What’s Important About the Notary Journal Entries?
During a recent signing in Palo Alto, the signer was annoyed that I was writing the documents information in my notary journal. He said, “My usual notary has me sign once, no matter how many documents I have.” I replied, “Notary laws changed recently. Notaries are required to use one journal entry per notarized document.” He was very impatient, although he was doing his work while I completed the journal entries. It protects him. If the documents are challenged in the future, do you think he would prefer the notary who used one journal entry per notarized document or the notary who used one journal entry for all of the notarized documents? Usually, more details are more helpful.
Copies of my notary journal entries have been requested by attorneys. In one instance, in San Jose a mother had terminal cancer and was concerned about the guardianship of her two children. She was advised to have a letter notarized stating her wishes. After she passed away, her family challenged her children’s guardianship. She was of sound mind and understood what she signed. The details in my notary journal included:
1. The date and time of the notarization
2. The title of the document
3. The number of pages of the notarized document
4. A loose notary acknowledgment was attached
5. Credible witnesses driver’s license information (they were used to identify her)
6. Credible witnesses signatures
7. Her name and address
8. Her signature
9. Her right thumb print
10. The fee for the notarization
11. I also included notes on where the notarization occurred
Another instance, in Los Altos an elderly woman signed a revised trust and a certification of trust. She was of sound mind and understood what she signed. After she passed away, some of her family contested the documents because they were not included as beneficiaries. Her attorney’s contacted me for my journal entries. My journal entries were helpful, as they showed the time of the notarizations, her identification information, her signature and thumbprints. They used the time of the notarizations to show that I was there for about 30 minutes for the signing (from the start of the notary appointment). It was not a “quick, sign here good-bye notarization.”
A couple of years ago, the California Secretary of State started requiring notary publics use one journal entry per notarized document, so more details of each document could be entered. The purpose is to help deter fraud and protect the parties involved in the notarizations. Previously, notaries could use one journal entry for multiple notarized documents. This was hard to include more details about each document.
According to the FBI…”A written or electronic record of the transaction in a journal of notarial acts. By recording critical facts about each notarization at the time of the act is performed, the Notary creates an official public record that safeguards citizens’ valuable property and due process rights.” (The Role of Notaries in Deterring and Detecting Fraud and Identity Crimes 2004)
What is important to you about the notary journal?
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This is such a great post, and so true. Clients might get impatient by the attention to detail, but they’d get a lot more upset later if you didn’t take the extra time to protect their interests. I like how you replied in that situation.
Thanks Roy for taking time to share your feedback. Yes, clients are usually thankful when they realize the benefit of the details.