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November 21, 2011

Can a notary get in trouble?

Can a notary get in trouble?
Notary trouble…
Do you know a notary in trouble?  Have you ever heard of a notary losing their commission or getting fined for misconduct or neglegence?  The answer is — yes, but they generally don’t get caught.  If you are a notary public, it is your responsibility to know your state notary laws, and keep up to date with law changes.  Notary laws change little by little, year by year.  As a general rule, if you deliberatly do something fraudulent that injures another party, you could get in huge trouble or even jailed.  If you make an honest mistake and someone else has a financial loss, you might get in trouble too. If you make a minor mistake or are neglegent in maintaining your certificates or journal, you could get in trouble, but there would be no pressing reason for the authorities to catch up to you.  My advice is to be an expert in your trade and don’t goof!!!  Don’t take liberties, and follow the law to the letter without going to excesses.  Some notaries on our site go overboard and don’t want to advise someone to breath without consulting an attorney — those people are extremists!!!
Can a notary get in trouble for notarizing a family member?
Notaries can not notarize a document that they have a beneficial interest in, and family business might be of financial interest to you.  I would avoid notarizing your spouse’s signature or close family member’s signature especially if the document has any financial overtones.  However, distant family members where you have no financial entanglements might be okay.  This is a gray area, and it is better to be safe than sorry. It’s more “kosher” to find a notary who is a third party who is not involved in your life.
Can a notary get in trouble for not witnessing a signature?
A notary must witness the signing of a document when performing a Jurat.  However, the notary is NOT responsible for witnessing the signature in an Acknowledged signature.  But, the notary MUST witness the signer signing the notary journal (if your state requires journals — and it is a good idea to keep a journal in any case).  A notary is not exactly a witness except they can function as a witness as an official notary act in Delaware and New Hampshire as far as I know.  The notary’s main responsibility is to identify the signer and be sure that the signer is the one who really signed the document.
Can I get in trouble for being a notary?
Just follow the laws and have E&O insurance, and you will most likely be okay.
Can notaries get in trouble? Can a notary be in trouble? Could a notary be in trouble?
Yes they can get in big trouble, but if they follow the law, then they will most likely be okay.
Can a notary get in trouble for goofing a signature?
The notary signs their own signature on the certificate form generally nearby where their stamp goes.  But, it is the signer who signs the document, and it if the signer goofs their signature, they can sign again.
Can you get in trouble for signing a loan document?
Yes, the borrower is responsible for the loan that they sign. The notary is responsible for making sure everything is signed properly.
Have notaries ever got in trouble?
I have only heard of one serious case where a notary commited some serious intentional fraud and was put in jail.  Most notaries do not know what they are doing and fill out forms incorrectly, but for some reason don’t seem to get in trouble.
How can a notary get in trouble?
If you engage in fraud involving real property you can be jailed, and that is the most serious crime that I have heard of for notaries.  Assisting a party forge a signature and getting notarized is very serious in any case.  If you send notary certificates without a party being notarized, that is a case where a notary can be fined and lose their commission.  There are notary handbooks that go over several dozen types of violations and what the fines are. The fines are different across state lines, but notaries can be fined, and their commissions can be revoked, suspended, terminated, or their notary division could refuse to renew their commission, etc.
So, now you have learned a few of the ways that a notary can get in trouble.

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