Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Know the Correct Words for your Notarial Certificates (+Video).


Tonight's News for Notaries

I am recording late this evening because I wanted to share a bit of information.

I just finished notarizing a power of attorney for a young man whose wife will be signing on his behalf in another state. It was the strangest power of attorney I have ever notarized. It was in the form of an affidavit (and prepared by an attorney). Within the document, the signer swore upon his oath that the document he signed was his intent which is different from the ones I have seen.

TIP: No Need to Look at ID if the Notary Knows the Signer

I knew the husband, so there was no reason to look at ID and if you know someone well enough, it’s your prerogative as a notary public to notarize using personal knowledge as the way you identify a signer.

TIP: Always Scan the Document and Look for a Certificate

I scanned the document quickly with my eyes. It had no notarial certificate on it so I had to write one above the area where a  signature line waited for my signature.

Fortunately, with my focus not being the best when people are hanging around me and waiting for me to notarize a document, things were in good order at this household.  The baby was being happy and  quiet.  The sweet old bear of a dog wasn't too interested in what I was doing, and the two witnesses who were called in at the last minute weren’t watching me.

Item of Interest:  Signer's Wife was an Attorney

The signer’s wife was an attorney and holds a license in two states to practice law, neither of them being in the state where the power of attorney would be used. After I explained my dilemma and that I had to write in a certificate, she agreed that it was right for me to handwrite in a jurat that says “sworn to and subscribed to before me…” because of the swearing wording in the beginning of the document indicating that an oath was required by the husband. Fortunately, she knew me and knew I wasn’t grandstanding by insisting a certificate was necessary.   I wrote the certificate in by hand.

As an aside, I’ll mention that I do a lot of real estate work and have worked for real estate attorneys. I know that if the P.O.A. isn’t notarized correctly, it presents a problem.

TIP: Things that Can Happen if a Power of Attorney is Notarized Improperly

If you have had experience with real estate, you know like I do that one of three things is bound to happen if you notarize a power of attorney improperly. In this case, my worry was...

(1) The title company wouldn't let her use the power of attorney to complete the document execution if it was not notarized properly.

(2) The power of attorney would not be accepted when recorded with the documents she signed on hubby’s behalf (and recording the power of attorney is usually a requirement).


(3) The lender would  reject the power of attorney and would not allow her to sign loan documents on her husband’s behalf.

TIP:  Caution -  Affidavits and Powers of Attorney are Low-Hanging Fruit

Affidavits and powers of attorney are both low hanging fruit when a party to a transaction decides to get out of his or her obligation! I was notarizing a document that was BOTH of those things. I wasn’t going to notarize this document if I wasn’t notarizing it properly.

Today’s take-away tips are:  

As a notary...

  • Know exactly what your notarial certificates should say. 
  • You will be doing yourself a huge favor by memorizing the correct wording for your state’s notarial certificates
  • Please don’t ever just sign your name and stamp!  
  • Be sure that you have a certificate on which to complete the notarial act. 
  • If there isn’t one, write one in.
  • Read the notarial certificate provided for you, if there is one.
  • If it is not substantially like your state’s notarial certificate, make corrections to it neatly.
  • You may also attach an acceptable notarial certificate.
Above is a Today's Takeaway Tip Sheet with this information on it.


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