As with many aspects of notarization, the rules and regulations surrounding proper signatures on documents may vary from state to state. In this article, we will be addressing some of the more general frequently asked questions concerning the validity of signatures on documents that are presented for notarization.
Q: Is a signer allowed to use a signature stamp to sign a document in place of an original hand-written signature?
A: The statutes for most states permit the use of facsimile signatures, given that the signer places them on the document with his or her hand, or if the facsimile signatures are placed at the direction of the signer. If the notary laws of your state disallow the use of a stamped signature by an individual, the notary must follow the established procedures for notarization. The notary must be present while the signer is affixing the stamp signature during the notarization. Your state’s notary statutes will provide more information on this. You may also contact the commissioning authority in your area for further clarification.
Q: My boss goes on frequent business trips, but he has a signature stamp. May I use the stamp to notarize his document when he is not present in the office?
A: No. The person signing the document (your boss in this case) must be physically present before the notary when the notarization is taking place. If your boss is not physically present at the time the notarization is executed, you cannot legally affix his signature on his behalf. Also, a notary may not accept acknowledgment of the signer by phone or other means if the signer is absent.
Q: An attorney is asking me to put my seal on a signature line as a substitute for my notary signature. Is he right?
A: No. To execute proper notary procedures, a notary public has to sign a notarial certificate during the notarial act and then perform the authentication using a notary seal. If the notarial procedures are not properly performed when the notarization is taking place, it can lead to both criminal and civil liabilities for the notary.
Q: Am I allowed to notarize my signature?
A: No. Notary statutes in most states clearly prohibit all notaries public from performing notarization of their personal signatures. Definitely, notaries public should not attempt to acknowledge themselves or administer their own oaths.
Q: How should I complete a notarization on a document with carbon paper and duplicates. Should I notarize each of the copies separately?
A: No. After you have completed the procedures for the notarial certificate for the original document, you can only sign the original certificate and authenticate it with your notary public seal. It is wrong for a notary public to place an original notary signature or seal on any carbon copies of the document that are notarized.
Q: Does notarizing the signer’s signature legalize a document?
A: Notarizing a document is not enough to make it legal or authentic. The purpose of notarizing the document is to ensure that it is “recordable”. The notary public who performs the notarization cannot be held responsible for the validity of information in the document. However, the statutes and guides in most states instruct the notaries public to alert the signer to any blanks in the document being signed. Bear in mind that proper notarization is a key to detecting and deterring fraud especially for documents that have to do with the financial, business, legal and real estate communities.
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