Sunday, March 18, 2018

Misinformation on Signing by Mark or X

Visit the Texas Notary Professionals Directory if you are seeking a mobile notary in Texas!

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For Texas notaries, there is more misinformation online than accurately stated information relating to signing by mark or signing by X. 

I'm looking at two handbooks on my desk in which both have stated a complicated manner of handling the signature of a person who writes an X as his signature.  Both have copied sources (that have copied other sources) from the 1980s--that's 30 to 40 years ago!

The Texas Secretary of State's FAQs says:
Are there restrictions on the way an instrument is signed?
A notary must sign the notarial certificate using the same name that is listed on the commission issued by the secretary of state. However, as long as the name matches, the signature of the notary may be printed, written, typed, stamped, etc.

The individual signing the document may sign in whatever manner he/she chooses.

The name or manner of signing used by the signor is not the responsibility of the notary public. However, the notary public does have a responsibility to make sure that the information contained in the notarial certificate is accurate. For example if John Doe appears before a notary public and signs the instrument with an “X” the notary public should still state in the notarial certificate that John Doe personally appeared on a given date.

In 2014, while editing a handbook for a client, I found this Tex. Gov't Code §311.005(c) which clued me in that Texas law didn't require a person signing by mark  to be treated differently than a person who signed with perfect penmanship:

Tex. Gov't Code §311.005
(6) "Signed" includes any symbol executed or adopted by a person with present intention to authenticate a writing.
      (Note:  italics added by me.)

To me, that sounds like the signer who writes an X or a symbol is the same as any other signer--I'm not lawyer, but that's what I draw from these two items. 

Over the years, I have observed (and experienced) that notary website owners are writing for search engine content--banging on certain keywords to bring shoppers to their supplies section over and above providing accuracy.  There is no problem with that as long as the correct information is provided.

I have also experienced (as an editor) while working with writers that some are more interested in boasting about what the author believes, not producing a guidebook that is accurate.   In fact, the more complicated and frightening some writers can make your duties sound, the better, for some reason. Your actions do indeed have consequences, for both you and the signer.  However, you can't learn in a frenzy of fear.  And, if you are informed and careful, you won't make errors.  

Become an INFORMED Texas notary today!



My best advice to you is when in doubt, go to the Texas Secretary of State's Notary Public Unit for correct information. 

Notary Public Unit: (512) 463-5705
Notary Public Unit FAX number: (512) 463-5255

The Notary Public Unit processes notary public applications. Upon qualification, a notary public is mailed a four-year commission. This unit is also responsible for processing the notary public complaints received and distributing an educational notary public video. Questions/Comments may be submitted by contacting our Notary Public Unit.

Unit Mailing Address:
Notary Public UnitSecretary of StateP.O. Box 13375Austin, Texas 78711-3375

The Texas Secretary of State or your own attorney is the only source that can lead you in the right direction with certainty.

If you are seeking information about how to handle signing on behalf of a person who cannot sign for her- or himself, please consult 

Sec. 406.0165.  SIGNING DOCUMENT FORINDIVIDUAL WITH DISABILITY. 

(a) A notary may sign the name of an individual who is physically unable to sign or make a mark on a document presented for notarization if directed to do so by that individual, in the presence of a witness who has no legal or equitable interest in any real or personal property that is the subject of, or is affected by, the document being signed. The notary shall require identification of the witness in the same manner as from an acknowledging person under Section 121.005, Civil Practice and Remedies Code.

(b) A notary who signs a document under this section shall write, beneath the signature, the following or a substantially similar sentence:

"Signature affixed by notary in the presence of (name of witness), a disinterested witness, under Section 406.0165, Government Code."

(c) A signature made under this section is effective as the signature of the individual on whose behalf the signature was made for any purpose. A subsequent bona fide purchaser for value may rely on the signature of the notary as evidence of the individual's consent to execution of the document.

(d) In this section, "disability" means a physical impairment that impedes the ability to sign or make a mark on a document.

Visit the Texas Notary Professionals Directory 

if you are seeking a mobile notary in Texas!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Don't Judge the Texas Notary in the Headlines.

Texas notary Erica J. received her first notary commission in 2016.   Erica J. is now making national headlines because of a notary error she made on a document relating to the most controversial U.S. president in history.

Texas notary laws do NOT require training.
They do NOT require testing. So, many notaries don't see it as a priority.

The error:  She stamped her seal on the page next to the woman's signature. NO notary certificate was used--it was all wrong.  Please see the link for details

I have a great deal of empathy for Erica.  It's tragic. She'll be pestered by the media. Her life will basically turn into a living hell.

There's not a lot I can do to help her, but I sure won't judge her.
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The Secretary of State’s office has provided a handbook and excellent free online training for notaries.

Have you read the handbook?  I have--several times.

Have you taken the online video training?  I have. I'll probably take it again, now.  This is a wake up call, Texas notaries.


  • Protect your future. 
  • Self-educate.
  • Know what you can and cannot do. 


I have seen the same notary error that Erica made many times.  It is common.

Over the years, I have talked to several notaries in the Texas Notary Facebook Group  by phone and private messaging about why they cannot do what Erica did. 

Perhaps no one told Erica about the free training on the SOS's website, but you are reading about it right now.  Take advantage of it, please.

Thank you.

Brenda Stone – NotariesAndNotaryNews.com -  3/12/18

P.S. -- Erica, I don't know you, but if you read this blog post, I want you to know that I am empathetic to your situation.  I don't judge you.  What you did is a common thing that new notaries do--they don't realize that using their seals in that fashion is a problem.   If our Texas laws placed a high priority on notary training in this state of 420,000+ notaries public, you would have been trained.

Yes, you should have read the laws and figured this stuff out, but you aren't the exception.  You are like most other notaries who received a commission in 2016.

I've learned that new notaries don't understand how critical their laws are or why they should be studied.
Notary errors can happen to anyone. I know that doesn't help much, but I'm sorry you are going through this.  Take care of yourself.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

"How long until I can go full-time as a notary signing agent?"

Each day in Facebook notary groups I see questions like this:

"How long until I can go full-time as a notary signing agent?"

I won't answer that within Facebook groups because it gets people riled up and the admins and moderators don't need that!

But, in case you wondered, here's what I believe.

No.1 - IS IT THE WORST TIME OR THE BEST TIME?  IT IS BOTH!

Today is the worst time in history to go full time into your signing agent career.

That's right--it is a terrible time; but, it's not going to get any better.

 So, that makes it the best time possible if you plan to take the plunge.

I realize that's not very helpful to hear, but bear with me.

No. 2 - WHY IS IT THE WORST TIME?

Notaries (even those who just got started) should already know that remote online notarization will have a severe, if not fatal, impact on the ability to make money as a notary signing agent. Why not enjoy the extra income of part-time signing?  Pay off some bills and save up for a rainy day--just know that it may not be permanent.

Why would I say that?


  • If a notary can sit in the comfort of her home and do closings one after another throughout the day, doesn't it mean less notaries will be needed?
  • Companies that have online platforms for notarizing documents are in business to make money and be competitive (just like we are).   The business model for online closings will not be set up to make notaries rich. 
  • Right now, it looks like we will have to use platforms to be online notaries because the cost and technology will be out of reach for us.  If that happens, we'll probably earn no more than $5.00 per notary seal.

No. 3 - WHY IS IT THE BEST TIME?

It is not going to get any better in the future--this is as good as it is going to get.

It's been a good ride, but the future for notary signing agents as they exist today isn't bright.

Don't give up your dreams of being self-employed.

Keep your eyes open and be ready to abandon the notary gig for greener pastures. As more states pass remote online notary laws, things will shift like crazy. 

Opportunities will present themselves.

No. 4 - KNOWLEDGE IS POWER.


This isn't negative thinking.  It's information you need.

Use this knowledge to plan your future wisely. Be cautious.

Don't put all your eggs in the notary signing agent basket. Bank what you can bank today and keep your eyes open for opportunity outside of notary work.

No. 5 - YOU WERE LOOKING WHEN YOU FOUND THIS GIG

Other things are out there.  By knowing to keep your eyes wide open, you'll see more opportunities.


No. 6 - READ THESE TWO BOOKS

These books will change your way of thinking.



You'll have ideas and see opportunity that you haven't seen before. They will teach you to think like an entrepreneur.  (If you buy an item through any link provided on this website, I may earn a commission of 6% --it helps with the expenses of running this site.)


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