FIRST – Always qualify the signer by using proper ID. There are eight Identification cards that are acceptable under California state law. If no ID is available, the signer may use a credible witness or two credible witnesses. Use the ID Checking Guide to verify the validity of the identification. Ask your signer up front if he or she is willing to leave a thumbprint in your journal if the document involves real property or is an original Power of Attorney.
SECOND – Completing a journal entry should always be your next step as it helps protect you legally from liability. A complete and accurate journal entry demonstrates that you did your job correctly. You may only keep one active journal at a time and all your notarial acts must be recorded. Keep your journal under lock and key as the state requires. You are the only one that should have access.
THIRD – A document is not officially notarized until you complete the notarial wording, sign and stamp your Notary seal.
Notarizations are usually straight forward but missteps can expose you to legal liability. The two most common causes of liability are the failure to properly identify your signer and require personal appearance of your document signer. Although lawsuits against Notaries are rare, bE sure to follow these simple measures to avoid any chance of finding yourself in any hot water.