Statements of Fact by NY Notaries

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Statements of Fact by NY Notaries

In many states, notaries are permitted to “certify” a copy of a document; however, New York State does not permit this. Basically, notaries in New York are forbidden from making “statements of fact”. Per the New York County Clerk’s office – “you notarize the signature and do nothing more”. They are quite strict about this regulation. The problem started with notaries “certifying” copies of educational documents. Unfortunately, many of these documents had been “reworked” with a photo editor! The procedure for copies of most documents is for the holder of the document to write a statement that the photocopy is accurate and complete. The New York State rules even regulate what my client may state. Any reference to the validity, certification, or authentic status is forbidden. Such statements are the sole domain of the issuer of the original document, not the current holder of the document.

As a – I have to be mindful of what I notarize. It’s a fine line. While I have no legal responsibility to read the document, it is forbidden for me to notarize certain statements by my clients. Surely this is a catch-22 situation. My inability to “make statements” is occasionally a problem when processing loan packages. Many title companies request the notary to submit a statement that they have “verified” the identity of the persons signing the loan documents. Well, I certainly checked their ID, a requirement to notarize their signatures; but am unable to sign a statement to that affect. Basically, if the notaries signature is the only signature on the page – that is improper (in New York State). We are restricted to using our notary signature to notarize the statement of some other person. “But you are not acting as a notary when you sign my form” – says the title company. Well, that is the reason I am meeting with your client and I am with them on “official notary business” – I can’t just “drop out of my notary status” to sign one page – then back to being a notary to notarize the client’s signature.

Written statements of fact are very similar to verbal statements of fact. Many clients want to save the expense of an attorney and try to use the notary as a legal resource. A wise notary will not say anything that they would not commit to pen and paper and add their signature. I have been asked several times by frantic loan officers to “backdate” documents; a very illegal procedure. My request for them to make their request on letterhead stationary – sign it – and fax it to me; usually puts a rapid end to that request! It’s the same for the notary. I am very well aware of the public perception of as “having legal training and skills”. What is less commonly understood is that the training / skills are limited in practice by relevant State and Local laws. Most notaries can assist in making a proper correction to a typographical error, such as a misspelled name in a document. However, adding or suggesting wording, or in any way helping to create or modify the substance – is forbidden.

Of course, I am not in my notary role every moment of my life. I can write an affidavit – a statement of fact – and have a different notary notarize it if I choose to do so. But, when wearing my “notary hat” – I am very limited as to what I can say or do. The only “statement of fact” that I am able to offer on many occasions is my “opinion” that the client should speak to an attorney.


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Kenneth Edelstein

The only A+ Accredited BBB NYC Notary
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