When To Say “No” During A Signing

At Notary2Pro, we teach notaries all of the practices they should follow to ensure accurate signings and deliver Error-Free Signings. But did you know there are things that you should not do as a notary? Notaries public must adhere to strict guidelines and should be careful to avoid exceeding the bounds of their role.

Here is a list of things notaries should avoid, even if they are asked:

  • Backdating: Notarizing a document with a date before the actual signing.
  • Postdating: Similarly, notaries cannot date a document for a future date.
  • Notarizing Blank Documents: Notarizing a document that’s missing essential information or signatures.
  • Notarizing without Personal Appearance: The signer must be physically present before the notary during the notarization.
  • Using an Expired Commission: Notarizing after their commission has expired.
  • Failing to Verify Identity: Notarizing without satisfactory evidence that the person is indeed who they claim to be.
  • Offering Legal Advice: Notaries cannot provide legal advice or interpretations unless they are also licensed attorneys.
  • Drafting Documents: Preparing legal documents or acting in the capacity of a legal document preparer, unless they are qualified to do so.
  • Omitting the Notarial Act: Failing to include a notarial certificate (acknowledgment, jurat, etc.) when required.
  • Notarizing for Close Relatives: In many states, notaries are prohibited from notarizing documents for immediate family members to avoid conflicts of interest.
  • Financial Interest: Notarizing documents in which they have a financial interest or are a party to the underlying transaction.
  • Charging Excessive Fees: Charging more than the state-allowed fee for notarial services.
  • Not Keeping a Notary Journal: In many states, maintaining a journal of notarial acts is either mandatory or highly recommended.
  • Failure to Secure Notary Equipment: Not properly securing their notary seal and journal from unauthorized use.
  • Performing Notarizations in States Where They Aren’t Commissioned: Notaries are only allowed to perform notarial acts in the state where they are commissioned.
  • Overstepping Boundaries in Certain States: In some states, notaries are restricted from certain acts, like officiating marriages, unless explicitly allowed.
  • Incomplete Notarizations: Notarizing documents without completing the notary statement or seal.
  • Notarizing Documents Containing False Statements: Knowingly notarizing a document that contains false information.

Here is what Notary2Pro Faculty Stephanie Rowland, has on her “just say no” list:

  • If you are not satisfied that the signer is competent, you believe the signer is being coerced or does not understand the consequences of signing the document.
  • The signer is intoxicated, sedated, high or disoriented.
  • The signer wants you to certify a copy of a vital record such as a birth certificate. (Check your state laws)
  • The signer does not speak English and no one is available to translate.
  • You have a financial interest in the notarization.
  • The signer is not present.
  • The document does not have a prepared notarial certificate and the signer cannot decide or tell you what notarial act is required.

In addition to this list, we advise our students to prioritize safety in their work. Here are some points not covered in the guidelines but are equally important:

  • Be safe when accepting jobs outside of your home office. Never put yourself at risk and trust your instincts. Always let someone know where you are going!
  • Do not jeopardize your health. If a home is excessively unclean, or you have allergies to animals in the home, consider taking the signing outside or to another location.
  • Maintain your professional standards. Remember that you are a professional and should be compensated and treated as one. Unless you believe it is a worthwhile investment in building an ongoing relationship, do not accept jobs that do not offer fair compensation.

What are some of the things you say no to? While this list covers many key points, keep in mind that rules and guidelines vary by state. Always familiarize yourself with your state’s laws and regulations, and operate within the correct legal framework.

Want to get started somewhere? Notary2Pro is the answer:

Notary2Pro is the industry’s most respected, recognized, and comprehensive loan signing agent training. Our graduates are the first choice for signing services nationwide because we consistently prepare notaries’ public to be confident and error-free.

We offer lifetime access to our graduate website, one-on-one mentorship, no-fee phone support, the most preferred nationwide certification, and more

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