The other day, I did a loan signing with a mortgage broker and Realtor present. First, I brought out my Notorial Log and completed the information in it. Both said wow, they never saw a notary do that. OK, it is not a Florida requirement, but it is foolish NOT to do this as a notary anywhere! Then, since there are always Jurats in every mortgage package (OK, maybe not EVERY, but virtually every if not all - I can't recall a mortgage package that DIDN'T have one) I gave them an oath about perjury. Both looked at each other and again stated, they didn't have any notary that they could recall do that. Now this, I have a problem with. Do they, and do you realize the potential impact of NOT completely doing your job as a notary? It could jeopardize a lot of things, and have implications for you as the notary, the borrower, the title company, and the lender. If something goes wrong down the line, and it ends up challenged in court, do you realize the headaches and problems this can cause - everyone!!??
Did you not see the words, "Sworn to and subscribed to...."? The very first word, "SWORN" is there for a reason. You are an official of the State of Florida, and if they swear to it, and sworn falsely, they can be brought up on perjury charges. That is serious business! If you did not give them an oath, and they signed it and you stamp it, you have not done your job, and it will be difficult at best to pursue perjury charges, even though they did in fact commit a perjury type of action, but without an oath being given, it would make it difficult or impossible to pursue these charges. Then you know who they are coming after - I think you can fill in the blank here!!! Other states might not call it a Jurat, although I would tend to believe most probably call it the same thing, and if not, they at least have the same kind of document that needs an oath be given to the person.
Do you follow all procedures, ALL the time? If not, do you realize the liability you are opening yourself up to? While everything mentioned in this blog is for Florida Notaries, many procedures are similar for every state - but take the time to KNOW all your state requirements before proceeding.
A notary public may notarize a signature on a document if the following conditions are met:
- The person whose signature is being notarized is in the presence of the notary public at the time the signature is notarized. NOTE: This does not say they have to sign the document in front of you, and for an acknowledgment, they do not have to sign it in front of you. BUT... if it is a Jurat, it states, "Sworn to and subscribed....." so the 'subscribed' means they signed in FRONT of you. So it is imperative to know the difference and your requirements!
- The document is complete. In other words - NO BLANKS!! (Keep in mind, if there are boxes that do not NEED to be checked - that is OK, but they may not be altered after you affix your stamp and signature.)
- The person signing the document is mentally competent and understands what he/she is signing. On this one, I think I mentioned it in one of my other blogs, it is not important for you to verify if they are doing something proper or not, but they MUST understand what they are signing. I had a man wanting me to notarize his wife's signature, but while she clearly had medical issues, she also clearly did not understand what she was about to sign. I have little doubt that they were doing nothing improper or illegal, BUT, she did NOT know what she was doing, so I had to respectfully decline the notarization and note it in my log and why I refused.
- The notary is in the State of Florida. You MUST be within the state border.
- The notary is not a party to the transaction - or mother, father, son, daughter, or spouse to the signer. While I believe this is all the law specifically states, if they are related in any way that you are aware of (blood or legal), unless it is a wedding, you are much safer finding a different notary to avoid the implication of any conflict of interest.
- A notary public must specify in the certificate of acknowledgment what type of identification was relied upon, and whether or not an oath was taken.
- Valid identification must be obtained from each person whose signature is to be notarized. Proper identification is necessary since legal consequences of an error are severe. The following examples are good forms of identification:
- Personal acquaintance of the notary
- Driver's license (FLORIDA ONLY - It may be expired, but expired NO more than six (6) months AND have been issued within the last five  years)
- Photo identification card issued (within the past five years) by a state or branch of the federal government
- A notary public must specify in the certificate, when two or more signatures are to be notarized, which signature is being notarized. It will be presumed that absent these specifics, notarization by the notary public is for all signatures on the document.
- When notarizing a document, it is important that the state, county where the signing took place, and date be completed before the acknowledgment and seal are affixed
This is just a brief overview of your responsibilities, but this is a good starting point. If you are not fully aware of at least these minimum requirements, then I strongly suggest you stop notarizing, and take the time to learn what your requirements are, and know what you can and cannot do. Also, I suggest you have at a minimum a membership with the ASN & NNA, as they both have help desk personnel that can assist you with the rare unusual things that inevitably come up in your job as a notary!
Title companies & mortgage brokers, help your borrowers- arrange to have their loan signed and notarized in their home, at their convenience by a Certified Notary Signing Agent (CNSA) Southwest Florida Notaries is open for your mortgage closing 24/7 at your location (Based in Murdock, FL, near Port Charlotte FL, but covering all of Southwest Florida - Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, Desoto, Lee and Collier counties)
Browse The Rain for a qualified and Certified Notary Signing Agent in your area.
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