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Essential Tips for Notaries: Avoiding Mistakes that Jeopardize Your License
Being a notary public is a position of trust and responsibility. Notaries have a crucial responsibility to ensure the authenticity and integrity of legal documents. However, the privilege of holding a notary license comes with the responsibility to follow strict guidelines and avoid mistakes that could lead to severe consequences, including losing your license. This blog post will discuss some common errors to avoid so notaries can maintain their licenses.
As notaries know, the laws governing notarizations and remote online notarizations are vast and can be confusing. Because of this issue, there are many ways a notary can potentially violate them without knowing. Notarize Genie highlights acts commonly resulting in a lost license or other penalties.
Common Mistakes Notaries Make
Due to the laws varying in every state, it is difficult to highlight all the potential violations a notary may commit. Fortunately, Notarize Genie identifies several common violations notaries commit, which may lead to license suspension or revocation.
Ensuring the Signer's Presence
A fundamental notarization requirement is the signer must be physically present during the signing. Remote online notarization (RON) platforms have made it more convenient to notarize documents remotely. Still, following the rules and ensuring the signer's presence through video conferencing technology is crucial. Neglecting this requirement can invalidate the notarization and put your license at risk.
Properly Identifying the Signer
Identification is a critical aspect of notarization. Before commencing a session, notaries must diligently verify the signer's identity through valid and acceptable identification documents. Failure to perform due diligence in this regard may result in fraudulent transactions or unauthorized individuals obtaining notarized documents, jeopardizing your license and the integrity of the process.
Administering Oaths or Affirmations
Depending on the jurisdiction and the nature of the document, notaries are often required to administer oaths or affirmations to the signer, ensuring the truthfulness and accuracy of the information being notarized. Neglecting this crucial step can lead to legal issues and potential license suspension or revocation.
Recording Sessions in a Journal
Maintaining a detailed record of each notarial act is a requirement in many states. Failing to record essential information consistently and accurately in a notary journal can be a severe offense. It's vital to understand your state's specific guidelines on record-keeping and adhere to them strictly. A well-maintained journal provides a reliable record of your notarial acts and evidences your compliance with the law.
When performing remote online notarizations, some states require notaries to keep an electronic journal of the signing, which includes identifying the use of remote online notarization for the signing. Additionally, an audio-video recording of the session must be taken and saved.
Charging Fees within Legal Limits
Notaries are entitled to charge reasonable fees for their services, but knowing and complying with the fee schedules and limitations set by your state's laws is vital. Charging excessive fees or exceeding the legally prescribed limits can result in disciplinary actions, loss of license, or even potential legal consequences. Familiarize yourself with the fee regulations in your jurisdiction and ensure that your fee practices comply.
Unauthorized Practice of Law
Notaries must refrain from providing legal advice or services beyond their authorized duties. Giving legal advice or engaging in activities reserved for attorneys, such as drafting legal documents, interpreting contracts, or providing guidance on complex legal matters, can be considered the unauthorized practice of law. Violating these boundaries risks your license and compromises the rights and interests of the parties involved in the notarization process. If someone seeks legal advice, always recommend they consult with an attorney.
Advertising and Foreign Terminology
Notaries should be cautious when it comes to advertising their services. While promoting your notary services is essential for growing your business, avoiding misleading or deceptive advertising practices is necessary. Moreover, using foreign legal terms or titles that imply specialized legal knowledge, such as "notario" or "notaire," can be misleading in jurisdictions where these terms have different meanings or are only for attorneys. Misrepresenting your qualifications or offering services beyond your scope as a notary can lead to disciplinary action, including losing your license.
Penalties for Notary Violations
As Notarizing documents is an act that has ranging legal implications, the penalties for violations of the laws can result in severe consequences. Penalties depend on the circumstances of the violation, and Notaries may be to fight penalties depending on the state their license is in.
Common penalties notaries face include the following:
- 1. License Suspension or Revocation
- 2.Legal Liabilities and Lawsuits
- 3. Invalidated Notarial Acts
- 4. Fines and Penalties
- 5. Professional Reputational Damage
Notaries looking to avoid facing these penalties can take preventative steps. Notaries should seek learning resources and people who can help them navigate laws and regulations.
Maintain Compliance with State Laws
To prevent the risk of losing your notary license, it is essential to familiarize yourself with and adhere to the specific laws and regulations governing notarial acts in your state. Here are a few key considerations:
Education and Training
Stay informed about the educational requirements and ongoing training opportunities provided by your state. Continuing education helps you stay updated on changes to notary laws, regulations, and best practices, reducing the likelihood of making errors that could jeopardize your license.
Regularly Review State Guidelines
Notaries must recognize that each state has its own laws and regulations governing the notarial process, such as identification requirements, record-keeping obligations, and fee limitations. Familiarize yourself with the specific requirements, limitations, and procedures applicable to your state. Regularly review and stay updated with any changes or amendments to the notary laws to ensure compliance and avoid inadvertent violations that may jeopardize your license.
Seek Professional Support
If you are unsure about aspects of notarizing or face a complex situation, don't hesitate to consult a mentor, professional organization, or your state's notary commission for guidance. These resources can clarify questions and help you navigate challenging scenarios while safeguarding your license.
Notaries Can Contact Notarize Genie For Help Understanding Notary Laws
While Notarize Genie cannot give you legal advice, we can point you to our favorite resources. Our founders have years of combined experience in the Online Notarization industry, and we love to help notaries. Notaries wanting to know more can visit our website or call us at (800) 381-8240.