Tuesday, August 28, 2018

DocVerify - the only company providing online notarization set up for independent notaries


 
Dear Darcy Meyer - please pass along to  DocVerify the following.

Thank you from Texas.

I have been a Texas notary for more than 20 years.   (Maybe 30, but who's counting!?)

 If not for DocVerify, I could not have moved forward to understand the way that online notarization works from a "hands on" view.

It’s been interesting to see that DocVerify  is the only company willing to allow Texas notaries to set up independently as online notaries. As of four months ago, no other technology company was willing to allow a Texas notary to purchase a single seat on a platform and operate independently. Sad for Texas notaries, but true!

I'm not sure what's caused this bizarre lockout of the those who were qualified for online commissions by virtue of their traditional commissions, in Texas.  

In Ohio and other states, notaries were asked to provide input...encouraged to do so.  If Texas notaries were offered a chance at involvement, I didn't know about it, and the others didn't share if they were involved.  Again, without you, we'd know very little.  

You may never get the recognition that you deserve for this by notaries public, but I am grateful.

I hope your platform is my online notary home for many years-- I'm going to stick with you. 

Thanks again for helping us out...your monthly fees have been a small price to pay.  

I receive no compensation for this statement or for endorsing my experience as positive with DocVerify.  I have received no special assistance. 


Best,

Brenda Stone

Texas Online Notary (still learning!)
College Station, Texas 77845



Sunday, August 5, 2018

7 Steps to a Flawless Notarial Act

Follow these steps every time you notarize!



Notarizing a deed is the same as notarizing a permission slip which is the same as notarizing a million dollar loan transaction document.  I’m not a lawyer and this isn’t legal advice. But, here is how I notarize documents. I perform the same steps each and every time.
(Feel free to click on the image and download it to print.)


STEP 1-Identify the Signer. 

First, I ask for ID, and I identify the signer. If there is no ID, I can’t do anything for a signer.

STEP 2-Start a journal entry. 

At the same time that I identify the signer, I start a journal entry.

STEP 3-Is the signer alert? 

I gauge the signer’s alertness and awareness about signing the document. I don’t grill the signer on the meaning or purpose of the document. I might ask if he is aware of why he is signing the document, but only if I am not sure that the signer is alert. 

It’s none of my business why he or she is signing the document, only if the signer knows why.

STEP 4-Make sure the document is complete.

I look over the document, scanning it for blanks. If there are blanks, I ask the signer to complete them. Once completed, I move forward. I don’t give the signer the answers to put in the blanks. If it doesn’t apply I will say, “Feel free to call someone if you need to.” They usually just write N/A and initial it.

STEP 5- Note the act to be performed.

I look at the certificate to determine the act that you are going to perform. I do not ask the signer to raise his or her right hand for any notarial act. It’s just a little bit dramatic for me and it is not required in my state; it may be in yours.

Step 5a-If a certificate of acknowledgement is attached to the document, the document may be signed before the signer meets with you. If it isn’t, the signer must sign the document before you complete the act. I ask the signer if she has signed the document for genuine purposes and for the reasons stated within the document. Some people ask the signer if they have signed the document of his/her own free will, etc. I don’t do that because that is covered under “genuine purposes.” If ever I think that a person is being coerced, I won't notarize the document. I have never run into a situation of coercion.

Step 5b-If a jurat is attached, you must see the person sign the document. If the document is already signed when the signer arrives, the signer will need to re-sign the document. I ask the signer if she swears or affirms the truthfulness of the statements she made within the document and if so, to please sign the document.

Step 5c-If a verification is attached, I do not have to see the person sign the document, but I must perform an oath. I ask the signer if he swears or affirms the truthfulness of the statements he makes within the document.

Step 5d-If no certificate is attached, show the signer samples of a certificate of acknowledgement, a jurat, and a verification, and ask which one the signer would like attached to the document. Once the signer chooses the certificate, perform accordingly as stated in 5a, 5b, or 5c above.

STEP 6-Complete the certificate and journal entry.

Complete the certificate, sign it, seal it, and complete the journal entry.

STEP 7-Issue a receipt.

By law, many states' notaries are required to provide an itemized receipt to anyone that pays for notary services.


Notaries: We are public servants. 
We took an oath to know our laws and to uphold them.

If we aren’t going to become familiar with our notary laws, yet we still 
charge for our services...isn't that fraud?



Thursday, August 2, 2018

How do I know if the document is legal?

Notaries aren't required to have legal knowledge.  That's what lawyers are for.  We don't judge documents to be right, legal, or effective.

Another new notary concern is: 

"How do I know if the document is okay to notarize?"  Answer:  That's not your problem.  If you want to know if there is any kind of document that you may not notarize, call your state's notary public administrator.  Asking on Facebook isn't the best way to get smart on notary skills.

New notaries are helpful people.  That's commendable, but it's also a trap for new notaries.  People want them to help find internet forms for their situations, help them fill out documents, help them decide what to say in a legal document.  Notaries should steer clear of all that.

It's not what you do.  That is not your purpose.

This article isn't for teaching a full-blown course, so I am going to boil it down into this:


  • Notaries are official witnesses--if asked at some time in the future, a notary can say "Joe Blow appeared before me and signed a 'Blah Blah Document' on May 30th 2016." (In Texas, the notary would be keeping a journal of notarial acts. Some states do not require journals.)

  • Notaries identify signers of documents.

  • Notaries watch as signers sign documents and...
  • If documents which are to be acknowledged are already signed, the notary asks the signer "Do you acknowledge that this is your signature....?"

  • If a document is to be sworn, the notary asks the signer to re-sign the document. 


  • Notaries administer oaths, asking signers or others "Do you swear or affirm your statements are truthful?"

  • In some states, notaries may make a certified (to be true and correct) copy of certain types of documents.


Notaries don't give opinions on whether something is legal.
Notaries don't suggest what goes in blanks. 
They do not help write legal documents. 
They don't help locate free forms (in my opinion, that's as bad as drafting legal documents).

Next time someone comes to you and asks you to notarize a document, remember that it is not your problem whether the document is legal, correct, or written right.

You are a witness; identify your signer and move forward.


When you don't feel you can properly identify a person, decline to notarize. If you don't know what you are doing, decline to notarize. If you don't know what your notary laws say, get  basic notary training, today.  

Don't scam the public. The public thinks you have learned how to be a notary--you signed an oath saying you are upholding the laws. How can you uphold the laws if you don't even know the laws? 

You certainly should not handle loan documents if you aren't trained.  

You will get yourself into trouble and you may really hurt the person whose loan documents you are handling.


If you are in Texas, please take the free training on the Secretary of State's website.  

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Significant to notaries--Texas AG Opinion Request: Must Guadalupe County Clerk Record Electronic Documents without e-Recording System?


Recently, I ran across a pending request for an opinion by the Texas Attorney General’s (AG) Office.  
The response of Ken Paxton, Texas AG, will almost certainly affect how quickly online notarization is adopted widely in Texas and so many other things.  

How so?

Because many notaries believe that as long as counties without erecording systems in place prevail in Texas, online notary activity will be slow to expand.  The response to this request for an AG opinion will affect all of Texas as to how quickly online and electronic notarization activity can be adopted statewide.


Guadalupe County Attorney Asks for Answers

The questions posed to the Texas AG in Letter No.  RQ-0235-KP comes from Guadalupe County, Texas where clerks require hard copies be presented for recording and there is no e-recording mechanism in place.

Asst. County Attorney Robert Etlinger asks the Texas AG critically important questions to help sort out this dilemma before the problem creates a landslide of rejected recordings and other misunderstandings.

Summary of the Question (Link)


Whether a county clerk whose office does not accept electronic documents for recording must accept and record a printed copy of an electronic document that does not comply with the original signature and other requirements of certain provisions of the Property Code.

Quick Review:  What are recordable documents?


Documents that are “recorded” in the official public records of a county are primarily the kind that signing agents handle:  deeds, deeds of trust, and other documents relating to the conveyance or encumbrance of real property. 


Guadalupe County’s  Letter Summarized

Without being too technical –

A-Guadalupe County does not accept e-recordings – only original paper documents may be recorded.

B-They face problems because of experienced “Filers” who are accustom to using e-recording systems and they  believe that all they need to do is print out a copy of the e-signed and e-notarized document to record it.

C-They also face problems because some county recorders will record plain copies of documents. They do not ask for originals. That perpetuates the idea that copies can be recorded.

D-The letter lays out three types of documents; none of them are originals with ink signatures.  Can they be recorded?

E- It points out that without original documents with ink signatures (but rather hard copies of printed electronic documents) to record, there are violations of several laws of The Texas Property Code by accepting them for recording.

F-It notes that the decision on these issues will affect the future when and if the county begins to e-record documents-- once any recording of copies gets started, it will be hard to stop.

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Read the letter at the link above.  
Stay alert for updates.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Today's Notary News Tip - What does the Note Say? Ring-ding-ding...hah-tee HO... (WEDNESDAY 6/13/18)


Yesterday, we covered the questions that borrowers have that are answered by the closing disclosure.  (Back track, my friends, and look at that one here.)  One thing I said in the previous article is...


If a notary wants to be a great signing agent, the notary will become familiar with where in the document stack he or she can point out answers for the borrower.

Today is Note Day!  Let's go over the note.


Feel free to share my favorite background music that I play as I'm creating the marked up copies of loan documents.

Here you go: "What does the Note, er, I mean FOX say?"   Put the volume on high and plow in.

Just like all these guys, every document has something very specific to say.
Dog  goes "Woof!"Cat  goes "Meow!"Bird goes "Tweet!"andMouse goes "Squeak!"Cow goes "Moo!"Frog goes "Croak!"and the Elephant goes "Toot."Ducks say "Quack!""Fish goes "Blub."and the Seals goes "Ow, ow, ow..."But there's one sound, that no one knows...
So, what DOES the Note say?


Besides "Ring-ding-ding-ding ..." and "Hah-tee, hah-tee, hah-tee HO!"

What does that NOTE SAY?

What questions in the borrower's mind does the document with the shortest title (the note) answer?
  • How much are we borrowing?
  • What is our interest rate?
  • When is my first payment due?
  • What date are all of my payments due?
  • Where do I send my payments?
  • What amount is my payment?  
  • Is there a prepayment penalty?


When I present a note, I simply say:  "Here's your note."

I go through the first page pointing out important pieces of the note puzzle.

"Here's your loan amount. There's your interest rate,
first payment date, the amount of your payment,
and of course, the address where you send your payment." 

I flip to the back, show them the place for signature, straighten it back up, and hand it over.

"Please review the note. When you are ready, sign as your name exactly as printed. Let me know if you have questions"

I turn back to the stack, pick up the next document, scan it and get ready to introduce the next one.

But, just for a few moments,  I am part of the video.   All of the animals have morphed into loan documents...there are affidavits, agreements, and dollar signs everywhere.  One day, I'll buy the rights and do a remake...I'll breathe new life into that old video.

"That's what the note says...a ring, ding, a-ding, hah-tee, hah-tee, hah-tee, HO!"  

CLICK TO SING ALONG


-----------

UPDATE 6/13/18 6:22 A.M. The SPW provides these guidelines.  https://spswg.files.wordpress.com/2016/02/spw-signing-presentation-guidelines-2016.pdf.  And the Code of Conduct here:  https://spswg.files.wordpress.com/2016/02/spw-code-of-conduct-2016.pdf.  

Please refer to this before you conclude that this is an "explanation" of documents.


4.5. Loan Terms
The Notary Signing Agent may identify and provide a general description of a loan or payment amount, interest rate, annual percentage rate, finance charge, payment schedule, assumption option, prepayment penalty or any other loan term to a borrower in the closindocuments, but may not explain, interpret or provide legal advice about the loan terms.

-----------











Sunday, June 10, 2018

Today's Notary News Tip - 34 Questions from Borrowers that the Closing Disclosure Answers (Monday 6/11/18 - Bonus edition)

If a notary wants to be a great signing agent, the notary will become familiar with where in the document stack he or she can point out answers for the borrower.

Signing agents might be interested in the great debate going on right now about how deep notaries can go when explaining documents.

I "introduce" documents by reading the title and remarking on the document's function while showing the borrower where the function is stated in the document.

Actually, I believe that a notary cannot explain anything.  Call it mincing words, but that word "explain" sounds too much like a kissing cousin of "advise." 

My friendly suggestion is that a Texas notary never explains documents unless the notary is also an attorney. 

That doesn't give notaries a pass not to know where the answers are or the primary function of the document. A good signing agent knows how to give a wonderful introduction to each document you're asking borrowers to sign.

Don't be a  notary who shrugs and says "I'm just an impartial witness."  Be a professional -- understand the purposes of the documents you're carrying around in your briefcase. You don't need to explain every detail, but you need to know what the headings say and where to find answers.

Did you know that in just ONE document-- the Closing Disclosure-- are 34 answers that borrowers seem to look for during loan signings?
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Free membership - list your notary business
These questions can be answered by being familiar with the Closing Disclosure.   I'm working through three stacks of documents.  More solid information to come!
  1. How much did I borrow?
  2. What is my interest rate?
  3. The APR on page 4 isn't the same as my interest, right?  
  4. Does it list the final amount I bought the property for?
  5. What is my loan amount?
  6. What type of loan is this? (Not VA or FHA; I applied for a conventional loan.)
  7. Is my loan a fixed rate or an adjustable rate mortgage?
  8. How many years long is my loan?
  9. Which property is this loan for? I am refinancing several this month.
  10. How much is my monthly payment?
  11. Do I have an escrow account?
  12. What will my escrow pay?
  13. How much are my closing costs?
  14. How much is my check supposed to be?
  15. What all did I pay for (in these closing costs)?
  16. What is the seller paying for? (When applicable!)
  17. Show me all these itemized charges.
  18. Can this loan be assumed?
  19. Can the lender make me pay this off early?
  20. What are the late charges for this loan if I pay late?
  21. How long can I wait to pay before I incur a late charge?
  22. Is there ever an increase in my loan?
  23. Can I pay extra payments?
  24. Can I pay partial extra payments?
  25. Is there a pre-payment penalty?
  26. What happens if I don't make my payments?
  27. How much will I pay in finance charges?
  28. What is APR?
  29. May I have a copy of my appraisal?
  30. What if I have decided now that I don't want this loan?  Am I obligated to sign these documents?
  31. Can I refinance this loan at any time?
  32. Can I deduct some of this on my tax return?
  33. What's my lender's contact information?
  34. What's the settlement agent's contact information?

Stay tuned!  Today, I'm working on a video on how I present documents and where to find answers in a loan package. 

---Texas Notaries---

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Saturday, June 9, 2018

Today's Notary Tip - June 9, 2018 - Take the Texas SOS FREE Notary Course ASAP!!! Do as I say--NOW! Go NOW!!!

Well, well, well!

Texans, we have training --free training -- some dang fine free training, y'all!  Check it out!

Click here and learn your Texas notary laws, rules, limitations, and more!

Don't learn in groups!  You'll learn wrong.

Most random group members are not educated on notary laws.  They never read them...if they did, they would not spout off utter nonsense!

Please, Texans...go to the SOS course...take it, learn notary laws correctly and operate lawfully as a Texas notary public.

Oh, and if you are happy with the training, send the SOS a little bit of notary love.

Drop them an email --


After you take the course, post in the Texas Notary Professionals group and tell us about it!!

Don't miss a post! Follow along by email!