Tuesday, March 29, 2016

What is Satisfactory Evidence of ID?

In this article, we'll discuss satisfactory evidence as it applies to identifying signers.  Many notaries believe that satisfactory evidence of identification means that any identification documents presented must be conclusive and perfect.

Suppose a signer presents a document and the signer's ID doesn't match the name stated on the document, notaries will often refuse to go forward with the notarial act even though they don't doubt that the person holding the ID is the same person in the document.

If this is your approach, please consider the following remarks from two attorneys who have spent many years examining notary laws.  I totally agree with these gentlemen and they are far more competent than I to make determinations of these types. (Note: As most of you know, I work for the American Association of Notaries.  By quoting competitors below, I hope to give credibility to the definition of "Satisfactory Evidence of ID." They've got it right.)

Bill Anderson of the NNA describes satisfactory evidence  perfectly in WWYD: The Case Of The Unidentifiable Signer-Your Answers:

"As with many scenarios, your best course of action depends on your state’s notarial laws. 
In Florida and California, satisfactory evidence of identity means the absence of any suspicious circumstances that would lead a reasonable person to believe the signer is not who he or she claims to be."

Attorney Peter J. Van Alstyne founder of NotaryLaw.com explains “satisfactory evidence” in his article, The Notary's Duty of Care for Identifying Document Signers* in this manner:

“In relying on satisfactory evidence, the correct question for the notary is not whether it is possible that the document signer is an impostor, but whether there is sufficient probability the signer is who he claims to be.
This important standard is not unlike the legal axiom that an accused person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Although the document signer bears the burden of proof as to his true identity, there should never be a presumption of attempted false identity on the signer's part unless the notary reveals such falsity through the presentation of satisfactory evidence.” 
*Article download available a limited time. I have shared my copy of Van Alstyne's article via my Dropbox account. I can only allow a few downloads since it is copyrighted material. If the link no longer works when you click it, it is because it was downloaded the number I am limited to sharing.

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