t like to brag, but yes.

BOSS: So, are you also, “certified?”

ANN: Well, there are those notaries who are merely “certified” by an unknown entity and then there are those who are 123notary certified. I am the latter.

BOSS; Oh, good. I’ve heard of 123notary. They have some top notch notaries over there. Notary Cafe is not bad either although they have a lot fewer notaries than 123notary.

ANN: This is true. The Notaries on 123notary also often have better notes sections than the competition because Jeremy is always nagging them about that — and he will actually help a notary rewrite their notes section for free.

BOSS: Sounds like a nice guy.

ANN: Well, he is more demanding than nice — but, demanding in a nice way — providing you do what he asks.

BOSS: Oh, sounds like me!

ANN: Sounds like all bosses. I can start tomorrow.

BOSS: Tomorrow won’t work. I was asked to go to an art class. The teacher asked me to paint a man with a mustache, but I don’t have a mustache, so I’ll have to use a brush.

ANN: I see we both watch the Burns & Allen show.

BOSS: You even catch my references!


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