Notary 101

Pre-Notary Checklist

Pre-Notary checklist.

You’ve taken the 6 hour mandatory notary public class and successfully passed the California exam. What Now? How do you notarize anything? Really, it’s not so hard.  Most of the time, it’s as simple as providing ‘Form A’ or ‘ Form B’, that’s it.  What are those forms? They are the notary certificates you learned about in class, they are the acknowledgement and the jurat. Unless, you are in a niche industry that requires special kinds of notary, you’ll be working with acknowledgements and jurats. Sounds easy, right? Right!

Creating a good notary practice.

There are a few simple routines that ensure you’re acting as a great notary. A notary’s role is to prevent fraud. These are the checklist items that must occur before any notarization. Even a skilled pilot will ensure he/she has met a pre-flight checklist. You will meet your pre-notary checklist. Doing this will create excellence in your notary work.


1. Check active government ID.

You’re first job as notary is to ensure that the signer is really who they say they are. Check to make sure that the Signer’s Active ID matches the name on the document. State driver’s licenses and US passports serve as great identification.


2. Make sure the document is complete.

Scan the document to be notarized. You’re only looking for blanks. The contents of the document isn’t the concern of the notary, it can say absolutely anything. Your concern as a notary is that nothing can be filled in by someone else later. By having the signer fill in any blanks you are protecting them from having someone alter their document at a later time.


3. Affirm the signer is of sound mind.

If a signer isn’t of sound mind, then their best interests may be in jeopardy. A common scenario is an elderly, mentally ill, emotionally unstable,  or medicated person who is signing over property or powers over to someone that may cause them harm physically or financially. It is important to make certain that the signer is aware and understands the significance of the transaction. Ask questions and create a dialogue with the signer to see if they’re in a good capacity to sign.


4. Signer should sign on their own accord.

Get a feel for the environment of the transaction. If there is a sense that a signer is being pressured, coerced, or bullied into signing, it is best to stop the transaction. If a signer is being pressured into signing documents, they have not come to terms with signing on their own. This transaction has happened under duress. Not only may It may be contested later, it may be causing harm, loss, or uncertainty to the people involved and others.  All signers should ready and willing to sign.


5. Communication is the key.

The notary and the signer must be able to communicate intentions in a mutually understood language. This way the notary can affirm that everything is on the up and up, properly preventing fraud. The notary can further communicate their role in the process. If there are questions about the document, the signer should contact the receiving agency or an appropriate industry officer (loan, escrow, real estate, accountant, etc.). They may also want to contact an attorney for any legal advice.


Notary checklist complete. What now?

By having fulfilled the steps above, you have affirmed that the notarization is ready to proceed. Those were the hardest steps. From here on out, notary is simple.

  • The signer will sign the page to be notarized. (How a signer should sign the document?)
  • The notary will attach a notary certificate. (‘Form A’ or ‘Form B’, which notary certificate should be attached?)
  • The notary will fill complete the notary journal. (Completing a notarial journal entry)
  • The signer will sign the Journal and provide thumbprints. (Signing the notary journal)
  • Feel confident and accept proper payment for services.