Tips for Preparing Your Estate

Planning You Estate & Your Will

will and estate planning tips

Estate planning sounds like something for wealthy people, but everyone has an estate and the right to direct how it should be distributed upon their passing. If you have children or other family members, it’s your responsibility to make decisions about your assets to protect your heirs’ rights after you die.

An estate is not just a big fancy house. It’s a legal term for the sum of all your possessions. Your estate may include a vacation home or other real property, but it can also contain small personal possessions that have more sentimental than monetary value. Everything you own, no matter its worth or size, can be distributed according to your wishes after your death, if you specify your instructions in a legally binding will.

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Tips For Temporary Guardianship

Are You Prepared for Temporary Guardianship?

temporary-guardianship-tips

There are a few reasons you may need to become a temporary guardian. This legal arrangement allows you to manage someone else’s financial, personal and medical matters for a set period. It is something you may voluntarily take on for someone in your life who needs your help, or a court could appoint you as the temporary guardian for a minor.

The difference between a guardianship and a temporary guardianship is the length of time it remains in force. A guardianship is usually indefinite, while a temporary guardianship typically ends after a set date, and you’re no longer able to manage someone else’s affairs. The temporary nature of this type of guardianship might get you through a health crisis or give you control of a minor child’s assets until that child becomes an adult.

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SBA Loans for Disaster Assistance

sba-disaster-assitance-loans

Disasters caused by extreme weather or other emergency situations are more common than you might think. It’s a good idea to prepare your home or business with an emergency plan to help things run smoother in the event of such a disaster. Part of your emergency plan should include safeguarding certain information, so you can find it quickly when it’s time to clean up from the disaster.

You will need the phone number of your insurance agent along with policy numbers and other insurance documentation. Unfortunately, not all damages are covered by insurance, meaning a disaster may leave you without the means for a successful recovery. The Small Business Administration (SBA) provides loans for disaster recovery.

How Do SBA Loans Work for Disaster Relief?

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Tips for Selling a Classic Car

Tips for Selling a Classic Car

tips-selling-classic-cars

Buying and selling used cars is not a difficult undertaking. Most Americans have done this at least once in their lifetimes. When you sell a used car rather than trade it in at a dealer, you usually get a better price for the vehicle. Sometimes, you can get a good deal on a used car when you buy it through a private sale as well.

A classic car is definitely used, and it’s much older than the average car on the market, but it is a bit different. To sell a classic car, you want to be sure you get the right value for it.

By preparing for the sale and marketing properly, you may be able to connect with the right buyer and get a very good price for your classic car.

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5 Tips For Selling Your Car

tips-selling-your-car

Selling your car can be a source of needed funds, especially if you are moving or already have a new car. The money you recoup from selling your old car could be enough to help you pay for something else — like car insurance for your other vehicle, for example. These six steps will get you through the process of advertising and selling your car.

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Handling Certified Copies of Public Records and Other Unusual Notary Requests

The majority of the time when you’re asked to provide notary services, the circumstances will be clear-cut and you have no concerns either notarizing a document – or declining to because it would be a violation of jurisdictional rules. However, there are times when a notary public may face unusual requests, such as asking for a copy certification of a record or identification paperwork. You should always contact the official agency that issues and maintains your notary credentials, but some background can help you understand what to do when a customer presents a document that you’re unsure about.

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A Guide to Notarizing for Physically Impaired Signers

The majority of the time, your job as a notary public is straightforward and there are few issues with checking for signatory identification, reviewing the documents and assessing willingness to sign. However, many notary professionals will be faced with a person who is unable to sign due to some physical impairment. You may have doubts about whether you can go forward with the notarial act under the circumstances, but the law in most states does make concessions for such a situation. There are multiple ways to notarize a signature and still stay within the confines of your jurisdiction’s law. Here is a look at a few options.

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How Much Does It Cost to Get a Notary?

A notary public is a professional granted credentials by state government to act as a witness to the execution of important documents, to reduce the risk of fraud in certain transactions. Typically, paperwork related to transfers of real estate, estate planning documents, powers of attorney and some loan documentation will require a notary public seal. If you require notary services often, you probably have questions about the cost of a notary public, especially if your needs are ongoing. There are a few factors to consider when looking at how much it costs to retain a notary professional.

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Notaries for International Adoption

Many people are aware of the notarization requirements to complete a power of attorney, sell or buy real estate, obtain a loan, or execute a will. If you’re like many others, you may not be familiar with the strict standards set in place by the US government and foreign nations when couples are seeking an international adoption. In many ways, an adoption is among the most enjoyable reasons to retain a notary professional. It’s rewarding because a child become part of a new family. However, there are some stringent requirements that make an international adoption challenging. Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering adopting a child from another country – or if you’re a notary professional looking to get involved with international adoptions.

 

Federal Law on International Adoptions

 Because an international adoption takes place across national borders, the US Department of State is involved with the process. In general, documents used in conjunction with international adoptions – or any international transaction – must be “authenticated” or “legalized” before they’re considered valid in another country. The process typically involves placement of seals or stamps, possibly including notarization. Paperwork that may be involved for an international adoption includes:

  • Powers of attorney;
  • Birth, death and marriage certifications;
  • Affidavits, oaths and affirmations, particularly those appearing on application materials;
  • Deeds; and,
  • Other legal records related to the adoption transaction.

The specifics needed for authentication depend on the governing law of the foreign country, but your adoption is likely to follow one of two proceedings:

  1. Home Country is a Signatory to The Hague Convention. Obtaining a special apostille certificate will generally meet the authentication requirements for an international adoption.
  1. Home Country is not a Signatory: If the home country of the child you want to adopt isn’t a signatory to The Hague Convention, which covers adoptions, you may need to go through the “chain authentication method” where you literally follow a document through various phases of validity.
  • For notarized documents, you must follow the proper procedures according to your state’s laws on authentications.
  • Documents at the state level, such as those that originate in a state court or are maintained by the state, must be authenticated by your Secretary of State’s office. The Secretary of State’s office is also responsible for verifying the authentication of notarized documents listed above.
  • Documents issued by federal agencies must be certified by the US Department of State Authentications Office.
  • Any documents under seal of a federal court must be first verified by the Justice Management Division of the federal court system. From there, they must also be authenticated by the US Department of State Authentications Office as mentioned above.
  • A foreign embassy located in the US is usually the last link in the chain authentication method. A consulate or embassy can only authenticate the seal of the US Department of State, which is why there are various steps before you can obtain the final, properly executed document for an international adoption.

 

The Role of a Notary Professional in International Adoptions

The notary public’s job when executing documents related to international adoptions does not differ greatly from other transactions. As a state-appointed official, a notary serves as an impartial witness in performing tasks intended to deter fraud that might otherwise be widespread in the execution of critical documents. In the context of international adoptions, the role of a notary is to:

  • Follow the laws and rules of the state where they’re commissioned, without inserting personal judgment or discretion into the process.
  • Verify the identities of the parties who are signing important documents, such as the records required to complete an international adoption within the confines of the law.
  • Ensure that the parties are signing through their own free will, and without intimidation.
  • Make sure the people signing a document are aware of the contents and the overall transaction – though a notary cannot express on opinion of the material itself.
  • At times, the laws of a state may require a notary to place the signer under oath to affirm the truth of the statements contained in the documents.

The duty of impartiality is a key component of a notary professional’s responsibilities. They cannot act when they have a personal interest in the transaction or documents, and they cannot refuse services based on up race, ethnicity, religion, politics and other factors.

Requirements of the Notary Public

 In order to properly take on the role of a notary and perform the functions the job requires, a notary public must abide by certain standards. As with most tasks related to notary services, the exact requirements are defined by state law. However, there are certain elements that are common across most jurisdictions.

  1. The signers of all documents required to be notarized must be present before the notary when executing.
  2. A notary public should review the documents for make sure it contains the necessary language for certification purposes. Scanning the paperwork will also help identify blank spaces or incomplete information.
  3. The notary public must verify the identity of the signatories, which usually is accomplished through checking state issued ID. The notary professional will also assess willingness to sign.
  4. Once all parties have signed, the notary public is required to complete the notary verification within the document, including the date and seal.
  5. In some states, a notary should also record the transaction in a journal.

Certain additional rules apply when an international adoption is involved:

  • In many states, a notary should have more than a year remaining before their commission expires. This is because it can take several months for officials in the child’s home country to review all the necessary documentation.
  • Some adoption agencies may require documents to be embossed, regardless of state requirements for a photocopy-able ink stamp.
  • All documentation is subject to review and approval by your state Secretary of State or other government agency, in order to obtain the apostille or other authentication paperwork. This process is intended to verify that the notary public has a valid, unexpired commission in the appropriate jurisdiction.

 

Choosing a Notary Service

Finding the right notary service for any important transaction is important, but it may be even more critical when dealing with an international adoption. If documentation is incomplete or contains errors, improper notarization can actually delay the process – or even result in denials. Therefore, you should look for services that have obtained the proper credentials and training in your state. It’s also essential to understand how notary professionals charge for their services.

It’s often useful to consider mobile notary services to assist you with notarization for an international adoption. There are a number of benefits that make a mobile notary public a wise decision:

  • You’ll Save Time: A notary in an international adoption must verify the identities of multiple signatories; these individuals must be present during execution and supply proof of identification. A mobile notary service can be onsite as necessary to expedite the process.
  • You’ll Save Money: When you save time, you save money – because your time has value. Instead of spending a day traveling to a notary’s office to obtain authentications, you can have the professional come to your home or office.
  • You Still Get the Same Reliable Service: A mobile notary public has the same qualifications and training as any notary public in your state. You’ll never have to worry about the quality of the work or whether the job was completed in full. The only difference is that you schedule a mobile notary public in advance so they can accommodate your schedule.

The international adoption process requires certain authentication of the documents involved, which means you must rely on a notary public that has the credentials and training to handle these transactions. Choosing the right notary professional can make or break the process so look for companies that know the relevant rules and provide top customer care, including the mobile services that make your life easier.


Can Notaries Give Legal Advice?

You’re likely aware that notary services play a part in the execution of important documents related to home mortgages, car loans and in estate planning. Due to the legal nature of these transactions, you might assume that a notary public has the expertise to provide advice regarding the laws that govern the rights of the parties. However, it’s important to understand the role of a notary professional, and what they can and cannot do.

 

Limitations on Providing Legal Advice:

The duties of a notary public are clearly defined by statute in every state and, while the laws may vary by jurisdiction, a notary is only legally allowed to provide certain acts. Any action taken by a notary that constitutes exercising judgment or direction may be considered the unauthorized practice of law: offering legal services without being licensed as an attorney. It’s a fine line, as many of the documents that require notary services are legal in nature – a signer that asks a simple question might get a notary public in trouble. Some examples include:

  • Offering legal advice or saying what a law means;
  • Drafting or assisting a signer in drafting a document;
  • Offering advice as to the proper notarization process to perform in executing a document;
  • Providing a legal form or recommending that a certain document or form should be used for a specific transaction;
  • Representing a person in a courtroom or legal proceeding; and,
  • Charging a fee for what amounts to legal work.

 

How a Notary Public Can Avoid Unauthorized Practice of Law:

There are ways that a notary public can avoid being accused of offering legal advice, while still assisting signatories with execution of documents.

  • The notary should set proper expectations with the signers of a document, clearly explaining their role and what they can and cannot do in providing notary services.
  • A notary public can explain what documents they can notarize and what notary actions they take with respect to each type of document. For instance, a notary can explain the differences between an affidavit and an acknowledgment; however, the signers (or licensed attorneys) must still choose the document they’ll be signing.
  • The notary can refer signers to an attorney if they have questions or would like to know more about the legal impact of the document they’re executing.

 

Job Duties of a Notary Signing Agent:

The role of a notary public is to verify the identity of a person signing a document and ensure they’re signing under their free will. A notary signing agent may assist with the execution of documents related to real estate, and their role is more involved. The notary signing agent is allowed by law to review an entire loan package with borrowers who are obtaining a mortgage, ensuring that all signatures are in the right place and notarized as required by law.

Whether you require a notary public or a notary signing agent will depend on the transaction, your circumstances and the laws of your state. It’s essential to consider your needs when looking at options for notary services, so you’re sure to find the right fit. You should also seek out a notary professional that provides top customer service and can assist you with proper execution of documents.