Let’s face it, if you go back enough years, there are several cases where notary public malfeasance came into the public eye, and we all know there are literally hundreds of scams people can pull off with the help of an amoral notary. Yet, what about people on the other end? What about the sort of people who want to avoid notary public liability. Here are a few best practices to keep in mind. If you are dealing with notary public insurance, and even if you are not the notary yourself, it pays to be aware of best practice procedure.
A Physically Present Signer
If you are in somewhere like Virginia, then e-signatures are the new norm, but even these days (post-global pandemics), it is far better to notarize people who are physically present. Some of the most common reasons why people have their commissions revoked, and/or are sued, is because they did not oversee the notary process with signers being physically present.
Try to Prove it is a Voluntary Act
If somebody can prove they were pressured into signing, then by law the transaction could be discredited, invalidated, and may even result in a lawsuit and hefty fines. It is not as difficult as it sounds to prove that pressure was applied. In fact, the biggest PPI scandals and lawsuit payments often involved people being pressured into signing up.
Maintain a Journal
If you are the notary, then track as much of what you do as possible, especially if you are dealing with notary public insurance. Even a simple journal stating when something was notarized is good, but the more detail you put in, then the better off you will be in the long run. You need to do this for every person you deal with. Handing a few hastily written notes into the courts will not fly, but if they can see you have years of detailed journal entries, then they may be more inclined to believe what you write, especially if you can prove when the entries were made.
Be Very Careful About the Limits of Your Authority
It can be tricky if part of your job is giving advice because there are times when you may be suitable for giving advice on a certain subject, but not when somebody is signing something where you are the notary. It is a tricky issue but try to keep your advice and your notary duties separate unless the two are linked aka rely on each other for you to function as a notary.
Compete Your Notary Certificates
Sounds like an obvious one, but improperly filled out notary certificates are easier to invalidate. Another piece of obvious, but needed, the advice is to know your commission expiration date. Make sure you notarize before your commission date expires or your document may become invalidated.
Protect Your Seal
If you are a notary, and especially if you are an integral part of notary public insurance, then you need to protect your seal. Obviously, do not let other people use it, and make sure nobody can steal or borrow it.
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