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My First Notarization: What I Learned

Florida Notary Amanda Doumanian Reeves

Amanda Doumanian Reeves

Becoming a Notary was a shaky experience because I had no idea what I was doing. I’d studied the Notary laws and definitions, but actually performing a notarization was a whole new ball game.

Even though my mom, who had been a Notary for many years, showed me the ropes, my first few Notary jobs were challenging. During my first refinance closing, I was so nervous dealing with the signers and figuring out all the documents that I overlooked a few things. I had to return twice to get documents re-signed and notarized.

Looking back, those early experiences taught me some valuable lessons about what it means to be a Notary. Among the biggest was learning how to be flexible because each signer has her own expectations. As Notaries, we need to be able to adapt to meet different signer expectations while fulfilling our duties.

Notary Communication Is Key

Regardless of the assignment — whether it’s a loan signing, a living trust, a power of attorney or anything else — I always try to reach out to the client ahead of time to gather as much information as possible and make sure my client is fully prepared.

It helps to do the following:

  • Ask what type of document needs notarization.
  • Confirm the appointment and the fees.
  • Ask your signer if he has a valid form of ID.
  • Make sure that all needed parties will be present.
  • Confirm the address of the appointment (and don’t be late).
  • Double-check your work to steer clear of mistakes and avoid having to go back and do it all over again!  

Keep Notary Resources Handy

Throughout my years as a mobile Notary, I have always relied on valuable resources, such as my copy of The Florida Notary Law Primer. At least once a week I get a call about notarizing a document and check this book.

I also have the NNA Hotline number programmed into my phone so I can call and get answers immediately.

Among other things, these assets help me understand when a signer asks me to do something improper. When you have to say, “No,” it helps to be able to explain why.

Just like anything else, you get better with practice. The more you notarize the more familiar you’ll be with different types of documents and how to handle signers. When in doubt, stop and take a minute to slow down and think about what you are doing.

If you don’t know the answer to something, consult the NNA or another experienced Notary that can properly advise you. It’s better to ask questions and do it properly than rush in to perform an incorrect notarial act.

Amanda Doumanian Reeves has worked as a mobile Notary in Tallahassee, Florida, for five years and helps run a thriving business, A Notary on the Go, with her family.

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30 Mar 2015

Often the vendor, lender and Title are unavailable during your signing. It is best to ask as many questions as possible right after you get a signing, reading instructions, and asking immediate questions as soon as possible after downloading the documents. Although I use used toners to print instruction pages--which are sometimes a little bit light--I like to use highlighters on them. Nobody minds bc I figure that these are tossed, but it also shows the lender and vendor that I have taken the time to read them, especially faxback lists!! Whenever there is a doubt about whether a page is to be signed or not, I print extras, have them signed and initialed every way possible and sen them all. One great example is the 1003. Vendors and Title companies have sworn that a single borrower does NOT sign page 1, and other Vendors and Title companies have sworn to me that a single borrower DOES sign page 1, despite the wording which obviously reads, "no."

30 Mar 2015

When I did my first signing the guy had such an outrageous story about cutting a tree down and the letter was going to go to the park ranger to say he didn't cut it down. I was so nervous I had him sign, I filled out my journal and stamped his document. I totally forgot to sign myself. He never called back and I didn't have his phone number. That was a great learning experience.

Maria Aragon

31 Mar 2015

Having been a Notary for many years, I'm comfortable in my Notary practices; however, after reading your article, I realize that I cannot take things for granted. Thanks for the resource tips and the reminder to always keep my manual handy and revert back to it for new laws, rules and regs, in our ever-changing society.

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