Recording individual journal entries for a loan signing often feels like a tedious, thankless task, and on more than a few occasions we’ve heard stories about NSAs taking short cuts at the signing table — but it’s never a good idea to cut corners when taking down the details.
When faced with a dozen documents that need to be signed and notarized, it can be tempting to save time and effort by just making a single abbreviated Notary journal entry for all the notarial acts performed during the assignment. Don’t do it, because skimping on journal entries harms not only you, but the public you serve. Here’s why:
First of all, if you are commissioned in California or Hawaii, the state requires you to make a complete record of each notarization you perform. In 2010, the Notary Public Section of the California Secretary of State’s office clarified that Notaries may not use ditto marks to repeat the same information in successive journal entries, or use a diagonal signature line across multiple entries so a signer needs to only sign a journal page once. It further clarified that a full and complete journal entry is required for every document notarized, and that abbreviations for terms like “acknowledgment” are not permitted.
“It makes sense based on California law,” said William A. Anderson, the NNA’s Vice President of Legislative Affairs. “The statute in California requires Notaries to provide a photocopy of a journal entry to any member of the public who submits a proper written request. If a journal entry uses ditto marks or several entries are signed with a diagonal line, you can’t provide a complete copy of the journal entry.”
Even if you’re a Notary in a state other than California or Hawaii, there’s still good reason to maintain a well-kept journal and enter each notarization on a separate line. Doing so ensures that if someone needs that information in the future, it will be clear, understandable and readily available. Remember, document signers, law enforcement, the courts and Notary regulating officials all may need to access your journal at some point. Your journal entry should be so complete and neat that any person can easily obtain the information they are seeking without referring to another entry.
What’s more, if you are ever sued for negligence and must appear in court, the condition of your journal can make a critical impression on the judge and jury. A Notary who presents a well-kept, properly completed journal is far more likely to convince the court he or she acts responsibly and has a better chance of getting a lawsuit dismissed. On the other hand, a sloppy or badly-kept journal is more likely to lead a judge to conclude that you failed to notarize the document in question correctly and should be held liable.
“The way you keep your journal says a lot about you and how you do your job,” Anderson said.
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