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The practice of keeping a notary journal is one of the hot topics among notaries in most forums and social media discussions. A notary journal is a book that contains details about documents you notarize. Here are some important points to note about the importance of journaling your notary activities and the details you should keep for future reference.
The Main Reason Why a Notary Needs a Journal
Many states in the U.S. either require or recommend that their Notaries should record all their notarial activities in a journal. The reasons are not far-fetched. Apart from serving as a useful record of the Notary’s official activities, it also acts as an evidence of each transaction anytime a notarized document goes missing or during court proceedings.
A Notary in California used her official journal to help signers keep their home after their lender lost vital documents required to process the deed for their property. A well-maintained journal will also give adequate evidence that you acted appropriately if you are accused of making a mistake. It also helps investigators to verify facts when dishonest signers attempt to commit fraud.
The Type of Journal You Should Keep
The features of your journal are usually specified by your state’s regulations. For instance, in Tennessee, the journal is meant to be a properly bound book while in Arizona, their notary laws specify that Notaries have to maintain a paper journal. If your state’s laws do not specify the kind of journal you should keep, the National Notary Association (NNA) recommends that entries are kept in a journal that has bound pages and the entries must be listed in chronological order.
When to Record a Journal Entry
Ideally, each journal entry should be written when the signer is present and before you finalize the notarization. This is the only way you can ensure that all the vital information required for the journal entry, including thumbprints and signatures, are available. Always bear in mind that an incomplete journal entry may have serious legal consequences.
The Most Important Information to Put in Each Journal Entry
Some states provide guidelines and specifications about what each journal entry should contain. For instance, in Montana, Notaries must write down how the signer was identified but keep no record of the serial numbers of identification documents. Make sure you obey the laws of your state when keeping your journal.
If your state does not specify the exact information to put in your journal, use the following NNA recommendations.
- The time and date when the signer appeared before you.
- The kind of notarization you performed e.g. verification by oath, acknowledgment etc.
- The place where the notarization was done
- The title and date of the document involved in the notarization
- The name and address of the signer and witnesses where applicable
- The mode of identification of each signer e.g. type of ID, credible witnesses etc.
- The amount of money collected for the notarization
- The signature of the signers
- The right thumbprint of each signer
- Any other vital information or remarks.
The information provided here will answer many of the common questions that Notaries usually ask about keeping a journal. Always follow the rules and recommendations provided by your state when you are writing entries in your journal.
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