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Notary Certificate Mistakes

Correcting Certificate Mistakes No Longer Allowed In California
By Michael Lewis on January 22, 2014 in Laws & Regulations


The California Secretary of State’s office issued a statement this month informing Notaries that they are not allowed to correct mistakes on a notarial certificate after a notarization is complete. While most Notaries are diligent in carrying out their duties, they are not immune from occasionally making errors in completing a notarial certificate — such as inserting incorrect dates, misspelling names or writing the wrong county in the venue.  

According to the state’s one-paragraph notice in the latest issue of the agency’s Notary News, “If you discover an error in a notarial act after completing the act, then notarize the signature on the document again. ”The NNA first became aware of this issue in 2012 when a member reported that she was being investigated by the Secretary of State’s office for correcting errors on certificates.  But this is the first time the state has published its official position.  The Secretary’s position means that if you discover a mistake after leaving the signer, you must meet with the signer again and complete a new certificate of acknowledgment or jurat.  At that time, you will need to go through all the steps required by law of a proper notarial act, including positively identifying the signer and completing a full journal entry for the transaction.  Essentially, you must perform a new notarization.  

The Secretary’s statement noted that “there are no provisions in the law that allow for the correction of a completed notarial act.”  However, the agency views correcting certificates after the fact to be a form of backdating, which is a possible criminal act and official misconduct under the law and could result in your commission being suspended or revoked.  Signing agents are particularly susceptible to making inadvertent clerical errors on notarial certificates because of the large number of documents contained in a loan package.  Signing agents should take special care to review all the loan documents carefully at the signing table before leaving the signer to make sure everything is completed correctly.



Michael Lewis is Managing Editor at the National Notary Association.

Refinance Affidavit and Deed Errors Prevalent

Deed and Refinance Affidavit (MD) Rejections Hit an All Time High!

With interest rates at their lowest point in years, and a boom in refinancing and purchase loans, common errors are being blamed for the sudden increase of rejected “Deeds” and “Refinance Affidavits (MD)” from County Recorder’s offices all over the country.
“Notaries are so busy these days, they often do not spend the time to check their work for completeness,” said N. Hamilton, servicing department – Irvine. “Often stamps are placed over text or forgotten altogether. “ Miss Hamilton also commented, “Notaries are not completing the wording within the Notary section, leaving the recorders office guessing who appeared before them.” Other problems noted have been as simple as the Notary stamp over inked, smudged or under inked, making the document unrecordable. 

These rejections delay the recording of the “Deed” or “Refinance Affidavit”, and put the financial institution at greater risk, as their loan is unsecured. Couriering the document to and from the notary adds additional expenses to the signing service and the Notary will usually have to go back out at their own expense to correct their mistake.
To avoid these errors, below are a few general guidelines from the County Recorder’s offices to insure the recording of all presented:
 
NOTICE TO NOTARIES PUBLIC
ON THE DESIGN AND USE OF AN OFFICIAL SEAL

(Section 8207 Government Code, Et. Seq.)
An official notary public seal must be clear on all documents so that the name of the notary, the State Seal, the words “Notary Public” and the name of the County where the bond is filed can be photographically reproduced.
The expiration of the commission and the notary and manufacturer identification numbers must also be clearly shown on the seals used by notaries public commissioned on and after January 1, 1992.
All the above referenced information must appear on the seal. It cannot be added in written or typed form or by the use of a separate stamp.
Either a rubber stamp or metal seal with the required information can be used. A seal must meet the “Notary Seal Requirements” for that State. The following format is recommended for a rectangular rubber stamp with black ink. (Please check your State requirements)

Documents may be unacceptable for recording if any one of the following conditions exists:
1. Seal is placed over or obscures an integral part of the text or a signature.
2. Seal is placed over decorative and colored symbols or borders of a document, resulting in the seal not being photographically reproducible.
3. Seal is altered with ink, typing, pencil, ECT.
4. Metal seal has been inked too heavily, resulting in an unclear impression that is not reproducible.
5. Placement of the commission expiration date outside the border of a seal (if commission expired on or after January 1, 1972)

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