When the Notary asks: “Do you Swear or Affirm…..”

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When the Notary asks: “Do you Swear or Affirm…..”

It’s a part of every notarization that http://kenneth-a-edelstein.com does. It is a legal requirement in New York State for a notary to give the notary oath. And without a positive reply, it’s improper for me to put my notary seal and signature to the document. It is an unfortunate truth that many notaries do not “bother” with this requirement. They seem to rely on the fact that the affiant signed the document. But that is not enough. The code requires that an oath be given and for the affiant to explicitly respond affirmatively. Obviously, this requires direct communication between the signer of the document and the notary. It sounds so simple, direct, and reasonable; but often leads to difficult situations for all involved.

As the notary is required to communicate the oath to the affiant, they must share a common language. The use of an interpreter in not permitted. Nor can a friend “explain” the issue to the person signing the document. Direct notary to affiant communications is required. Fortunately, here in New York City, there are notaries who speak a wide variety of languages. As an interesting aside, this problem does not exist when I do fingerprinting. When fingerprinting, my responsibility is only to positively determine the identity of the person being fingerprinted; there is no “oath” related to a fingerprint card. Other than a possible difference in language, other issues, some really “judgment calls”, fall on the notary’s shoulders.

Giving an oath is more than me reciting the words and hearing a (possibly pre-rehearsed) reply. I have to feel that there is direct meaningful communications and that the person I am giving the oath to understands what is taking place. Everyone would agree giving a notorial oath to someone who is very drunk, or taking strong judgment impairing medication; is meaningless – far outside the spirit of the law. A more subtle situation is working with the elderly or mentally infirm. It is always my prospective that the person I am “working for” is the person who is signing the documents. It’s my job to assist, and to a great measure to protect them. As a http://newyorkmobilenotarypublic.com I arrive to notarize the document; but only if I feel the process is being done ethically and legally.

I am not a doctor or qualified in judging someone’s mental capability. However, for example: if a Power of Attorney is about to be signed and I ask “why are you signing this document” a reply of “I was told to and do not know what this is all about” is unacceptable. The essence of having a document notarized is comprised of establishing two truths. The first truth is the identity of the person signing the document. The second truth is their statement that the words comprising the document are themselves the truth. A total lack of understanding “what’s going on” – falls way short of being able to swear as to the truthfulness of the document. This does not happen very often, but it does happen. My only option is to suggest to the person wanting the document to be notarized is that they contact an attorney; and that a notary is not the appropriate person to resolve the issue. 


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Harry Norman, REALTORS® - Atlanta, GA
Associate Broker

Good morning Kenneth Edelstein 

Thank you for sharing your information with us.

Have a great day 12/01/2017.

Dec 01, 2017 05:16 AM #1
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Kenneth Edelstein

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