Notarize it.... 'cuz I said so, that's why!!

Services for Real Estate Pros with "A Quick Note" Tennessee! Expires May 16, 2023

     I'm a service provider.  Nothing makes me happier than to help a client with their notary needs and to help complete their business documents.  I get frustrated when, like today for example, I receive incomplete documents with blanks.  I kindly instruct my client that the document must be completed prior to notarization especially since this particular document shows dollar amounts and specific, needed dates of other documents.  I also explain that I am not an attorney and neither assist in the wording of nor offer advice as to the content of any incomplete document.  Then, I hear second-hand that a person at the lender states she is a notary too and that such a notarization (leaving spaces blank) is really "OK" to do.  Suddenly, this mobile notary assignment places me in the position of having to refuse to complete the assignment and even argue my position.  All because one improperly-informed notary who, if on-site would have performed an illegal act. 

 Here is the wording, direct from the State of California NOTARY HANDBOOK (2008 version):



   A notary public may not notarize a document which is incomplete.  If presented with a document for notarization, which the notary public knows from his or her experience to be incomplete or is without doubt on its face incomplete, the notary must refuse to notarize the document.  (Government Code section 8205)


Hire yourselves a Notary Signing Agent that is ethical and adheres to the laws of their state.  One who will not compromise their oath, just for the sake of earning...


"A Quick Note"  

Comments (16)

Lu Kalaj
Vision Realty Centers - Brighton Township, MI
That's right... tell your client to fill the form correctly.  Your job role, well defined.  Thanks for blogging.  Lu
Apr 17, 2008 07:10 AM
Peter Nikic
Broad & Bailey Realty LLC - Valhalla, NY
Shannon - I thought a notary public is used to verify that the person signing the document is in fact the person signing the document. and not that the content in the document is acurate. I mean it makes sense that the document is filled out before signing, like no one would sign a check and just turn it over blank, right?
Apr 17, 2008 07:12 AM
Greg Hampton
Re/Max Around The Mountains - Blue Ridge, GA
North Georgia Mountain Property,Blue Rid
You can always just tell them NO!
Apr 17, 2008 07:13 AM
David Farrell
David V. Farrell Co. - Garden City, NY
Licensed NY State Real Estate Broker

Wow, I am from NY and I always worked under the impression that I was only proving that the signature on a piece of paper was genuine.  So, I watch the person sign in my presence, I ask for ID, I make sure everything matches and I'm done.  I've got to check the NYS laws.  I even go so far as to tell people, "My notary doesn't mean that every word on that document is a lie, it only means tht you are the one who signed it.  I don't care who it is for, what it's about or what you want to do with it so long as you sign in my presence, show me qualified ID and then hit the road."


Interesting piece.  Thank you for posting it.


Apr 17, 2008 07:14 AM
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA
Shannon:  That type of behavior on the behalf of such "hack" notaries is a symptom of a larger problem throughout our real estate industry.  Coloring outside the lines....who cares?  I do!  I love my profession and won't put my real estate license on the line for ANYONE. 
Apr 17, 2008 10:24 AM
Shannon Ziccardi
"A Quick Note" Tennessee! - Clarksville, TN
"A Quick Note" Mobile Notary Tennessee!

Lu- ultimately, I held my ground, after posting my rant here, they caved in and completed the document and I conducted the shouldn't have to have been so hard though-I mean, why would I lie to "not" complete a's ridiculous.  Anyways, it got done correctly...thanks for the support!

Peter- You make a partially correct point.  Yes, we verify that the signers identity is correct and YES, we know nothing about the content of the documents we notarize (this allows us to remain a disinterested 3rd party)  We must, however give the document a cursory review so that 1. It does not contain information that we know to be false and 2. contains no blank spaces that could be easily changed or altered after the fact.  This document had crucial blanks wirh a dollar amount and a specific document date and therefore could not be notarized until it was complete...if you think it's bad now wait until the pain of more foreclosures alter the way lenders draw docs in the future.  It will get tougher...NOT easier.

Greg- Actually that is what I did.  But knowing that they would try to entice another notary to see it their way, I felt a duty to both encourage and point out the proper procedure.  They ended up going that route too!

David- You are basically correct.  But, this issue of blanks was my problem, not the content.  I couldn't tell them that the document was lawful for example, ONLY lawfully executed.

Chris- I agree. There are many less ethical and far many less knowledgable notaries out there.  Hire a professional and you will not go wrong.  If you need someone in your area call me and I'd be happy to help you find someone with that experience.  I too love what I do! 

Apr 17, 2008 12:32 PM
Joan Bergstrom
Joan Bergstrom Mobile Notary - Riverside, CA
Mobile Notary, Riverside CA

I got a phone call today and the person asked if I could assist in filling out a CA Quit Claim Deed.

I told him I couldn't and he said thanks and he never called back. Surprise

Apr 17, 2008 04:35 PM
Shannon Ziccardi
"A Quick Note" Tennessee! - Clarksville, TN
"A Quick Note" Mobile Notary Tennessee!
Yes Joan- In the six years I have been doing notary work, I have been constantly surprised to learn just how little the general population knows about what we do, how we do it and why we even exist.  It seems that during that time we have also made no headway toward educating them either. 
Apr 17, 2008 05:38 PM
Pamela Knight
Urban Knight Enterprises, Inc. - Phoenixville, PA


I am glad you stood your ground...the ruling is the same in blank documents are to be notarized and you must refuse.  The other day, a guy from Pakinstan requested that I notarize copies of his birth certificates, marriage license and other pertinent documents.  He just want me to stamp it and he would be on his way.  I had to inform him that I could not do that...certificates were needed and some documents I could not do notarize because PA state guildlines do not permit me the birth certificate and marriage licenses.  The guy became hostile and stated that he had it done before.  So, I had to decline because I was not going to lay my license on the line for him.  He called me back to report  that he got a notary on his job to do it....all I could think was how unfortunate that there are some notaries that do not know what they can and can't do.  It is very important that we know our state guidelines and the risks involved if we do not comply with the guidelines. 

Apr 18, 2008 01:26 PM
Shannon Ziccardi
"A Quick Note" Tennessee! - Clarksville, TN
"A Quick Note" Mobile Notary Tennessee!
Thanks Pamela!  Rock
Apr 18, 2008 03:04 PM
Joan Bergstrom
Joan Bergstrom Mobile Notary - Riverside, CA
Mobile Notary, Riverside CA

I think for the most part the general public doesn't understand just what a CA Notary Public can do?

Most of the time if you asked someone from the public who wanted a document notarized, they think if we sign our name and place our seal on a document, then the document is notarized.


Apr 18, 2008 05:50 PM
sierra valley notary

The general public does not understand that legal documents can only be filled out by a legal document specialist registered with the state or paralegal who functions under the supervision of an attorney in the state of CA. Any notary that fills out docs is illegally practicing law and subject to possible certification loss and fines.

Good for you Shannon for practicing high ethical and legal standards.

I believe the CA Notary Handbook specifically states the Ca Codes that apply. It might be helpful to show clients and ill informed notaries the specific laws in order to educate others.

Elizabeth from Sierra Valley Notary

Aug 07, 2008 02:39 AM
Tim Riddle
Tim Riddle Broker Associate,Marsha Hardin Real Estate - Azle, TX
SFR,TAHS, Azle ,Fort Worth Real Estate

Shannon, Thats good of you to stand your ground and go by the rules. Some people have no clue just what a notaries job is.

Aug 24, 2008 09:18 AM
Mary Kelly
Mary E. Kelly Mobile Notary Public - Stockton, CA

Kudos to you for standing for what is right.   You are also correct that a great many notaries are practicing without knwing the rules.  This is partly why the public doesn't understand what we do.   We are suppose to be the defense against fraudulant documents, but if a notary is notarizing a blank document, how can it be determined if there is fraud???

Sep 19, 2008 12:06 PM
Denise OnullDell
Santa Clarita Mobile Notary - Santa Clarita, CA
Mobile Notary Public/Real Estate Agent

Absolutely right thing to do!  I never notarize any document that has blanks or is incomplete.  Great post by the way.

Sep 23, 2008 06:44 PM
Renee Kovacs
Renee A. Kovacs NSA Services - Northville, MI

It is interesting that the reference to blank spaces contained in documents was REMOVED from the Michigan Notary Public Act. 

It seems to me, as a notary public but NOT as an attorney (i.e. purely conversational opinion here) that MI's change reflected the fact that a notarization does not speak to the validity or truthfulness of a documents contents - only to the identity of the signer, the signer's willingness to sign - and (if a jurat) the SIGNER'S affirmation to the truthfulness of the document.

This retraction of the need for all blank spaces to be filled definitely had a huge impact on the one snag we dealt with, specific to mortgages - the ever-missing legal description, which is generally attached after the signing, but prior to recording by the title agent.

Sep 24, 2008 10:01 PM