Split Signings

3 Steps to Handling “Split Signing” Appointments

A “split signing”  is a type of notary signing appointment.  Being signed are real estate  or loan documents–the reason is it referred to as a split signing is because all of the signers can’t attend at the same time. Therefore, a transaction that would normally require one appointment will require at least two appointments.

Today, our example signers will be siblings–Jack Smith and Jill JonesJack are Jill are co-owners who are selling property that was left to them in equal shares by a deceased relative.

Here are three complicating factors — 

  • Jill lives Dallas, Texas.
  • Jack lives in Madison, Wisconsin.
  • The property is in Houston.

Unfortunately, when the documents were drawn up, the attorneys who drafted the documents for sellers Jack and Jill didn’t realize that they would not be signing at the same appointment in Houston.  As a result, the attorneys constructed the documents so that Jack and Jill would both sit down at a table in Houston, Texas.  However, the title company’s transaction coordinator is aware of the situation.  He knows that in order to get this transaction finalized, two notaries will be needed–one in Dallas, Texas and one in Madison, Wisconsin. 

The Original Notarial Certificates

The notary certificates that are pre-printed in the loan package look like this–another complicating factor.  Both Jack and Jill are mentioned in one certificate.

State of Texas

County of Harris

This instrument was acknowledged before me on ______ (date) by Jack Smith and Jill Jones.

Notary’s signature line.

Notary Public, State of Texas

Notary Name:__________________

Commission Expires: ____________

As you see, both Jack and Jill are mentioned in the same certificate. 

Let’s meet our notaries. 

  • Notary #1 – Ima Stamper, a notary in Dallas, Texas, will handle Jill’s part of the transaction.  
  • Notary #2 – Ursula Inker, a Wisconsin notary, will handle Jack’s transaction. 

Below are the steps that I recommend notaries take to manage this type of situation.

Step 1 

All notaries involved should recognize what “split signing” means as far as notary expectations.

One party will sign documents, then the other party will sign. This example is a seller’s package, which means that somewhere there is a purchase about to happen! 

All notaries involved must be ready to handle the assignment efficiently, check their work carefully, and be sure to drop documents to go to the next notary or to the title company in a timely manner. Otherwise, the entire process may have to be done again thereby delaying both sellers and purchasers.

Step 2 for Notary #1 

The first notary must ensure that (1) venue on each notarial certificate is correct and (2) only the names of signers appearing before the notary are stated.  

We have already discussed that two names appear on the certificate, but only one signer will meet with Ima Stamper.  As the first notary, Ima has two choices. (1) She can attach a corresponding notarial certificate (commonly called a “loose” certificate) with only her signer’s name in the certificate or (2) she can correct the one in the package.  Please note that by “corresponding” I mean if Ima is replacing a certificate of acknowledgment, she will use the same type of certificate, not another type of certificate

My personal choice as the first notary is to prepare a new certificate.  Why?  One of us will have to do it. If I can do it, I will.  I like to do that small courtesy for the next notary so that she can use the one in the document package if she chooses.

If Ima attaches a loose certificate, it will look like this:

State of Texas   §

County of Dallas §

This instrument was acknowledged before me on 7/1/19 by Jill Jones.

Ima Stamper (signature)                              

Notary Public, State of Texas                          NOTARY SEAL

Notary Name Printed:   Ima Stamper

Commission Expires: 3/3/2022

If Ima corrects the  certificate, it will look like this:

State of Texas    §

County of Harris  §  Dallas (I.S.)

This instrument was acknowledged before me

on 7/1/19 by Jack Smith and Jill Jones. (I.S.)

Ima Stamper (her signature)                              

Notary Public, State of Texas                          NOTARY SEAL

Notary Name Printed:   Ima Stamper

Commission Expires: 3/3/2022

Step 2 for Notary #2 

The second notary must also ensure that (1) the venue on each notarial certificate is correct and (2) only the names of signers appearing before the notary are stated.  

When Ursula receives the package, if Ima Stamper left the original certificate for her to use as Notary #2, Ursula will decide whether to correct the certificate or to attach a loose one. 

If Ursula attaches a certificate, it will look like this:

State of Wisconsin  §

County of Dane      §

This instrument was acknowledged before me on 7/2/19 by Jack Smith.

Ursula Inker (her signature)           

Notary Public, State of Wisconsin                         NOTARY SEAL

Notary Name Printed:   Ursula Inker

Commission Expires: 5/5/2021

If Ursula corrects a certificate, it will look like this:

State of Texas  Wisconsin (U.I.)

County of Harris  Dane (U.I.)

This instrument was acknowledged before me on 7/2/19 by Jack Smith and  Jill Jones.(U.I.)

Ursula Inker (her signature)                                     

Notary Public, State of Texas Wisconsin (U.I.)             NOTARY SEAL

Notary Name Printed:   Ursula Inker

Commission Expires: 5/5/2021

Step 3 for Both Notaries

Initial all changes.

The standard practice for correcting notarial certificates is that notaries initial changes, strike-outs, and insertions relating to the pre-printed text on a notarial certificate. The initials above are captured between parenthesis marks and printed in blue like this (U.I.) and (I.S.) to demonstrate how and where this author would initial the corrected certificates.

Last but not least…

Notaries need training.

The best way to be prepared for appointments like this is to take a basic notary course like the ones offered here on Notary.net You won’t go wrong with a moderately priced course right here!  The courses are video-based.  You won’t fall asleep reading dense text! 

A few more thoughts to wrap up this topic —

  • Notably, in all cases that I have handled, both parties sign the same set of documents.  I have seen packages where both (or all) parties received identical individual packets and signed them separately. In this case, after all signers executed the documents, the signature pages would be collected and added to one set of documents, but I have not seen that as a signing agent. 
  • In certain situations, you could also find yourself doing both sides of the appointment, but it is assumed in this article that the signers are in two states.
  • Keep in mind that notaries may only alter the text on certificates.  Notaries may not alter documents or signature lines.
  • Always make sure that the language in the certificates you are using is compliant with your state’s certificate language.
  • At Notary.net, we aren’t lawyers and we can’t provide legal advice. This is an example of how I handle certificates when one or more signers who are mentioned in a certificate are not present. 

July Bonus Marketing Tip

For all of you who read this far, I’m going to give you a quick thank you bonus — my best holiday marketing tip.

July 4th is just a week away.

People love seeing cute animals!  Do a public service announcement  as a local general notary work marketing campaign. Or, maybe you could send thoughtful reminders out to contacts and current clients that their precious pets should not be exposed to fireworks.  Search on Google with keywords that will bring up facts about this how many animals run away and are lost forever on holidays that bring out fireworks.  

You’ll need a few adorable pictures of cute kittens, puppies, cats, or dogs. Once you have those, use free versions of Canva  or Spark by Adobe to make an advertisement. (Don’t forget to mention that you are a notary professional and how you can be contacted!)

Prepare several ads now and post one where your local friends can see it on Facebook.  Ask them to share it.  The message is great and they will actually do it!

Do this daily or every other day through the week leading up to July 4th.

(This also works for the week before December 31st.)

Let us hear from you!

I get my ideas for articles from notaries. 

If you have a topic that you want to see explored, leave a comment.    

Stay cool on the 4th!  

Best, Brenda Stone

 

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