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April 28, 2013

Best Practices: When it is legal to notarize a document twice?

Q. When is it legal to notarize twice?

A. Any time you get two journal entries for the document in question and attach two separate certificates.

How is this?

Many notaries fall into unfortunate circumstances. We live in a day and age when old fashioned common sense is not a part of life any more — at least not in the Title industry. A notary will be given an Acknowledgment form with wording that just isn’t acceptable. Perhaps the venue is for a different county or state. Perhaps there are two names on the Acknowledgment when there is only one signer — and a cross out will just look funny. Maybe something else will be wrong. Use your imagination here — you are notaries!

So, should you cross out Jim’s name on the Acknowledgment form since only Jane is there and Jim is on a business trip? Or should you attach an additional acknowledgment form and leave the original blank? The issue here is much more than what the law says. The law doesn’t address cross outs to my knowledge although it definately seems that it is not a “best practice” since it looks dubious and possibly fraudulent.

Do you really want your notarized documents to look tampered with? That is what notarizing a document with a cross-out looks like. Sure you do it all the time, but what if fraud really is involved and you get called into court just because you think it is fine and dandy to simply, “cross out and initial — I do it all the time”. Well, stop doing it all the time on notarized documents. It is a “worst practice”, not a best practice. Best practices include starting fresh with a clean acknowledgment and filling out properly with not only the state required wording, but also a document name, document date, document description, number of pages, etc. If you are smart, you will emboss every page on every document that you notarize whether the clients like it or not — for your protection. It makes page swapping after the fact very noticeable and detectable.

So, I recommend the fresh acknowledgment approach since it is clean and a best practice. But, on the other hand, what about notarizing the document twice and giving the lender a choice of the messy cross-out version, or the clean attached version. Some lenders HATE attachments (even though it is legal and kosher). Many lenders do not mind cross-outs even though it is abomidable to anyone with standards. So, if you give them a choice, at least they will have less cause to be unhappy. They will know that you went above and beyond for them.

However, you will be committing fraud if you send a loose acknownowledgment in the mail to the lender who doesn’t like your first attempt. Sure you already notarized it, but now there are two certificates floating around and not attached. The “best practice” here is to tell the lender you need the original back, you shred the certiifcate, add another certificate, and then send it back. Lenders don’t typically like best practices because it takes longer. Fraud is easier! But, don’t even think about it.

I will end this entry with a quote from a Yiddish folk story

Crime doesn’t pay, but oy, such good hours!

I will end this entry a second time, but this time with a line from a Mexican folk song about notarizations

Dos Acknowledmentos Un Documento?
Ay que paso en esta mundo?
Que voy aser con esta notario?
Llama el telefono a el Loan Officer por favor!

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