Friday, January 29, 2016

Something Extra for Your Notary Journal (Lagnaippe!)

A storekeeper in Louisiana might say to you (as you're checking out with your purchased goods)  "I've added a lagniappe to your bag." This means they've given you a little something extra, like a 13th cookie (rather just the 12 in a dozen), a promotional item, or other small gift. Lagnaippe (according to Wikipedia) is “something given or obtained gratuitously or by way of good measure." 

This article describes adding a bit of lagniappe to your record book.  While not necessarily a gift at the time you add it, if you ever need to prove the authenticity of a transaction or a signature, the lagniappe in your journal entries may become  wonderfully valuable bits of information when you need them most.

Recently, I decided to record more than usual when I was presented for notarization a document that related to an intellectual property agreement. Without divulging much more, I'll just say that I had a feeling that this agreement could create a problem down the road. Because of this, I was careful to record not only the regular information and asked the signer to sign my journal (which he did), but I also noted in my journal:

(1) that the signer said he had read the complete agreement and understood its purpose and verbally acknowledged his signing the document for the purposes it stated,

(2) the fact that the agreement was signed before another person and his name although he didn’t sign the document, and

(3) that the notary certificate was malformed (didn’t have a notary signature line) but I added the line to the document.

Those are the kinds of notes I make in my journal that aren’t required.  There are many other bits of information that can be helpful if a document executed during a transaction becomes the genesis of a court case.  The list below includes both commonly required information for journal entries and extra notable facts that you may want to record as well.  (Note: The list below doesn't distinguish between what you MUST record from items that you may choose to record.)

Transaction Identifiers that Notaries May Choose to Record in Journals

1. Date of Notarization. This is the most critical date--the date the signer appears before you.

2. Time of Notarization. Some notaries like to record the exact time of appointment or performance of the notarial act.

3. Date of Document Execution. If the signer’s document has an acknowledgment certificate attached to it, you may want to note the date the signer executed the document.

4. Venue (County) of the Act. The notarial certificate states the place where the act was performed and it is good to include the matching information in your journal.

5. Address of the Act. You may want to include exactly where the act took place by noting an address or business name (i.e., 1st Bank of Notaryville).

6. Document Date. Documents may be dated for a date that is before or after the notarial act. For more information on this, see Documents Dated for the Future (Post-dated Documents).

7. Document Title. If there is a title, record that in your journal.

8. Document Type. For example, the entry would state “Affidavit,” “Deed,” “Power of Attorney,” “Automobile Title,” “Contract,” “Last Will and Testament,” or other document title or type.

9. Parties Named in Document. The names of any parties mentioned in the document enhance the description of the document. This would not have to be as extensive as all named beneficiaries in a will because that would be invasive. However, identifying the parties in an agreement you are notarizing would be helpful. For instance, “Minor Child initials “B.C.,” Notaryville Elementary School” if the notarized document is a permission slip to allow a minor child to go on a field trip with her elementary school. Personally, I don’t name the child’s full name, only his or her initials, when I am creating an entry relating to minor child since Texas notaries’ journals are public records.

10. Other Signers. If other signers will be signing the document, but aren’t appearing before you to sign the document, noting those names as “not appearing” adds a housekeeping task that makes your record thorough.

11. Signer’s Name. You may record the name on the ID and the name stated in the document if there is a slight variance.

12. Method Used to Identify a Signer. State how you identified the signer (e.g., personal knowledge, credible witness, or use of ID documents). If identity is established by ID documents, note the document type and expiration date. [Notaries outside of Texas should record other information if required by law.]

13. Signer Information. Record his or her address and you may ask for his or her telephone number, if you’d like to. Although I have never needed it, I know of situations where notaries have been contacted by the recording clerk to ask for a phone number.

14. ID Variance Explanation. If there is a variance of the signer’s name stated in the document vs. the name on the ID, explain why you accepted the ID.

15. Signature of Signer. All notaries should request that signers sign their journals as proof they appeared in person. In Texas (or other states not requiring a signer’s signature in the record book), you should not decline to notarize if a signer refuses to sign your record book.

16. Thumbprints of Signers, Witnesses, Credible Witnesses. In Texas, never ask for these parties to provide thumbprints for the record book. In other states, proceed according to your notary laws or with permission of your notary public administrator. For more information on this, see Thumbprints don’t Belong in a Texas Notary’s Record Book.

17. Witnesses. Witnesses who sign a document should be named in your journal. Record how you identified the witnesses and their addresses. If identity is established by ID documents, note the document types and their expiration dates. [In other states, if identity is established by ID documents, note other information required by law.] All notaries should request that witnesses sign their journals as proof they appeared and signed the document before the notary. In Texas (or other states not requiring a signer’s signature in the record book), you should not decline to notarize if a witness refuses to sign your record book.

18. Credible Witnesses. Those who identify others through an oath should be named in the journal along with the fact that you actually administered an oath relating to the identification of the party being identified. Texas notaries must know credible witnesses personally. Record how you know credible witnesses, how long you have known them, and their addresses. All notaries should request that credible witnesses sign their journals as proof they appeared before the notary at the time of notarization. In Texas (or other states not requiring a signer’s signature in the record book), you should not decline to notarize if a credible witness refuses to sign your record book. [In other states, if identity of a credible person or credible witness is established by ID documents, note information required by law, if any, in your record book.]

19. Grantor. The person giving property, power, or something else to another in a document (usually the signer, but not always) is a great piece of information to record. (The grantor is the principal in a power of attorney; the grantor could also be the one who signs a mortgage or deed of trust.)

20. Grantee. The person receiving property, power, or something else from another in a document is important information that identifies a certain document. (The grantee is the attorney-in-fact in a power of attorney; a grantee could also be the lender on a mortgage document, i.e., the mortgagee.)

21. Attorney’s Name. If an attorney prepared a document and the document states that information, you may list that in your journal.

22. Property involved. If property is mentioned in the transaction (i.e., rental property or property being conveyed) citing that information is helpful to identify the document if called later about the notarial act you performed on it.

23. Number of Pages in a Document. If you the number of pages in a document, be careful to record the exact page numbers and the page number your notarial certificate appears on.

24. Notarization Certificate Type. Note “Jurat,” “Verification,” “Acknowledgment,” “Oath,” “Certified Copy Certificate / Name of Document,” for instance. If you attach a loose certificate, note it in your journal.

25. Verbal Ceremony. Note that you performed the proper ceremony according to the certificate attached to the document you have notarized. For instance, when there is a verification reciting facts that the signer must swear to, I write “ver. facts + oath” to show that I was cognizant of the verification certificate’s requirements and performed the oath accordingly.

26. Fee. Note the fee you charged for your acts; if you charged a travel fee, note the charge for that. In other words, itemize your fees.

27. Other Fees/Hiring Company Payments. If you were working for a service who contracted you for a job, you may choose to include what you were paid for the work. Keep in mind, however, that in Texas, your notary records are public documents and a copy of an entry may be requested that shows this information.

28. Hiring Company. If you are a signing agent or mobile notary, you may want to record the company you were working for, the title company involved, and the lender. Again, be aware a Texas notary’s records are public documents and a copy of an entry may be requested that shows this information.

29. Observations about Special Circumstances. Include, for instance, notes about others present during the notarial act, the reason you declined a notarial act, if the signer had a disability, and if the signer was of advanced years, include why you believe they were aware of the document’s purpose.

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