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June 21, 2015

Seven Error Free Ways To Identify a Signer

When it comes to correctly certifying to the identifying signers, Notaries typically resort to one of two methods. First is the standard state issued identification (valid Driver License or State ID) that is current and the second is where the more experienced notaries resort to using credible witnesses when the signer does not have proper identification. On rare occasions, notaries who are confident in their work will use a subscribing witness to identify a signer who cannot physically appear in front of a notary to sign documents.

SEVEN (7) FORMS OF IDENTIFICATION A CALIFORNIA NOTARY CAN LEGALLY ACCEPT:
1. State issued ID or Driver License from any of the 50 states in the United States.
2. Valid International Driver License from Canada or Mexico only.
3. Valid U.S. Passports issued by the Department of State. Valid Foreign Passports stamped by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Services.
4. Using two credible witnesses to identify the signer. Used when the notary does not know the witnesses and the witnesses does not have a beneficial interest in the transaction. The witnesses vouch for the identity of the signer when the signer does not have proper Identification.
5. Using one credible witness to identify the signer when the notary knows the witness and the witness can vouch for the identity of the signer.
6. Using a Subscribing Witness when the signer cannot appear in person to sign in front of the notary. Because of the susceptibility of fraud, a subscribing witness cannot be used for Real Estate transactions.
7. Valid Military ID that contains the name & picture of the signer, signature of the signer, serial or ID number as well as the issue date and/or expiration date.
Note: The only time a Notary can accept an expired ID or passport is if it was issued within the last 5 years.

SEVEN (7) FROMS OF IDENTIFICATION CALIFORNIA NOTARIES CANNOT LEGALLY ACCEPT:

1. Alien Registration Card (Green Card) for non-immigration documents (§ 8230. Identification of affiant; verification). This can get tricky because the Green card issued by the Federal Government contains everything required in the military ID, but still is not approved by the Secretary of State.
2. Employment Authorization Card/Work Permits
3. Matricular Consular ID issued by the Mexican Consulate or many Central American countries.
4. International Driver License from any country other than Mexico and Canada.
5. Voter Registration or Election Card with picture and other biographical details from any country.
6. Birth Certificate with Social Security card
7. Department of Homeland Security Notice issued as temporary identification that has all the required elements in a military ID.

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April 20, 2013

Types of witnesses in the notary profession

Types of Witnesses in the Notary Profession

All the names of witnesses in the notary profession can be confusing if you don’t know your terminology. I am going to write a brief tutorial of various types of witnesses.

Witness
Anyone who witnesses a signature can be a witness. In general you should be 18 years of age or older to serve as a witness. A witness could engage in the act of witnessing a signature.

Credible Witness
Most states allow the use of Credible Witnesses to identify a signer. Some states will allow two Credible Witnesses who know the signer, but do NOT know the notary. Some states will allow one Credible Witness who knows the signer as well as the notary. Some states will allow one or two Credible Witnesses. Consult your state’s notary handbook for details.

Credible Identifying Witness
A more legal or technical term for a Credible Witness

Executing Witness
Also known as a Subscribing Witness that would be used in a Proof of Execution signing. Don’t make a mistake on this type of notarization or the joke is that you will be executed!

Subscribing Witness
A witness who watches someone else sign their name. The word “sign” can sometimes be synonomous with the word “subscribe”.

Subscribing Witness for a Signature by X signing
A Subscribing Witness is also the term for someone who watches and assists in a Signature by Mark or Signature by X signing.

Witness to a Jurat Signature
Notaries are required by law to witness signatures that correspond to Jurat notarizations. Signatures that are to be acknowledged on the other hand, do NOT need to be witnessed, and can be signed before (even years before) the signature is acknolwedged.

Witness to a Will
Being a witness to a Will is similar to any other type of witnessing, except for the fact that the witness might need to (or probably should) document the fact that they witnessed a will signing on the signature page of the Will. Wills are by definition, orten much more serious than any other type of document.

They are often more important even than Power of Attorney documents or Grant Deeds. Another reason why witnessing signatures on Wills is so critical is because the signer will probably be dead if and when the document is disputed. It is too late to drag someone into court to testify if they are deceased!

You might also like:

Can a notary witness a Will or notarize one?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=1525

Credible Witnesses from A to Z
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=452

Identification requirements for being notarized
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=4299

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April 20, 2012

California Credible Witness Requirements

California credible witness requirements 

If you are a California notary public, and you are at a signing where the signer doesn’t have a current government issued photo identification document, (or EXPIRED is okay if issued within the last five years) you will not be authorized to notarize the signature of that signer without the use of credible witness(es).
 
When can a California notary use credible witnesses?
If the signer has no identification, or if it is going to be very difficult to obtain (perhaps it got misplaced and is very far away), then you can use one or two credible witnesses depending on whether or not you know the witnesses.
 
When can I use only 1 Credible Witness?
If the Notary in California knows the credible witness relatively well, and the credible witness knows the signer’s full name (without you having to tell them the complete name), then you can use just 1 Credible Witness
 
When can I use 2 Credible Witnesses?
If the California Notary Public doesn’t know the Credible Witness, then you need to depend on the Oath of 2 Credible Witnesses who know the signer’s full name.
 
Identifying the Credible Witness
You need to check the identification cards or documents of the Credible Witnesses. If they don’t have any, then you can not use them.  They need to have current, (or EXPIRED if issued within the last five years) government issued photo identification with a physical description, signature, serial number, and expiration date.
 
Oath of Credible Witnesses in California
The California notary needs to have the Credible Witnesses (one by one) swear under oath that they will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  Then, ask them what the name of the signer is who you are pointing to.  If the answer is, “Joe”, then make sure to ask if “Joe” has a middle or last name that they are aware of. If they can’t answer this question, then perhaps they are not the ideal witness for you!
 
Documenting the Signature of the Credible Witness in your journal.
It is required by law to document the signature of the Credible Witness or Witnesses in your journal.  Have them sign in the notes section, NOT the signature section.  Have the document signer sign in the signature section.  It is optional but recommended that you also document the printed name, address, phone number, and identification information about the Credible Witnesses in your journal.
 
If the idenfication is expired – what is the issue date?
On California drivers licenses, there is an issue date documented at the BOTTOM of the card.  This date is not labeled as an issue date, but it is clearly several years before the expiration date, and you can logically deduce that that was the issue date.
 
Get a thumbprint? It is a stronger proof of identity than anything else!
If you are identifying a signer in California based on the oaths of credible witnesses, I would strongly recommend getting a thumbprint of the signer in your journal.  Although only required by law for Deeds and Powers of Attorney notarizations, the thumbprint is a much stronger proof of the identity of the signer than the Oaths of a few people who hardly know the signer.  Please keep in mind that in rural Tennessee, you probably know your neighbors well, and your family’s have probably known each other since not far after the Mayflower landed.  But, in urban or suburban-sprawl California, you probably don’t know anyone well because people tend to not know each other in California.  Credible Witness rules were created a long time ago when people used to know each other a lot better.

You might also like:

California notary issues
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=3528

A new California notary law
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=3054

California e-notary rules
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2077

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March 17, 2012

Oath of two credible witnesses

Oath of two credible witnesses
 
We wrote another quick blog entry regarding WHEN you can use the oaths of two credible witnesses to identify a signer.  We also specified WHICH STATES you are allowed to use the oaths of two credible witnesses in.  Please refer to:
 
Credible witnesses from A to Z 
to learn which states allow the use of oaths from two credible witnesses to identify a signer.  If a notary public uses two credible witnesses, then the notary doesn’t need to know those credible witnesses, however, the credible witnesses should be able to tell the notary public the complete name of the signer(s).  Please keep in mind that you should not use credible witnesses unless the signer either has no identification, or unless it is too difficult to obtain that identification (generally because it at a different place far away). 
 
Please keep in mind that the notary public must administer an oath to the credible witnesses asking them to swear under oath as to the identity of the signer, and that the credible witnesses should sign the notary journal in the notes section as well.  The notary must also identify the credible witnesses by means of identification documents such as a drivers license, passport, etc.

You might also like:

Can a notary charge for a credible witness?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2700

Sample Affidavits & Sample Oaths
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2372

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