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Notary Bulletin

Confusing Certificates

Completing notarial certificate wording is an essential part of notarizing signatures. But what do you do if the certificate is presented to you with some or all of its information filled in? Or even filled in with the wrong information? Or the wording isn’t normally used in your state? Take our quiz and see how you would deal with confusing certificate situations.

1. You are asked to notarize a co-worker’s signature on an office document. While performing the notarization, you see that the venue on the certificate wording has been filled in already — and it’s a different state and county than where the notarization is taking place. What do you do?

A. Just complete the notarization with the information already filled in
B. Line through the incorrect venue information and write in the correct location
C. Attach a new, loose certificate to use instead and fill in the correct venue information
D. Either B or C

2. A customer requests that you perform a jurat and administer an oath to her after she signs a business document in your presence. However, after she signs the document, you see that the certificate wording is for an acknowledgment, not a jurat. When you ask the customer, she confirms that she wants a jurat. What should you do?

A. Perform both an acknowledgment and a jurat.
B. Perform an acknowledgment using the wording provided on the document instead of a jurat
C. Perform a jurat, completing and attaching jurat certificate wording to the document instead of the acknowledgment wording provided.
D. Perform a proof of execution by subscribing witness instead

3. A customer asks you to notarize his signature on a document sent from another country. You see that the certificate wording is asking you to perform a notarial act that isn’t authorized under your state’s laws. What should you do?

A. Explain to the signer that you aren’t allowed to perform a notarial act using this wording
B. Perform the notarization but make a note about the unusual wording in your journal
C. Refer the signer to another notary
D. Photocopy the wording for your records and perform the notarization

 

 

ANSWERS:

1. D. You should never complete a notarization with wrong information in the notarial wording. In this case, the Notary has two options. The first is to cross out the wrong venue information, write in the correct location where the notarization is taking place, and initial and date the correction on the certificate. The second option is to complete a new, loose notarial certificate with the correct venue information and attach this certificate to the document in place of the original certificate.

2. C. When completing a notarization, you should always perform the act requested by the signer. Since the customer has confirmed she wants a jurat, attach and complete a loose jurat certificate to the document instead of using the provided acknowledgment wording.

If you are in a situation in which the signer isn’t sure whether an acknowledgment or jurat is needed, you can briefly describe both notarial acts and let the signer choose which one he or she wants. If the signer still isn’t sure, the signer should contact the document’s issuing agency or an attorney for guidance before you proceed with the notarization. Remember that nonattorney Notaries are prohibited by law from choosing a notarial act on a signer’s behalf.

3. A. Notaries from other nations often have different duties than their U.S. counterparts and may perform notarial acts that aren’t permitted under your state’s laws. If a document requests an act that isn’t permitted by statute, you must refuse the notarization. You may ask if the signer wants you to perform an act you are authorized by law to perform — such as an acknowledgment or jurat — as an alternative. If the signer does not want an alternative notarial act, an officer at a consulate or embassy for the country the document came from may be able to notarize the document instead.

David Thun is an Associate Editor at the National Notary Association.

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