who what when

Six Key Facts to Collect for your Notary Journal

Even if you aren’t required by law to maintain a notary journal, noting a few key facts about the documents you are asked to notarize may some day save a relationship with a favorite client  or vindicate you if you are accused of wrongdoing as a notary public.

What facts should you collect for your notary record book?

If your state’s notarial laws require you to keep a record of your notarial acts in a notary journal, notary log, notary register or notary record book; you must collect the information that your state requires.  However, you might want to add six mental prompts to your notary routine so that you know that you have identified clearly the act and the document you notarized as well as the events surrounding those few moments you were with the signer.

This list of prompts and bullet points (as shown below) are not set in stone!  Change them up so that they make the most sense to you.  

This is my routine and the basic questions I ask myself while I am documenting notarial acts in my notary journal.  I let the prompts “drive the train” so to speak to help me collect all that my notarial laws require of me.  The more experienced you get at collecting facts for a notary journal, the quicker you will be able to zip through your notary journal tasks.

Who, what, when, where, how, and why?

Notaries who have laws requiring them to enter specific details of all notarial acts into a notary journal, as well as those who are not required keep notary records, may find that the prompts below helpful.  When I am logging a notarial act into my own notary journal, I go down this list and ask myself who, what, when, where, how, and why about every notarial act I perform. You may be surprised at how much these six words can help you remember when completing journal entries.  

Who?

Who is involved in the notarial act? During the Who prompt, you’ll need to round up all the people involved and get them identified.

  • Who is/are the signer(s) and witnesses, if any?
  • Who else is mentioned in the document? Some states require that notaries collect information about grantors and grantees in their journals and usually the grantor is executing the document.  Therefore, some states encourage notaries to pluck names other than signers out of documents to register in their notary record books.  For instance, if you are notarizing a power of attorney,  you must identify the name of the attorney-in-fact (grantee) receiving the power(s) from the principal (grantor).   If you are handling a deed, you are likely meeting with the seller/giver of the property (grantor).  Try noting also in your notary journal the name of the property buyer/recipient (grantee) mentioned in the document.  
  • Who was present when the document was signed besides the individuals mentioned above? Perhaps you want to note that the housekeeper is buzzing about the room when documents rae signed.  
  •  The Who Confirmation–in other words–identification. Note that you know WHO these people are because (1) you saw ID, (2) you personally knew the signers and others, or (3) you were made aware of their ID through use of two (or less) credible witnesses, and you were introduced to the signers.  (Who was/were credible witness(es), if any?)

What?

On what document are you performing a notarial act?

  • Title of the document
  • If no title, the type of document, or a brief description of the document.

When?

When is the document being notarized?

  • Write in the date that you performed the notarial act.
  • You may also note the time that the document was signed.
  • It’s a great idea to identify other dates on the document, like “document date” or “effective date.”

Where?

Where is the document being notarized?

  • Indicate the address where you meet with the signer, including the county and state where you meet.
  • Suppose you meet at a place other than a home.  In your journal, you may choose to write:  Starbucks on Briarcrest, Bryan, Brazos County, TX, it’s a great reminder to ensure that the venue (State of ___; County of ___) is written correctly on the notarial certificate.

How?

How is the document being notarized?

I use this prompt to think of “Examples of HOW I notarized lawfully and correctly.”   I list an abbreviations of type of notarial certificate that I used; it also helps me to remember to make note that I delivered a verbal ceremony and checked for completeness of the document (no blanks). You can see more examples of how I notarize lawfully in the bullet points. 

  • Ack w/ VC (Meaning “Certificate of Acknowledgment with verbal ceremony.”)
  • Jurat w/ VC (Meaning “Jurat with verbal ceremony.”)
  • No blanks or 0 blanks (Meaning “I scanned for completeness.”)
  • SrBA! ro SBA! (“Senior, but alert!” Years ago, I settled upon the terms “senior” and “persons of advanced age” to use while writing helpful articles for notaries because my own mother who is now 86 years old liked it better than “the elderly.”)
  • Collected finger print.
  • Any other notations that help you remember that you followed your rules.

Why?

Why did this notarial act occur?

 If you can’t figure out quickly why a notarial act occurred, then don’t feel obligated to answer this question unless this is something that goes along with your state’s notary journal laws.  I use it to remember to note activities like the following –

  • Mortgage to Prosperity Bank; property on 208 W. Navarro Blvd. 77845 (strip center)
  • Minor Child (J.D 9-Y-O) Velasco Elementary Field Trip on 3/5/19
  • Affidavit of Heirship – by Mazie Smith, affiant – regarding Cy & Temple

Is there space for all this information?

My handwriting is messy and large. I don’t worry about how much space I take up on a journal page. If it takes a few lines, that’s what I use.

 Worthwhile? Yes, definitely.

It is definitely worth my time to collect and note facts about notarial acts in my notary record book.

The other day, a client who gives me hundreds of dollars of work each quarter called  wondering why I didn’t send back an affidavit of heirship he had asked me to notarized.  

He told me the name of the file and said it was to be signed by “Aunt Billie Ruth Brown.”  He explained that  I had not sent it back with the three other documents.  To make matters interesting, the assignment had occurred one year previously. I could not remember much about this case. 

I dug back to last January in my notary journal. 

Would there be explicit information about why this had happen?  Yes, there was!  I found the page which said that I had notarized three documents—they were regarding Mazie Smith inheriting property from her mother, Temple.

  • I notarized one with Mazie’s signature regarding her parents Cy and Temple.
  • Another affidavit was signed by Aunt Bonnie. She mentioned a fellow named John Smith in her affidavit.
  • I had also notarized an affidavit of heirship signed by the deceased mother’s hairdresser. The hairdresser’s name was CoCo.  CoCo’s affidavit mentioned a woman named Irma.

The location, time and date were all included on my notary journal entry.  Fortunately,  I had not only inserted the signer’s name in my journal, but also the names mentioned in the affidavits–this is something I do out of habit.  It’s part of my Who prompt.

My journal also said that the client Mazie Smith told me that she was going to take the affidavit that mentioned “Tom T.” to her Aunt Billie Ruth; they would meet at HEB and Mazie would mail the document back to the lawyer herself.

 I copied that page of my journal for the lawyer, sent it to him, and he apologized immediately for thinking I had lost the document or was negligent in my handling of his assignment to me.   He said, “We dropped the ball, obviously you didn’t.”  He went on to explain they had moved to a new office and he feared it had been lost. 

I continue to receive notary assignments from the same client as well as from his colleagues in the firm.

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