From an outsider’s perspective, the job of a notary public may seem simple enough; the notary witnesses and authenticates various documents as a safety measure to prevent fraud. The notary observes the signature taking place, checks the signer’s identify, and then stamps his or her seal on the document. But there are some common mistakes made by notaries that places the document at risk for being invalid.
Using white-out is a great way to rectify clerical errors on various types of documents, but it should never be used when performing notarial services. The use of white-out and other products designed to “cover up” text is often viewed as tampering; therefore, the receiving agent may reject any notarized documents containing it.
If a notary public makes a mistake (it’s bound to happen at some point), he or she should use a blank document in its place. Alternatively, a single-line strike can be made through the error with the notary’s initials signed next to it.
Illegible Notary Seal
Another all-too-common mistake made by notaries is stamping the document with an illegible notary seal. Stamping the document with a seal is a crucial step in finalizing the notarial service, as it contains the notary public’s name, commission number and the expiration date (contents of stamps vary depending on the state of commission). If any of these elements are missing or illegible, however, the receiving agent may deem it invalid.
Notaries can prevent this problem by keeping several backup stamps on hand. If the primary stamp runs out of ink, the notary public will have another one ready to use. Rocking the stamp from left to right – while keeping it in the position – will also promote a clean and legible seal.
Note: certain states, such as Connecticut, do not require notaries to stamp seals on notarized documents.
Empty Fields Notary Certificate
The notary certificate contains a jurat that must be completed. It’s not uncommon for inexperienced notaries to rush through the jurat, skipping one or more fields. Some of the fields included in a notary certificate are the client’s name and date of notarial service. Leaving these fields blank in the certificate can result in the document being invalid.
Notaries should take their time when completing the certificate, ensuring each and every blank field is filled with the requested information. Double check to ensure the certificate is complete before attaching it to the document and providing it to the client.
Notarizing Without The Signer Present
Under no circumstance should a notary public notarize a document for a client without the client present. Failure to follow this otherwise basic rule will render the document invalid while placing the notary at risk for legal action. This is done as a means to protect the parties involves against fraud.
Common Notary Mistakes to Avoid