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National Notary Blog

Keeping Up With Your Notary Commission Part II

Notary stamp, embossing seal, and record book requirements vary across states. It is critical for every Notary Public to know his or her state’s specific seal requirements, and adhere to them. The responsible management of your notary seal and record book is an important aspect of “Keeping Up With Your Commission.”

 

Protect yourself by protecting your notary seal.

The notary seal is your symbol of authority and conveys essential information about your commission. The majority of states require your seal to be imprinted with a mechanical device like an ink stamp or a metal embosser. In states that do not require the use of a seal, notaries still elect to use one anyway for ease and convenience.

Stamp, Embosser Storage

Your stamp or embosser must remain under your sole control at all times. Regardless if it’s your supervisor or a close relative, never let anyone else use these tools. Always securely store your stamp or embosser when not in use.

Seal Loss/Theft

If your notary seal device is lost or stolen, report it to your commissioning authority immediately, and in writing. Check with your commissioning authority for specific reporting procedures. In the case of theft, it will also benefit you to file a police report. Reporting your seal device as stolen may provide you a measure of defense should someone use it to perform a fraudulent notarization. After you have notified your state’s commissioning authority, it will be time for you to order another seal from your bonding agency or notary supply provider.

Seal Disposal

When a Notary Public reaches the end of his or her commission term due to expiration or non-renewal, certain measures should be taken to prevent the fraudulent or incorrect use of expired notary supplies. Ink stamps and embossers should never be used after the commission expiration date, and should be destroyed unless your state requires other action (always contact your state’s commissioning authority to determine the most appropriate course of action).

Stay tuned, we will be “Keeping Up” with your notary record book next time!

Common Misconceptions of Notarial Acts

Notarial terminology and phrases can get confusing especially for a first-time notary. To make it easier for notaries joining the business and a refresher for the veteran notaries, we have created a list of terms and their definitions.

common-misconceptions-FL

Notarize a signature: common phrase in the notary business although it often gets misconstrued. Notaries do not witness signatures, but administer an oath, affirmation, or take an acknowledgement.

Notarize a document: another common phrase that is often interpreted wrong. The act of notarizing is actually for the person not the document.

**Although both of these phrases are not technically correct it is okay to use them as long as you and your client know what they mean.

 

Notarial Certificate: The paragraph following the person’s signature. It includes the notaries name, the venue, and a sworn statement. It is not the act but a record of the act.

Oath: a pledge made by a person signifying he or she is responsible for telling the truth. It can be oral or written.

Affirmation: in lace of an oath because of a religious objection or not religious at all. Just like an oath, it can be oral or written and has the same legal impact as an oath. **If an oath or affirmation is false it is an act of perjury which is punishable by the law.

Acknowledgment: declaration that the person has signed the document voluntarily. Of course, everyone gets confused from time to time, so if you feel you need a refresher or are still confused, contact our Customer Care line.

Keeping Up With Your Notary Commission Part 1

The performance of notarial acts is just one aspect of a Notary Public’s commission.

Notaries have a legal and professional responsibility to “keep up” with their commission status and notary tools. Changes in personal information, criminal history, or eligibility to hold office are all details that must be reported. Similarly, official tools of office such as a Notary’s stamp, embosser or recordbook must be safeguarded and loss of these items must also be reported. Some states even require that a deceased Notary’s survivors or designated agent perform ministerial tasks such as destroying the Notary’s official seal or filing the Notary’s records with the commissioning official.

In this multi-part series, we will be “keeping up” with your role as a Notary Public by discussing the various obligations that your commission consists of, starting with:

Reporting Personal Information Changes

Changes in personal information must be reported to your state’s Notary Public Administrator or official who manages Notary records. Also, do not forget to notify your bonding agency as well. Many states have notary laws and administrative rules in place that specify whether or not a Notary must report changes in personal information.

Notaries can learn about their state’s specific laws and rules by contacting their commissioning official. Most all maintain an information-rich web site with helpful resources for notaries. Changes are generally reported through form submissions. Many states post their forms online or have a completely online reporting process. Did we mention, do not forget to notify your bonding agency?

What Types of Status Changes Must Typically Be Reported?

Any change to your contact information such as your mailing address, your business address, or your telephone number should be immediately reported to your state’s official who maintains notary records. If you were to move out of state and no longer meet the eligibility requirements for being a notary, then you must notify your commissioning official and resign your commission.

In terms of your legal name change, state requirements vary, and some states even have a timeframe within which you must take action. Again, check your state laws and rules for specific instructions.

Stay tuned for more on “Keeping Up” with your notary commission!

What Is A Notarial Certificate?

Your notarization of a document is not complete without a proper notarial certificate.

The notarial certificate is a written statement, signed and sealed by the notary public, certifying the facts of a notarial act. The two most common notarial acts a notary will be asked to perform are administering oaths and taking acknowledgements. Oaths and acknowledgements are two different notarial acts, therefore each will require its own certificate wording. Always check with your state’s commissioning authority to make sure you use acceptable notarial language.

 

Jurat Certificate

A jurat is a notary’s certification that he or she administered an oath or affirmation to the signer, whose signature was made in the notary’s presence. The purpose of a jurat is for a signer to swear to or affirm the truthfulness of a document’s contents. In order for a jurat to be correctly executed, the signer must sign the document in front of the notary. Documents that typically require oaths or affirmations are applications, affidavits, or any sworn statement in which the signer sets forth certain facts in writing.

 

Acknowledgement Certificate

An acknowledgement is a declaration that the signer understands the contents of the document, has signed the document, and consents to the terms and conditions stated in the document. The acknowledgment certificate is the Notary’s certification of the details of this notarial act. The signer may either sign the document prior to appearing before a notary, or in the notary’s presence. In either instance, the signer must acknowledge signing the document for its intended purpose. Acknowledgements are typically required for contracts, powers of attorney, or any type of document where a person has to agree to some particular terms of the document.

 

No Notarial Certificate

You cannot proceed with notarization unless the appropriate notarial wording is present on the document. As the notary, you are prohibited from choosing the notarial act. This choice is the signer’s to make and you may not give advice. Instead you may provide sample notarial language for a jurat and an acknowledgement, and explain the differences between these notarial acts. Once the signer has chosen the notarial act, the notary may add the appropriate notarial certificate. Notarial wording that is added to the document may be typed or written directly on the face of the document, below the signer’s signature. As an option to handwriting a certificate, certificate stamps and loose certificates are fast, convenient ways to add proper notarial language to a document.

Conflicts of interest during notarization

Conflicts of interest

Notaries are trusted to be unbiased and impartial in every notarial act they perform. Conflicts of interest can occur when a Notary has additional interests such as gaining a financial or material benefit from the transaction. A Notary acting out of self-interest can compromise trust in the notarial act, and raise questions about the transaction. They can also be held financially responsible for damages.

 

When might a conflict of interest occur?

 

  • When the Notary is a named party in the document.
  • When the Notary stands to benefit either financially or materially.

 

Conflict of interest can also occur when notaries are asked to notarize for family members. Some states have specific statutes that prohibit the Notary from officiating for certain relatives, while others are less explicit in addressing these circumstances. Generally, a notary should refrain from notarizing for family members, to avoid any questions about impartiality.

 

Avoiding conflicts of interest will ensure that you are appropriately conducting your notary business. By remaining an impartial party to all notarial transactions you are protecting the public and yourself.

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