- Notarization 101
Notarization 101 what you need to Know
I have often in my blog lamented partial notarizations, especially when the notary only stamps and signs the document. This installment from http://kenneth-a-edelstein.com will cover in detail the proper format for a notarization done in New York State. Procedures and rules will vary from state to state, but most of the essentials are probably the same. I will cover the format from the top down, as it should appear on the page. Minor variations are acceptable; the definitive rules from New York State are available on the Notary Laws and procedures page of my web site.
Generally at the beginning of the document is the Venue, it may also appear later at the start of the notary section. The venue tells the location where the notarization was performed. It has nothing to do with the property address, as in the case of a mortgage. It is “related” to the notary’s stamp – more on that later. The Venue usually consists of two lines. The first, for me, is “State of New York”, as I can only notarize in New York State. The second is “County of ____” – this is the county where the document was signed and the oath was given. Both entries are required and often overlooked. Next, generally, is the body of the document which may be a mortgage, power of attorney or affidavit. At the end of the body of the document is the signature of the affiant. It’s a best practice to have the name printed under the signature line.
After the body of the document is the “Notary Section” – the venue may be here if not at the start of the document. After the venue is the statement by the notary. It tells what type of service the notary provided. The two main services are “Sworn to and subscribed before me” and “This instrument was Acknowledged before me”. In the former, the notary is saying that (s)he actually witnessed the signature. In the latter, the notary is saying that (s)he asked the affiant if (s)he signed the document and received a positive reply. Of course, in both cases, the affiant is required to show positive identification. The notary should add the name of the affiant and the date to whichever format, described above, is used.
After the notary statement is the signature of the notary. There is usually an area for “My Commission expires __________”, whereby the notary states the end date of the current notary commission. In New York State, all entries by the notary are required to be in black ink. After the signature, the notary will stamp their information. That stamp has their name, the statement “Notary Public, State of New York”, their commission number, the county where the notary is qualified and their commission expiration date. It’s required for the notary to use an embosser when a document might be used in a Federal Court, a different state, out of the country, or is required by the Uniform Commercial Code. As a http://newyorkmobilenotarypublic.com I consider it a best practice to always emboss every notarization I perform. [COMMENT]
- Birth Certificate New York City
New York City has The Hardest Birth Certificate to Obtain
It would probably be easier to take bars of gold out of Fort Knox. For me, representing you as a New York Mobile Notary Public to quickly obtain your New York Birth Certificate requires your exacting attention to detail. First, and this must be very clearly understood: Only the “short form” that does Not qualify for an Apostille is delivered “over the counter”. The “long form” – the one with the Letter of Exemplification is Only sent by mail. I will relate the difficulty by retelling events that occurred today. The lady needed her NYC birth certificate in a hurry, or she would forfeit a prepaid vacation cruise.
I ask my clients to very carefully prepare a shipment to me with the necessary: signed application form, notarized permission form, signed copy of ID, and shipping information including phone number; required for the airbill. I always caution clients that all signatures must match exactly, repeat exactly, the signature that appears on the copy of ID. However, my client did not sign correctly on the notarized authorization and the application was refused. But only partially! I also ask for 2 “official documents” showing the client’s address. What qualifies are phone bills, electric bills, bank statements, etc. One of her document was over 60 days old and it was also rejected! It took a while – but she managed to FAX to the Bureau of Vital Records a new and more current document. Finally her Birth Certificate was printed and put in the pre-addressed FedEx envelope – but it would not be handed to me, they said they would ship it that day.
Ken Edelstein has processed many requests for NYC Birth Certificates. But, none was from a more frantic and tearful client. She was literally sobbing at the initial rejection; and it took my Psychology background to calm her down, and get the project back on track. The Birth Certificate office is a very busy place – at all hours. Waits in line to get to the window are literally measured in hours. There is no shortcut if you need same day service. A practical alternative is the on-line service called Vital Check; but results don’t arrive for a few weeks. Note that Vital Check is the best alternative if Apostille processing is necessary. If you need the Letter of Exemplification, be sure to select “Apostille” when asked for the “use” or “purpose” of your request.
As your agent with your notarized letter of authorization, I face an extra processing delay. With the assumption that your signature on that document Exactly matches your signature on the copy of the ID you submitted; they do some additional checking. They then contact the licensing authority for the notary on your letter of authorization to verify that the signature and commission of the notary you used are valid! More delay, and much more time in a chaotic and noisy office with many people upset at the long wait; and some Really upset at having their application rejected. So, be forewarned – each and every item I mention for you to prepare is vital to the acceptance of the request I submit on your behalf. I try to “get it in hand” so I can ship it myself, but if all the paperwork is not perfect, especially your signature on the notarized form matching Exactly the signature on the copy of your photo ID – often the only option is to depend on them to ship; and hope that they get it out the same day. [COMMENT]
Get the right Apostille
An Apostille is basically an addition to a notarized (or officially issued) document – to make the item acceptable in countries other than the country of issue. The Apostille bearing document is generally of a “personal” nature; as opposed to business documents. Personal documents include Birth, Death, Marriage, and Divorce certificates. Also considered personal are affidavits, statements of fact; created by individuals for various purposes. Business documents include, but are certainly not limited to: Statements of Incorporation, business contracts, and powers of attorney for business transactions. A personal power of attorney is generally considered a personal document. As a New York Mobile Notary Public – I process both types.
Personal documents for use outside the USA generally only require an Apostille. Business documents generally require Legalization at Consulate or Embassy. Article 12 of The Hague, regarding the international use of documents – is specifically for personal documents. That agreement among nations was intended to reduce the need for the more costly and time consuming Legalization procedure. However, often a step in the Legalization procedure is obtaining an Apostille prior to bringing the document to the Embassy or Consulate.
There are two “types” of Apostilles issued. For signatory nations to Article 12, the document issued is titled “Apostille”. For non-signatory nations; China and Canada are examples, the document issued is titled “Certification”. Both the “Apostille” and the “Certification” are loosely referred to as being an “Apostille”. They serve the same function precisely. However, the word “Apostille” at the top of the page is only intended for use in signatory nations. Signatory nations both issue and receive the “Apostille” at the top of the page. Non-signatory nations issue and receive the word “Certification” at the top of the page. It’s a minor technicality, but the proper format is necessary for acceptance by the target country of use.
Kenneth A Edelstein has obtained, over the past decade, thousands of each type. Now you understand why I must ask “What is the target country of use”. The Department of State – prior to issuing the “Apostille” asks the same question. Based on the answer, they look up the “signatory status” – and issue the appropriate format. Note that although there are two formats – each format is not tied to a specific country. An “Apostille” bearing document is acceptable in England or Italy; but not intended for use in Canada or China. The reverse is also true. A “Certification” bearing document is not intended for England or Italy; but is right for Canada or China. If you tell me the correct country of use; you may get an “Apostille”, or you may get a “Certification”. Both formats function in exactly the same manner. [COMMENT]
- Why me as your Mobile Notary Public
Why you do not need me as your Mobile Notary Public
You have a sense of adventure and a longing for travel. You like to visit banks and pharmacies hunting for the elusive Notary Public. Similar to a Postal Worker, neither wind, nor rain, nor gloom of night deters you from your quest. You know they are “out there” somewhere – and feel they eagerly await your arrival and documents. You have heard stories about how selective the bank’s notaries can be; having strict instructions from their employer about what to not process. Ever confident in your personal charm, you are certain that, no matter how many or what they are; the local notary once found is certain to process your documents.
You are aware there has to be a difference in the skills of a professional, such as the service provided by Kenneth A. Edelstein compared to a part time practitioner. However, you’re feeling lucky – and have confidence that the harried bank clerk or pharmacist will do what you need – correctly. As an alternative you are considering calling your sister’s cousin’s aunt. She was a notary many years ago, and perhaps she has maintained her commission and will graciously invite you over; you do recall that she made the most wonderful chocolate chip cookies. You’re not a very private person; it really does not matter to you that your notary co-worker learns about your plans for cryogenic storage, so you can be awakened sometime in the future when your ailment can be cured.
You have lots of time on your hands. Sure, it might take you an hour or two to actually find a notary; but you really don’t have anything better to do. Some exercise walking the streets will do you a world of good and you get a chance to see the neighborhood and meet the shopkeepers. Having a high tolerance for rejection, the constant deferrals: “The notary is not in now”, “This is not the best time”, “I don’t handle that type of document”, “It’s in Bulgarian – so I can’t notarize it”; are seen as challenges to overcome.
It’s a point of pride with you to get the absolute lowest price in every transaction. You have heard that the County Clerk’s in New York State notarize for free as a public service. The time and expense of using the subway, bus or car; are to be ignored. The same applies to the metal detector’s line, and the line for notary services. You are willing to go several times as you are aware they limit the quantity per person. The goal of lowest price is irresistible – you research becoming a notary and doing it for yourself; but become dismayed when you learn that such activity is illegal. Ignoring your cell minutes, you call three dozen mobile notary services – to find a free one. Eventually you find the New York Mobile Notary Public web site and learn about the pitfalls and dangers of improper notarizations. You begin to see the light and think about the ramifications of your document being processed improperly. [COMMENT]
- The Notary brought Flowers
The Notary brought Flowers
Everyone who deals with the public runs into strange situations, notaries are not an exception. Naturally, the names are omitted; but the events are accurately portrayed. I get a call from a young lady lawyer with an estate settlement “holdup”. One of the witnesses to the signing of the 12 year old will was notarized improperly. The Probate Court is insisting on a notarized statement from that witness; in effect – re-notarizing her signature. Of course the notarization date is “in the present” – but the witness, alas “doesn’t want to be bothered”.
Not being an attorney, I don’t know the ins and outs of proper protocol in “encouraging” a witness to permit re-notarization. I left those details to my client, the lady lawyer. She sent the witness two expensive bottles of Kosher wine. http://kenneth-a-edelstein.com would have liked them as my fee! They arrived the night prior to my appointment to meet with the elusive witness. Naturally, I made sure she was sober and able to understand both the affidavit and my notary oath. But I am getting a bit ahead of myself. When I met with the lady lawyer (my client) she handed me two dozen roses to deliver to the reticent affiant.
Prior to my involvement in this “case” – both the lady lawyer and the witness had exchanged some unpleasant words. “You have to go see her without me”, said the attorney – handing me the roses for the witness. I told the attorney that I would be making my “dual roles” quite clear to the witness. When the witness answered the door, I said I was both a “flower delivery person” and a notary public! As a http://newyorkmobilenotarypublic.com that certainly was a first. The witness, somewhat bemused, with the two bottles of Kosher wine on her table from last night’s delivery; invited me in. “Let’s get this silly thing over as quickly as possible”, she requested as she handed me her driver’s license.
The witness reads the affidavit, signs it and answers positive to my notary oath. Mission accomplished! While the affiant arranges the roses in a suitable container – I complete the notary section, using both stamp and embosser. I double check the document very carefully, mindful that this visit cost my client wine, flowers and my fee. All is in order, no possibility of the slightest flaw. I thank the witness for her time and leave with the notarized document. The lady lawyer is munching on a bagel at the corner café. She practically cheers when I signal “thumbs up” when I spot her. “Have some breakfast and tell me all about it”, she insists. There was little to tell – the notarization went smoothly. The only “odd” part was the reason for the affiant’s hurry. She said her dog had a “past due” appointment with a fire hydrant!
- Identity Theft and your Notary
Identity Theft and your Notary
Notaries process a great number of personal documents. It is rare for the notary to have a need to read your document. The notary is there to notarize the signature. However, some documents require examination by the notary. One example is with vital records (birth, marriage, divorce and death certificates), when it is the notary who is making a statement about a copy. Some states allow the notary to certify a copy; some, such as New York, do not. As a http://newyorkmobilenotarypublic.com – I do not read client documents, unless legally necessary or to verify that a document is suitable for further processing – as in the case of obtaining an Apostille.
But, sometimes the notary receives a large email of documents, loan documents are the classic case. If the document signing does not take place – what is the disposition of the paperwork. I generally return ship (if permitted) all unused documents to the sender. Often they will request I shred them. As part of my notary equipment, I have a rather large and powerful “crosscut” shredder which reduces paper to confetti – impossible to reconstruct. Check the notary’s web site carefully. Do they provide a name and exact address, or do they omit telling you who they are and their address? My site provides a great amount of information about me; in addition to useful information related to the functions and procedures relating to various aspects of notary processing.
http://kenneth-a-edelstein.com has occasionally received calls from title companies asking if I have a “file copy” of the signed mortgage; because they somehow misplaced their copy. Sorry, I do not maintain copies of any documents that I process. You should also take precautions regarding security of your documents. Never throw personal documents in the trash without shredding them. “Mining” the trash can is a favorite source for identity thieves – as a minimum makes sure any sensitive information is obliterated. In New York State, notaries are sworn and commissioned officers of the state, who must follow strict rules. However, there are few rules regarding proper processing of client information. Study web sites carefully – when in doubt call and speak to the person in charge; prior to entering personal information. It’s vital that your personal information be treated with respect and a high degree of confidentiality. [COMMENT]
- Danger of using the Office Notary
There are three main ways of having something notarized. The most common is to seek a notary at the bank or pharmacy. Often, the bank notary will refuse to notarize some of the more complex documents – under instructions from the bank, to avoid possibility of litigation. Calling a http://newyorkmobilenotarypublic.com is the safest; as a professional is equipped with training and supplies to handle any situation. However, a mobile notary will have a higher fee than the notary at the bank; as they travel to your location. An additional alternative is, if there is a notary working in the office; to seek out the “office notary”.
The office notary always has higher priority job functions, and generally has been “drafted” by management to become a notary for the firm’s convenience. Many of my regular corporate clients call me when “the office notary” is on vacation or out sick. Sometimes, I am called in when the “office notary” is present, but the complexity of the work requires professional notary processing. Thus, I am often able to meet with the “office notary” and talk “shop”. More often than not, the “office notary” relates to me “pressure” situations that develop in the office environment on a regular basis.
Generally the “office notary” has all fees and supplies paid for by the company. This leads to the problem that the firm often thinks of the notary “seal” as corporate property. In real life, this leads to documents being signed away from the notary; then they are sent “interoffice” for notarization. As a professional, http://kenneth-a-edelstein.com will refuse an improper request. But it’s not so simple for an office worker to decline to notarize – when the signature on the document is the same signature that is on their paycheck.
“Our CEO had to leave on an emergency, this document has to be filed today; he signed it moments ago and it needs to be notarized”. What do you think the “office notary” will do? Even if it’s “just once” – it’s bound to happen eventually. That “one time” is a ticking time bomb. If that notary ever is questioned in a courtroom, “have you ever notarized a document without meeting with the person who signed it; remember you are under oath” – the answer puts all other notarizations in doubt. Companies should allow the “office notary” to follow the letter of the law, without exception. However, in conversations with me; that is not the corporate reality. [COMMENT]
- Get a “Bottom Line” Mobile Notary Fee
“Are there any other fees or charges?” is a common question when I quote a price for my mobile notary, fingerprinting, or Apostille/Legalization services. My standard reply is “I don’t like to get or to give surprises”. It seems that some notaries are advertising in a “bait and switch” manner, adding fees and surcharges to a low starting number. I consider that deceptive. When I quote a price for services, based on your stated requirements, that’s the price – unless the requirements change. I am one of the very few A+ rated notaries with the Better Business Bureau of New York, (I know of no other). http://kenneth-a-edelstein.com is dedicated to the highest standards of ethics and I maintain a very pro-consumer business policy.
Some are very creative with the “add ons”. I receive regular feedback from many clients about the “games” some play. Sometimes it’s humorous, “that is outside of my basic area”, my new client was told. “What is the basic area”, they asked. Silence, was the reply! Another common deception is to “not mention” that the return delivery of the Apostille incurs an additional “trip” fee, or having a high premium for same day service. I appreciate clients meeting me at the time scheduled, but I don’t charge a dollar a minute for a short wait, as some others do. It is my standard policy to suggest a duplicate, where practical, also be notarized; an official, original, backup copy. I make no additional charge and routinely request my client to have a copy ready for me to also notarize. It takes me little extra time to process and adds value to my visit.
As a http://newyorkmobilenotarypublic.com I meet many people. The vast majority are very honest. However, most are New Yorkers’ and tend to be wary of new business relationships. They are my most favorite prospective new clients. I invite them to compare my web site with the various alternatives. Most other sites give very little, if any, information about the key person, the notary who will actually be going to you. My site gives my real name, home address, and a host of “clickable” verifiable links, to a variety of information about me. I also provide, in place of hammering, mind numbing, sales pitches; a variety of useful information. I do the same with phone calls; stopping at the point where I am being asked for “legal advice”. I am not an attorney, and not qualified, or permitted, to give legal advice.
It’s always wise to ask, very firmly, for the “bottom line”; the “what must I pay” amount. Ask if there are any additional charges whatsoever. Of course, you must describe the job accurately. I have arrived at a “just one item to notarize” and been presented 17 “copies” – to also notarize. Be aware that the majority of the mobile notary’s time is spent in transit. I might be at your location for only ten minutes, but it can take over an hour to get to you. If you make many calls and ask “How much is a Notary?”, I can almost guarantee you that the lowest response will never be what you are asked to pay. There is also the issue of quality. Quality of service can vary from the professional service with proper supplies to handle virtually any situation. Ask about a variety of forms, sizes of notary stamps, embossers, a FedEx account, an on-line credit card acceptance (to keep your credit card information secure), etc. At the other end of the scale is the disorganized amateur, with a last 2 digits of the year shaved off, worn out stamp – and who, upon their (late) arrival, will ask to borrow your pen!
- Bank Notary Refused because I am not a Customer
That is not only rude, impolite and bad business; it’s also illegal. On my web site there is a link for Notary Laws and Procedures. At http://newyorkmobilenotarypublic.com that link leads to a direct link to the official notary law for New York State. Under Section 195 “Official Misconduct” which is defined as a “Class A Misdemeanor” it states: Notary must officiate on request.
The Penal Law (§195.00) provides that an officer before whom an oath or affidavit may be taken is bound to administer the same when requested, and a refusal to do so is a misdemeanor.
Thus, it is illegal for a Notary Public to refuse to notarize a document when requested. There are some practical limitations to the requirement. You certainly cannot demand entrance to a private residence to see a notary; no rule requires that the notary permit you into their home. It is generally viewed as applicable to “places of public accommodation”, such as a bank, law office, or pharmacy. You probably would not be able to disrupt someone’s lunch break. But the flat out refusal because you are not a “customer” is totally improper. If you run into this situation; print out a copy of the law from my site, and remind the reticent notary that they took an oath to uphold the notary laws of New York State – and criminal penalties apply to lawbreakers.
There is a practical side to public places. You generally have to wait your turn, sometimes in a very long line. “Walk In” notaries are not always available at your convenience. Some are only available on certain days and / or times of the day. Their primary job certainly takes precedence over their secondary accommodation of providing notary services. It’s a good idea for you to find out what day / time the “walk in” notary will be available. When http://kenneth-a-edelstein.com goes to you – at the place and time that suits you best; there is absolutely no wait. In fact, generally arriving a few minutes early, I check my email while waiting for you to become available. If you arrive with a complete “loan package” and require 43 notarizations; I doubt if you would be accommodated. Even the New York County Clerk will not process a large number of notarizations for an individual – it is too disruptive to the others waiting on line for service. It’s different when you have an appointment and the notary can allocate sufficient time for your processing.
There are some gray areas related to what a notary will process. Some notaries refuse to do Powers of Attorney, or documents in a Foreign Language. Banks typically refuse both. The former, they see as an exposure of the bank to possible litigation. The latter, I can only guess, is fear of the unknown. There is no legal requirement for me to be able to read the document. I only need to be able to administer the notary oath to the person signing in English, the only language I know. It is not permitted to administer the oath via an interpreter. There are probably other “cases” – but the general law is inflexible. The notary must accommodate your request as long as it is, in the notary’s opinion lawful. That includes proper date, lack of blank spaces, proper ID, etc. [COMMENT]
- Notarizing Foreign Language Documents
“The bank refused to notarize the document because it is written in Hungarian”
Said the exasperated client to me. “No Problem” for Kenneth A. Edelstein was my reply. There is no requirement for the notary to be able to read the document, none whatsoever. Consider a 765 page document regarding the sale of a Supertanker – do you think the notary will read it prior to notarizing the signature on the last page? Well, if they are not going to read all pages of all documents – why would they want to be able to read some pages of some documents? I doubt if I will ever know.
There are some interesting considerations regarding languages involved in the notarization process. But none have anything to do with the actual document. The main language requirements are related to the required oath given by the notary. The notary must be able to give the oath directly (no interpreter allowed) to the person whose signature will be notarized. The person signing must be able to read the document in order to swear/affirm that the document is truthful/correct. That is the relevant language consideration – the document could be in Braille or Latvian – it does not matter to me.
Part of some notaries’ refusal to handle this situation is their employer’s desire to avoid the possibility of being involved in a lawsuit. Some banks will not notarize a Power of Attorney, some refuse a Bill of Sale – the reasons are the same; avoiding being involved in litigation. If the notary can’t read any of the document it “might” be a prohibited (by “bank” policy) – thus all “unreadable” documents are often refused. At New York Mobile Notary Public that is never the case. While the notary has no requirement to read the document – if – at a glance – the document is “improper” – for example a contract to commit a crime; all notaries should refuse to notarize. However, there is NO requirement for the notary to determine that the document is lawful.
It is a “best practice” to prepare foreign language documents in both languages. Most times this is done by formatting the document into two columns with English on one side and the other language on the other. One advantage of doing this is that it allows the affiant to sign twice. The signature on the English side will be compared to their ID – the other language is not. Thus, it is the English signature that is being notarized – and most ID documents in this country have English signatures. However, I personally would accept a Chinese signature if it matched the signature on a Chinese passport and the picture of the passport holder looked like the person signing the document in front of me. [COMMENT]