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Notary Bulletin

Living Trusts And Mentors: How One Notary Found A New Way To Make Money

Shelly-Kitchen-resized.jpgWhen Fresno signing agent and business owner Shelly Kitchen saw her loan signing assignments go from 25 to 35 a week to about 10 a month, she wasn’t surprised — it’s a reality of the cyclical mortgage industry, after all. Still, she knew she had to find ways to diversify her Notary business in order to keep afloat. That’s when she discovered the value of having relationships with other Notaries in her area.

Looking for some guidance, she turned toNotary mentor and colleague Laura Biewer, who introduced her to a lucrative revenue stream notarizing living trusts and referred her to a company that hires Notaries for these assignments.

A living trust is a legal estate-planning document detailing exactly what the grantor wants done with his estate, assets, healthcare and legal affairs, both after, and in some cases, during, his lifetime, should he become incapacitated.

Living trust signing appointments typically take two to three hours — longer than most loan signings by a couple hours — and can include heaps of paperwork.

The company Kitchen was referred to provided her comprehensive over-the-phone training and scripts to follow. She also studied sample trusts and accompanied Biewer on signings to see how they were done. “Mistakes might not be discovered for years, and might come back to bite you,” says Kitchen, who triple-checks every document.

“I remind signers of everything they will need when first making the appointment, then I call them on the day of the appointment to remind them again,” says Kitchen, explaining that elderly signers can sometimes require extra time and patience.

Ensuring signers are aware of what they are signing is paramount when it comes to end-of-life documents or those requiring powers of attorney. That sometimes means speaking a little slower and a little louder, should elderly signers require it.

“Talking about death is comfortable for me,” says Kitchen, who often draws upon her past job experience as a funeral arrangement planner. “I tell my signers that this is the time when you want to discuss these issues, when you are healthy and happy.”

“Whether you are delivering a loan document or a living trust, the experience should be a happy one,” says Kitchen, whose humor and positive attitude have helped her build lasting client relationships. “They’ve generally already talked to the lawyers or bankers and have done all the hard work. I’m just the final step in the process. Why not make it a happy one?”

Kitchen’s ample training, attention to detail, and overall positive attitude — along with the helpful nudge from Laura Biewer — have all helped her to expand her long-standing Notary business. “I sent Laura a thank you gift,” says Kitchen, who continues to pay it forward by mentoring others in the field.

Kelle Clarke is a Contributing Editor with the National Notary Association.


Add your comment

Pauline A Fernandez

24 Jul 2014

Hi, Shelley, I would like to have more information on the business of signing Living Trusts. I have often been asked about this but didn't know who to ask. I also Live in the Fresno/Clovis area. C: 559-360-4940. Ques: should I change my E-mail address to fit my notary business?

Debbie Anderson

15 Jul 2014

I would also like to learn more about this area. Any information you can provide would be helpful.

Genevieve Nieto

11 Jul 2014

I really would like information regarding not notarizing trust, living trust, etc. Sincerely

National Notary Association

14 Jul 2014

Hello Genevieve! We'd be happy to answer any specific questions about notarizing living trusts you'd like to ask. You can contact our Hotline team at 888-876-6827 or for assistance. If you have any questions regarding the article itself, please email us at Thanks for your interest and have a great day.

Ingrid LeMasters

10 Jul 2014

It's great that you've found a way to help people with this. Because of some recent situations, I've started reminding (urging) people to consider doing their trusts. Shelley is part of a really important process.

26 Jun 2014

I would like to know more about this income opportunity. Please forward me the information to my email Thank you

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