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What is a Notary Public and/or a Notary Signing Agent?

posted May 29, 2016, 5:17 PM by AG Pro Serve Intl.   [ updated May 29, 2016, 5:44 PM ]

As an Employment Specialist, volunteer & unremunerated work I also provide, I have been talking to some people, who are either unemployed or seeking for credible ways to earn an extra income, about becoming a notary public. Many of them expressed concerned since they don’t know what it entails and some even think they needed to have a law degree. So I hope to clarify what a Notary Public is and not and possibly help someone who might be interested in become one but is a bit intimidated or afraid it is too involved or need to attend school for that, like a friend from CO thought. I’ll write about the duties and responsibilities on another post.

So, What is a Notary Public?

A Notary Public is a public official of integrity screened and appointed by the state government to serve the public as an impartial, trusted witness related to the signing of documents to deter fraud by performing official acts called notarial acts or notarizations. A Notary Public examines signers of sensitive documents for their true identity, willingness to sign voluntarily (of their free will), and their awareness of the content of the document they are signing. Some notarizations will require the Notary to place the signer under oath. A Notary Public is not a lawyer neither needs to have a law degree to be appointed so you will not need to provide legal advice at all, in fact, you cannot! It would be illegal to do such. A lawyer who is also a Notary Public may do so, but a Notary Public who is not a lawyer may not!

A sample of a notarized document from Pakistan.

Image via Wikipedia

Hence, as impartial official representatives of the state, Notaries simply certify that crucial documents such as wills, real state/property deeds, power of attorney, prenuptial agreements, etc. are properly executed, the signers are who they portray, are aware, know what the document is about, and are willing to sign without pressure or intimidation. Therefore, the people involved can trust that the document is authentic and that the official, notary, has no personal interest in the transaction. In addition, another element of being impartial means that a notary cannot refuse to serve anyone based on race, nationality, religion, politics, sexual orientation or status as a non-customer.

So as you see, a Notary Public is simply an official who plays a vital role in society, who needs to have high integrity and be impartial to certify that the signatures of the people signing a document belong to them (putting them under oath when required), to certify their willingness to do so, and that they know, understand what they are signing. It’s not rocket science and you can do it; you can also become a notary public for your state to serve your community as an impartial, trusted witness!

Now, a Notary Signing Agent is a notary who not only does regular notary services but also has been trained particularly to assist in mortgage closing by couriering various documents such as loan documents, collecting and notarizing signatures, and delivering settlement checks from mortgage lenders, title firms, escrow companies to their clients, borrowers, and vice versa. You  need training and become or be familiar with several loan documents; it’s a bit more involved. I obtained my training and certification through American Society of Notaries (ASN), but this is a very basic training similar to the one to become a notary, a bunch of theories that doesn't really gives you hands on training. IF you want a really good training, take it with Carol Ray at Notary2Pro

I heard of her on LinkedIn; she's highly recommended by others. The course offers a variety of options and the training includes actual documents that you need to familiarize yourself, if not yet, and aside from all that, she's an incredible human being! I owe it to her my training, literally! I'm not recommending her because I will get something in return, it's simply because she's not only a great person but also because she has put together a great course! IF you want to be a signing agent from scratch (without any experience) or need more training, then you should seriously consider her course because it will prepare you to really handle loan documents!

So, a Signing Agent simply make it convenient for lenders, title companies, etc. and borrowers to close their transactions, but does not work for any of them; he or she is an independent contractor who can be hired by multiple companies.  Also, a Signing Agent goes to great lengths to keep those documents safe and private, and does not need to answer any questions to the borrower about the particular terms of the transaction; he or she simply remind the person or people involved to contact their loan officer to discuss that further (similarly to notaries who are also not attorneys and cannot provide any legal explanation or give legal advice). You can be a Notary Public without being a Signing Agent, but to be a Signing Agent, you need to be a Notary Public!

Another point is that the E&O insurance for Notaries do not cover Signing Agents! You need to find another insurance company for that; yes, it is added expense.

To be a Notary Public or a Notary Signing Agent can be a great thing for many reasons, enhance your résumé and attract those employers who are interested in hiring someone with those credentials and skills, expand your skills and abilities to offer service and be paid for it, can be a valid self-employment opportunity or a way to make extra money, but I remind you that it is not a way to become rich quickly!

Please leave any comments or questions; I’d love to hear from you!

Why I Decided to Become a Notary Public and Signing Agent, Too - 2012

posted Jul 10, 2012, 11:39 AM by A. Jackson   [ updated Jul 10, 2012, 8:00 PM ]

At the notary

"A Notary Public?" I said that when my boyfriend suggested last year that I could become one to supplement my income. He said, "Yes, you can do it on your own hours and make an extra income; it's not hard." I was listening. He gave me a brief summary on what it was needed and the requirements, and that's all it took for me to be interested. I started searching articles and current notaries to find out what's entailed, and really liked what I found out! It's something I can do on on my schedule. Aside from the fact that I long to be self-employed and have more control over my time and to work with things I'm passionate about, I truly enjoy helping and serving people!

Even though I'm currently employed full-time, we don't know what tomorrow may bring in the economy we are currently  experiencing. We can no longer acquire one or two skills, or even a degree, and think we are set for the rest of our lives. Our time is more dynamic and changing as fast as we think. We need to be learning new things constantly and adapting faster than ever to new ways of doing things especially when it comes to communication and technology; we need to be literate and skilled in multiple things and see what we can use for our own benefit so that we can help ourselves and others in the process. It's better to know how to do something and not need than to need to know how and not know. Opportunities don't keep on knocking on our doors so it's better to be ready to open the door when they do!

So along with working, I also attend school full-time as I pursue a degree in International Relations, and in the future, a degree in the medical field that is yet to be determined; the latter will enable me to serve people better when I go in humanitarian missions. I'm also a freelance translator in the languages: Brazilian Portuguese & American English. Learning languages and translating are some of my passions. Therefore, adding a notary and signing agent title and skills on my résumé and  learning how to do those things will not only enable me to earn an income aside from my current job but also be prepared for many opportunities ahead which may even be the possibility to open my business.

I already took the Notary Education Program, registered with Florida Notary Service, and there are only two more step to go before I become one, and I'm on top of them! As soon as I am officially one, I'll be posting the great news! In the mean time, I'll be posting information on what notaries and signing agents are and do, tips, FAQ,  translation, etc.

All I know is that aside from dying, there are no guarantees in life, but one thing I'm sure of is that I won't regret being prepared!

p.s.: Knowing what I know now about becoming a Signing Agent, I would have waited until I'd be more comfortable with different types of things to notarize to then become a S.A.! ;-) 

by Alessandra Jackson

AG Pro Serve