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Notary Quiz: What Does This Signer Want?

ANSWERS:

1. A customer calls you. “I need a copy of my birth certificate notarized so the agency I’m sending it to has proof it’s authentic. Can you do this for me?” What should you do?

A. Agree to certify the copy if the signer brings it to you along with the original birth certificate.
B. Agree to certify the copy only if the signer brings you the original birth certificate and you photocopy it yourself.
C. Tell the signer that only the recording office that issued the original birth certificate can provide a certified copy.
D. None of the above. 

ANSWER: C. Certified copies of vital records such as birth, death and marriage certificates can only be issued by the recording office that holds the original document.

2. A signer asks you to notarize her signature. The document contains a notarial certificate that reads, “Acknowledged, subscribed and sworn to before me on …. (date).” What should you do?

A. Ask the signer to “subscribe” (sign) the document, acknowledge signing it and swear or affirm the statements in it are true, and complete the notarial certificate on the document.
B. Ask the signer to “subscribe” (sign) the document, and either acknowledge signing it or swear or affirm the statements in it are true, and complete the notarial certificate on the document.
C. Ask the signer to “subscribe” (sign) the document, and either acknowledge signing it or swear or affirm the statements in it are true, and replace the certificate on the document with either an acknowledgment or verification on oath or affirmation (or jurat) certificate.
D. Ask the signer to “subscribe” (sign) the document, and affix your seal and signature without completing the notarial certificate.
E. Either A or C, depending on your state.
F. Either B or D, depending on your state.

ANSWER: E. Either A or C, depending on your state. “Hybrid notarial certificates” are tricky for Notaries to deal with, because they ask the Notary to certify actions of not one, but two or more notarial acts. In this test question, elements of an acknowledgment and verification on oath or affirmation (or jurat) are combined into one notarial certificate. If you are presented with a document that includes hybrid certificate wording, you will need to complete all actions stated in the certificate — so if a hybrid certificate includes wording for an acknowledgment and verification (jurat), you will need to complete both.

This test question is also tricky because not all states allow Notaries to complete hybrid certificates (California, for example.) If you are commissioned in California, you will need to complete and attach to the document the correct notarial certificate for either an acknowledgment or jurat that you perform. In this case, Answer C would be the correct answer.

3. A neighbor asks for your help. “I’m going to court tomorrow, and I need to present this document as evidence,” he says. “I need to make sure it’s legal, so can you stamp and sign it?” What do you do?

A. Stamp and sign the document but ask the neighbor to show you acceptable identification first.
B. Tell your neighbor that notarization does not automatically “legalize” a document.
C. Tell your neighbor that you can’t affix your seal to a document without performing a notarization authorized your state’s laws.
D. Both B and C. 

ANSWER: D. Many people mistakenly believe that affixing a Notary’s seal and signature automatically makes the document legally binding in a court of law, but this is simply not true. A Notary can verify the identity of a person who signs a document, or administer an oath or affirmation to a document signer, but a notarization cannot “legalize” a document simply by having a Notary stamp it. In fact, some states specifically prohibit Notaries from affixing their official seals to documents except when the Notary is performing an authorized notarization.

4.  A signer brings you a document that requires the signer to swear that the statements in it are true. But when you are about to administer the oath to the signer, he balks. “I don’t believe in God. Can you just perform the notarization and forget the oath?” What do you do?

A. Stop the notarization since the signer is unwilling to recite an oath.
B. Complete the notarization but skip the oath.
C. Perform an acknowledgment for the signer instead.
D. Suggest the signer can take an affirmation in which the signer confirms the statements in the document are true based on personal honor.

ANSWER: D. When notarizing a signature on a document that requires the signer to verbally confirm the statements in the document are true, a signer has two options. The signer may take an oath, which is a promise of truthfulness made to a higher power or the signer may take an affirmation, which is a promise of truthfulness based on personal honor without invoking a deity or supreme being. Both oaths and affirmations are equally acceptable for and a signer can choose which type of promise they prefer based on the signer’s personal beliefs.

7 Comments

Add your comment

Gloria Rodriguez

09 Mar 2020

very good information. it is important to understand what it means to be a Notary.

Janet Seay

09 Mar 2020

Good professional information.

Azel Anderson

09 Mar 2020

Very informative

Hugh

10 Mar 2020

I got hung up on second question because question is a string of "and" clauses but answer C is a string of "or" clauses. very tricky!

Joyce

10 Mar 2020

Not sure I agree with the answer for Question 3. If feels like giving legal advice to: B. Tell your neighbor that notarization does not automatically “legalize” a document. I only answered D.

Anna

11 Mar 2020

This was a nice refresher, making sure that we are doing the right things!

Daniel Downing

16 Mar 2020

Question 4 ans C must include that it meets the requirements for notarization in California...i.e. it commits the signer in some way.

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