The other day, I received this question from a new notary:
"A guy needs help with a statement about his income.
Would you please look at what I have written for him and see what you think?"
I didn't think about it.
And, I didn't look at it.
That's neither your circus and nor your monkey.It's important to know your limits...what you can and cannot do. Not knowing this can get you de-commissioned, sued, and fined.
I told my new friend that he could only complete a proper Texas notarial certificate.
Texas notaries never draft a statement for a client. That's acting as if you have been trained in legal matters. Drafting documents or doing the following can carry stiff penalties including losing your commission. Remember that the document portion above the notary certificate just isn't our monkey.
- We don't help write documents.
- Do not help signers to fill in blanks. If they can't complete any blanks in a document, you must decline to notarize the document.
- Notaries must not suggest that a client needs a certain type of document or that they do not have the correct document.
- Notaries do not write statements to verify something that a client did, then seal and sign it.
- Notaries never sign a notarial certificate when it is the notary's signature on the document that must be notarized.
The Document: It's definitely not our circus!Documents are the client's business.
We don't read them carefully--we only look at them for completeness and to get enough information to log in our notary journals.
Don't write on them without direct supervision from an authority. (For instance, don't change the signer's name, or mark out an absent signer's name in the document proper.)
Notary's MonkeysHere are your monkeys...notice none of them indicate writing documents for clients. Your circus includes this:
- Identifying Clients
- Completing a Proper Certificate
- Ensuring that the person before you is mentioned in the notary certificate and that no absent signers are.
- Following the Steps of a Proper Notarial Act (If you do not know them, my steps for performing a notarial act are at the bottom of this article.)
What if the Notary Certificate is Missing?
Many notary experts say not to pick a certificate for a client, and that you must let the client pick.
However, those same authorities allow notaries to say for certificates of acknowledgment "This is usually on a deed." or for jurats "This is usually found on a sworn statement."
The best thing to do is to show them samples of your notary certificates.
You may download a copy of my personal Texas notary certificates here but be sure to read the cautionary statement below.
//End of article; more about the subject appears below.//
Read more in Nine Tips about Notary Certificates.
Bookmark and refer to this page often where the Texas Secretary of State's educational links are listed.
Texas Notary Certificate Caution: Please read
The other day, someone said that I might be practicing law by making my certificates available for you. So, if you think I am giving you "legal advice," for the love of Pete, please don't download my certificates! By all means, go here and use the samples from the Texas Secretary of State that I used to make my own. You can also make your own, or you can purchase them, or go to the National Notary Association's site and look up your own state's notary certificates.
You'll notice that my certificates are harmonious with most recordable documents you may have seen. I don't fancy them up with check boxes and clutter or extra writing outside of the one-inch margin around the page.
How I Notarize Step-by-stepBy Brenda Stone
I could have put it in first person rather than speaking to you. But it sounds ridiculous, so I didn't. Just know that these aren't legal advisories, only my notes on how I notarize.
• Start a journal entry and collect necessary information about the signer and the document.
• ID the signer. Usually this means you will review the signer’s ID documentation. Alternatively, the signer may be introduced to you by someone you know personally (and knows the signer). Or, you can notarize for a signer who you know well without requiring ID documentation.
• Quickly scan the document for completeness and to collect information for your journal entry.
• If there are blanks, ask the signer to complete them.
• Note whether there is a notarial certificate. If there isn’t a certificate attached to the document, show the signer samples of certificates allowed by Texas law. The signer must pick one. Attach the chosen certificate to the document.
• Conduct the required verbal and/or signing ceremony.
- Certificates of Acknowledgment - You do NOT have to see the document signed. Your verbal ceremony will be similar to: Do you acknowledge this is your signature and you have signed it for genuine purposes and intent?
- Jurat - You MUST see the signer execute the document. Your verbal ceremony will be similar to: Do you swear or affirm that your statements above are truthful? If yes, please sign the document to signify so.
• Complete the certificate accurately.
• Affix your seal (stamp) and signature.