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Notary Public Underwriters Blog

Montana Frequently Asked Questions

Montana Frequently Asked Questions

 

Are notaries licensed like other professionals? 

No. Notaries are public officers and are appointed and commissioned by the Governor with the assistance of the Secretary of State.

 

What is the purpose of a notary public? 

A notary public is a person of integrity who is appointed to act as an impartial witness to the signing of an important transaction and to perform a notarial act, which validates the transaction. A notary’s primary purpose is to prevent fraud and forgery by requiring the personal presence of the signer and satisfactorily identifying the signer.

 

What do I do if my order has not shown up on time? 

Please contact Notary Public Underwriters of Montana.

 

When can I expect to receive my purchase? 

Generally, you can expect your purchase to arrive within 5 to 7 business days. However, please allow up to 12 business days for any carrier delays.

 

How do I pay for my order? 

At the moment, Notary Public Underwriters of Montana accepts Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover credit cards. We also accept check and money orders by mail.

 

May I cancel or change my order? 

This will depend on how far down the process your order has gone. We try to get orders processed as soon as we can, so if your order is listed as “shipped” on your account page it is too late to edit or cancel. If you think you have made a mistake with your order, please contact customer service. We will see if there is something we can do to help.

 

Can I get a refund? 

Please contact customer service if you are not happy with your order. Once we know what the problem is, we will let you know how we can help.

 

Will you share my contact information with others?

Absolutely not. For more information, please read our Privacy Policy.

 

How do I become a Montana Notary Public? 

Notary Public Underwriters makes applying to become a Montana Notary Public easy! Simply go to our Become a Notary page and follow the instructions to fill out the application.

 

How do I renew my Montana notary commission? 

Simply go to our Renew Commission Page and follow the instructions to renew your notary commission.

Can I be MT notary if I have a criminal record? 

As long as you are not a convicted felon and have not had a notary commission revoked in Montana or another state, you are welcome to apply to become a Notary Public.

 

When should I renew my MT notary commission

It is best to apply at least 30 days before the expiration date for your notary commission. This allows ample time for processing. If you have any questions about the process to renew your commission, please contact our friendly Customer Service Representatives at 1.888.826.9271.

 

Is there an age requirement to become a MT notary? 

The age of requirement to become a Montana Notary Public is 18.

 

What is a notary bond? 

The notary bond is a type of surety bond issued by an approved surety company to protect the public against any wrongdoing on the part of the notary. The surety company guarantees to the public that you, as a notary public, will perform your duties in accordance with the law, and if you do not, the company will pay any damages caused by the incorrect notarization up to the amount of the bond.

 

What type of notary seal is required? 

The official seal for Montana notaries is the rubber stamp. The stamp must contain four elements: the phrase “Notary Public-State of Montana,” your exact commission name, your notary commission number, and the expiration date of your commission. The seal must be affixed with black ink that is photographically reproducible.

 

May I use the Great Seal of Montana on my stamp? 

No. Notaries are prohibited from using the state seal.

 

What do I do if my seal is lost or stolen? 

If your seal is lost, stolen or in the possession of another person, you must notify the Secretary of State immediately. Send or deliver a written letter to the Secretary of State regarding the lost or stolen seal, including the last time you used or had your notary seal in your possession.

 

Do I have any liability as a notary? 

Yes. The public counts on notaries to perform their duties properly. By making an error on a notarization, you could cause someone to lose their property or be responsible for a multi-million dollar transaction being voided. As a result, a court could find you liable for the loss and enter a judgment against you. Most bond companies demand repayment if they pay a claim against you. In addition, whatever your bond does not pay, you would be liable for.

 

How do I limit my liability? 

Know and follow Montana’s notary laws, take responsibility for your own notary education, keep informed about law changes, never make any exceptions for anyone, use reasonable care and common sense in performing your duties, carry errors & omissions insurance and keep a record book.

 

Am I required to keep a record of my notarial acts?

Yes. Montana law requires you keep a permanently bound journal of notarial acts with page numbers, except for notarial acts connected with judicial proceedings, and those for whose public record the law provides and the public record is publicly filed within 90 days of execution. The following information should be recorded at the very least:

-The month, day and year of the notarial act;
-The type of notarial act performed;
-The type of document notarized;
-The name, address and signature of each person whose signature was notarized;
-The type of identification used to identify the signers;
-The fee charged for the notarization;
-Any special notes or comments about the notarization.

The Notary Public record book published by Notary Public Underwriters Agency meets Montana law requirements. Be sure to include this item on your order form with your application, contact us directly to order at (888) 826-9271 or purchase online through our Supplies section.

 

Why should I keep a record book? 

Record books are an inexpensive way to keep a record of every notarization you perform. There are several advantages, including:

--A record book can serve as a reminder of the steps of notarization.
--A record book may protect you against a claim of negligence or impropriety.
--A record book may help prove you notarized a document when there is a question about your signature or when the notarial certificate is destroyed or marred in some way.
--A record book can refresh your memory about a notarization you do not recall.
--A record book is reliable as evidence in court if you have to testify about a notarization.
--A record book not only protects you, but may also protect your customer and your employer.

 

What must I do if I change my address? 

You must notify the Secretary of State in writing of any change in your residence or business address or telephone number within 60 days of the change. Do not forget to notify Notary Public Underwriters, so we can stay in touch with you.

 

Do I notify the state of a name change? 

Yes. Montana law requires you to obtain an amended commission within 60 days of the change of your legal name. If Notary Public Underwriters is your bond agency, please request a name change application form. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions.

 

What does it mean to "notarize a signature"? 

“Notarize a signature” is a generic phrase used when administering an oath or taking an acknowledgment, the two most common notarial acts.

 

How do I administer an oath for a document? 

Assuming the document is ready for notarization and the signer has been satisfactorily identified and is willing to sign the document, you administer the oath by asking a simple question, “Do you solemnly swear the information contained in this document is the truth, so help you God?” For an oath, you must witness the person signing the document.

 

What do I do if a signer objects due to religion? 

A legal alternative to an oath is an affirmation. Ask the question: “Do you solemnly affirm under the penalties of perjury the information contained in this document is the truth?”

 

How do I take an acknowledgment? 

Assuming the document is ready for notarization and the signer has been satisfactorily identified and is willing to sign the document, you take the signer’s acknowledgement by asking a simple question: “Do you acknowledge and declare this is your signature, you understand this document, and you willingly signed the document for the purposes stated herein?”

 

What are the steps for performing a notarization? 

Follow these general steps for every notarization you perform:

1. Require the personal appearance of the document signer. Never make an exception!
2. Examine the document to ensure it is complete and contains a properly formatted notarial certificate.
3. Identify the signer, either through your personal acquaintance of the individual or some type of satisfactory evidence, such as a valid driver’s license, passport or another form of acceptable identification listed in the notary law.
4. Enter the transaction into your record book. Although the law does not require it, the Governor’s Office recommends you keep an official record of all your notarial acts.
5. Perform the notarization ceremony. You must communicate verbally with the signer to perform the notarial act. The person usually signs the document at this point.
6. Complete the notarial certificate. Make sure the information is correct and complete. Do not forget to sign and seal the certificate.

 

What is the venue? 

"State of Montana, County of ________"

This notation is called the venue. It is the location of the notarization - not the county where you live or work.

 

May I notarize the signature of a blind person? 

Yes. But only if you first read the document to the person and you feel sure about the person’s understanding and willingness to sign

 

May I notarize my own signature? 

No. Notarizing your own signature violates the requirement for impartiality. Violation of this prohibition is a felony crime.

 

Can I perform a notarization for a family member? 

Montana law states you may not notarize for certain family members: spouse, son, daughter, mother, or father. However, most notary authorities agree notaries must NOT notarize for any of their family member. You would compromise your role as an impartial witness and may jeopardize the validity of an important transaction.

 

May I perform a notarization when I am a party? 

No. If you are a party to the transaction or if you have a financial interest in the transaction, you may NOT be the notary for this transaction. You would not be impartial, and the transaction could be deemed unlawful or unenforceable.

 

May I assist a client with legal documents? 

No, not unless you are an attorney licensed to practice law in Montana. Furthermore, you may not explain the contents of a document or give any advice about the document. If you do, you may be found guilty of the unauthorized practice of law.

 

May I help a friend fill out immigration papers? 

No. Only attorneys or qualified immigration specialists may perform these duties.

 

Can I notarize a photograph? 

No. This is not an authorized duty of a notary. An alternative would be to notarize the signature of a person who is willing to certify the authenticity of the photograph in a sworn statement.

 

What happens if a notarization has cost me money? 

You may file a claim against the notary's bond.

 

How do I file a claim against a notary's bond? 

A bond is required by the State to be available in order to compensate any individual harmed as a result of a breach of duty by the notary. Individuals harmed can file a claim against the notaries bond for financial damage.

Claims may occur due to signatures which are forged, incomplete or otherwise defective in real estate transactions, motor vehicle transfers and cases where the validity or date of a document may be an issue.

In order to file a claim against a notary bonded through our company you will need to submit the following:

Copy of improperly notarized document
Proof of error or fraud by notary
Letter stating amount of financial damage or loss caused by the notarization
Please send the above information to:

Claims Department
Notary Public Underwriters
P.O. Box 4958
Helena, Montana 59604-4958

Or fax to:
877-856-1663
Attn: Claims Department

For all questions regarding the status of your filed claim, please contact CNA Surety at 800.331.6053.

 

Who do I contact to check on the status of a claim 

For all questions regarding the status of your filed claim, please contact CNA Surety at 800.331.6053.