2007 First Quarter
A M E R I C A N A S S O C I AT I O N O F N O TA R I E S
It’s OKto Say No
By Joanna L. Lilly
Notaries, are people putting too many demands on your
time? Stress contributes to much of the frustration and
even illness we experience in our work and family lives.
We’re pulled in many directions and often made to feel so
guilty that we’re shamed into doing things we don’t want
Sometimes you just have to say no, and that’s ok.
We all have heavy loads already, and when a customer
needs a notarization and you have a full work load, you
may not be able to stop what you’re doing and help. You
can graciously decline and perhaps refer the customer to
another notary at your location or elsewhere. It’s great to
offer notary services to customers, but not at the expense
of getting your other work done, unless all you do is
handle notary services for your customers.
Notaries often find themselves stretched in other areas, too.
If a colleague in your office asks for help with another
project, and you feel you absolutely cannot take on more
work, say no. It’s better to decline than to do a poor job or
not meet a deadline.
If the request for help involves work you are not comfortable
with or have insufficient skills in, say so.
If your assistance with a project would mean not meeting
your own deadlines, explain that you have already
committed to the first project and cannot allow the time
necessary to complete the new one and still meet your own
Perhaps you can help in a smaller way than the original
request – ‘I can’t help with the spreadsheet research but I’ll
be happy to input the data for you later’.
Saying No to a Notarization
Saying no to a notarization is not as easy as it sounds.
Some states state that you are an officer of the state and
expect you to notarize if at all possible. Some states do not
address it. If the company you work for wants you to be
available to the public, you should comply for a request for
a notarization unless you have a strong reason not to, such
■ the signer will not personally appear before you;
■ the signer has no appropriate identification;
■ the signer does not understand the transaction
■ the signer doesn’t speak the language the document
is written in and there is no translator;
■ you suspect or have knowledge that the act is
inappropriate or fraudulent.
If you notarize for clients but not for the general public
(non-clients) you should explain that it is not discriminatory
to only notarize for clients but that it is a benefit of being a
client, account holder, whatever the business is, and
encourage the requestor to open an account so that they
too may enjoy the benefits you offer.
If you do notarize for the public but at the time the request
is made you are absolutely unable to stop and notarize
when asked, you can invite the person making the request
to return at a later time (give a time frame) and you will be
happy to help them.
If you are asked to volunteer for church, school, or civic
organizations, the Jr. League, fundraisers, or other good
reasons, if you have the time to participate, then do. But if
you don’t, don’t be afraid to decline. Just say no –
■ No, I work so many hours already, I need to spend my
off time with my family.
■ No, I already teach a Sunday school class, I don’t have
additional time for your fundraiser.
■ No, thank you for thinking of me but I travel so much
I need to devote some off-time to household matters.
■ No, I’m traveling with my husband this weekend and
we’re so looking forward to it!
Then go, and do, and don’t spend a moment in guilt for
saying no. It’s your life, and it’s a great thing to offer help
when and where you can. But when your plate is full,
don’t take on more work. Don’t offer your notary services
to customers or friends on weekends or evenings unless
you want to or you supplement your income that way.
Just say no, and enjoy the freedom that brings. Enjoy your
family, meet your work deadlines, and feel good about
what you’ve accomplished.
in the Office
FIRST QUARTER 2007
VOLUME 4, ISSUE 1
N O T A R Y
Secretary of the Commonwealth Pedro A. Cortés and
Basil L. Merenda, Acting Deputy Secretary for
Regulatory Programs and Commissioner of the
Department’s Bureau of Professional and
Occupational Affairs, announced disciplinary
actions against commissioned notaries public.
William R. Bishop of Bethel Park had his notary
commission suspended for a period of two years,
18 months active and six months stayed in favor of
probation. Bishop improperly notarized a mortgage
with himself as mortgagee and notary public, in that
Bishop is a party directly or pecuniary interested, and
also has an entry dated April 19, 2001 from a mortgage
dated April 18, 2001. Bishop was also ordered to
attend a notary public practice and procedure review
course and was assessed a $300 civil penalty. .
Bernadette M. Bundy of Devon was assessed a $500
civil penalty because Bundy failed to be sworn in for
her 2001-2005 commission.
A complete list of sanctions is available online at
www.state.pa.us Keyword: licensing disciplinary
Mexico – US Notary Differences
Editor’s Note: We’re constantly seeing instances of
notaries facing criminal charges for use of the term
‘notario’ and practicing law without a license. A
considerable amount of fraud is done in our country
by notaries taking advantage of people from other
countries who think our notaries are also attorneys,
and severe penalties are handed out nationwide.
Here is an article from Canada describing what
Mexican notaries do; a notary commission there
imparts considerable authority:
N E W S
Notary public key - Good to know something about
‘notarios’ when buying property in Mexico
By Alan Caplan, Edmunton (Canada) Sun,
BUCERIAS, Mexico - A Mexican notary public, or
“notario,” is a dual functionary. That mouthful means
although he acts as a private advisor to the parties to
the transaction, he represents the interests of the
Mexican government as well.
Mexico is officially the United States of Mexico, with
31 states plus the Federal District of Mexico, a designated area similar to Washington, D.C. The governor
of each state appoints all the notaries who practice
in his jurisdiction.
Notaries begin as attorneys and apply to be appointed
after five years in practice. Generally, they’re known
numerically, from the order in which they’re appointed.
So, notario No. 1, for instance, is the first one
appointed in the state.
Similar to the function of a Canadian notary public
(who’s usually a lawyer), he “gives faith” to the validity of signatures, ensuring that the people who sign
the deed are in fact who they say they are. But that’s
just about where the similarity ends.
The notary in Mexico has wide duties in a transfer or
sale of property. He’s responsible for determining the
type of, and drafting, the deed in the required official
format, of course, but additionally calculates the
seller’s capital gains taxes and the buyer’s acquisition
taxes (generally about 2% of the value of the transfer),
a federal value-added sales tax similar to the GST,
called IVA (10% in the Baja and 15% elsewhere in
Mexico). He withholds and remits these taxes to the
government, as well as any unpaid property taxes.
He arranges to set up or transfer the fideicomiso bank
trust for the buyer and obtain all the permissions and
After he’s explained the terms and legal significance
of the documents covering the transaction to the
buyer and seller and is satisfied that all the parties are
sufficiently aware, the documents are signed and
sealed by the notary.
His final function is to register all the documents with
the appropriate authorities, such as land registry and
tax offices (making sure all unpaid property taxes are
brought current), as well as the Foreign Investment
Registry, and to provide fully certified copies of all
the documents to all parties, including the bank
This broad scope means notary fees, set annually by
the Mexican College of Notaries Public, are somewhat higher than we expect, generally based on the
value of the property transfer.
The full story may be found here:
Why did Melinda Duckett become a notary?
Police unsure if the answer will lead them to Trenton.
By Austin L. Miller, Star-Banner,
reprinted by permission.
OCALA - Investigators have discovered that Melinda
Duckett became a notary public three weeks before
she reported her 2-year-old son, Trenton, missing
from her Leesburg apartment, and they want to know
“Did she need it for a job? Why at that time?” asked
Detective Rhonda Stroup with the Marion County
Stroup said Duckett became a notary public on Aug. 1.
Duckett reported her son missing from her Leesburg
home on Aug. 27 and committed suicide 12 days
later, on Sept. 8, at the home of her grandparents in
Maj. Chris Blair, head of the Sheriff’s Office Major
Crimes Bureau, said “it’s too early” to say if she used
her position as a notary to falsify any documents in
relation to her son’s disappearance.
“It’s something we’ve got to examine,” Blair said.
The full story may be found here:
and we will provide updates whenever possible.
Resolving Conflicts in the Office
We’ve all had them. Occasionally a situation arises with a coworker and
hurt feelings or anger is the result. If this happens, it is best to resolve your
differences quickly and get over it. Stress between colleagues can lead to
diminished productivity at work, and can make a pleasant and enjoyable
work environment suddenly intolerable.
Here are a few tips to avoid or resolve conflicts:
■ Know the facts. Don’t go by hearsay. If you have heard rumors that
someone has said or done something, go to the source for confirmation.
■ If a criticism was issued about you, was it founded or accurate? If so, you
may need to make some changes. Accept it as constructive criticism and
improve the way you interact with others. If unfounded, again, go to the
source to find out why the criticism was made.
■ Try to resolve the problem with the individual involved, not the entire
office. Don’t gossip about it; don’t try to enlist other staff on your side.
Office gossip kills morale.
■ Treat the one you have a conflict with as you would have them treat you
– be respectful and courteous but state your case and just understand that
everyone has their own opinions and they won’t always line up with
And always, if you must offer criticism, keep your criticism constructive and
never destructive. If a colleague works with you on a project, be certain
that credit is given as warranted, and praise is offered for a job well done. The
work environment is much like the home – conflicts may occasionally arise,
but should be dealt with quickly with kindness and diplomacy, and quickly
corrected, to ensure a cohesive and comfortable environment.
AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF NOTARIES
A Health Savings Account
Is it Right for
Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) were created by Public Law 108173, the “Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and
Modernization Act of 2003,” signed into law by President Bush on
December 8, 2003. Health Savings Accounts will change the way
millions meet their health care needs because they are designed to
help individuals save for qualified medical and retiree health
expenses on a tax-advantaged basis.
Any adult who is covered by a high-deductible health plan (and
has no other first-dollar coverage) may establish an HSA. Taxadvantaged contributions can be made in three ways:
1. the individual or family can make tax deductible contributions to
the HSA even if they do not itemize deductions;
2. the individual’s employer can make contributions that are not
taxed to either the employer or the employee; and,
3. employers sponsoring cafeteria plans can allow employees to
contribute untaxed salary through salary reduction.
To encourage saving for health expenses after retirement,
individuals age 55 and older are allowed to make additional
catch-up contributions to their HSAs. Once an individual enrolls in
Medicare they are no longer eligible to contribute to their HSA.
Amounts contributed to an HSA belong to the account holder and
are completely portable. Funds in the account can grow tax-free
through investment earnings, just like an IRA.
Funds distributed from the HSA are not taxed if they are used to pay
qualified medical expenses. Unlike amounts in Flexible Spending
Arrangements that are forfeited if not used by the end of the year,
unused funds remain available for use in later years.
For more information, visit http://www.ustreas.gov/offices/
publicaffairs/hsa/ and contact your financial or tax advisor.
How to Obtain Copies of Passport Records
If your customer requests copies of a passport, there are two options for obtaining copies
of passport records, according to the Department of State. Their website has a wealth of
information including a checklist of instructions on procedures. Share these instructions
with your customer by sending them to:
For full details on passport protocol, visit http://travel.state.gov/.
Did You Know?
We’ll bring you interesting facts about the
early laws and show that times have indeed
changed since our country’s beginnings… for
instance, in early times in US law, women
were treated quite differently than they are
now: The following was taken from “The
American Notary And Commissioner of
Deeds Manual” by Edward Mills Jones,
Second Edition 1904:
§ 177: Acknowledgment by wife; private
In Illinois formerly it was essential that in a
deed conveying the wife’s estate the certificate
of acknowledgment should state that she was
examined separately and apart from her
Announcing the New
American Association of Notaries
Sign up today!
To sign up for membership and take advantage
of all of our benefits, contact us toll-free today
at 1-800-721-2663 or visit us online at
FIRST QUARTER 2007
husband and that the contents of the deed
were made known and explained to her.
Failing to so state made the deed as to her
and her heirs void. This is not so now, she
can transfer as if a femme solo. Many states
permit her to convey her separate estate
without her husband’s joining. Tennessee so
permits, if she has a privy examination before
a chancellor or circuit judge of the state or
clerk of the county court.
The separate acknowledgment before another
notary other than the husband’s must show
that it was her free act, a separate examination,
a voluntary act by her, and that she is still
Our new AAN Member Program includes:
■ The American Association of Notaries e-notary record
■ The Notary Digest newsletter and NEW notary e-zine,
■ Discounted supplies for members,
■ Search features for laws and FAQs,
■ Archives of past issues of AAN newsletters,
■ Automatic Calendar email notification – personal
reminder of membership expiration dates and
commission expiration dates,
■ Notary and Signing Agent locator, and
■ Membership point rewards for purchases.
Notary Name Change?
In some states if a notary changes her or his
name they simply wait for the renewal of the
commission to implement the name change.
In other states, there are strict laws requiring
the immediate notification of the state notary
administrators and an immediate name
change process must begin. Some states, like
Florida, insist on being notified immediately
of a change of address, employment, or
phone numbers, so it is important to know
your state’s notary laws fully and follow them
As a member of the American Association of
Notaries, you have full access to state laws
on our members website. To sign up for
membership and take advantage of all of
our benefits, contact us toll-free today at
1-800-721-2663 or visit us online at
www.usnotaries.com. If you are already a
member, we urge you to utilize our state laws
Notary Journal Contest!
We need your stories! We want to hear from
you about how maintaining your notary
journal was valuable in some way – have you
had to prove a signer appeared before you?
Have you had to prove what type document
was notarized? Email us with your story or
mail it to the address on the back of this
newsletter, and the winner will receive a new
Secureprint Hardcover Notary Journal and
invisible inkless thumbprinter absolutely
John Calvin Coolidge,
Father of President Calvin Coolidge –
When (President Warren G.) Harding died of a heart attack in
August 1923, Vice President Coolidge was visiting his father’s
farmhouse in Plymouth Notch, Vt. – a tiny hamlet nestled in
the Green Mountains where he was raised. The news of the
president’s passing reached the farm after midnight, and
Coolidge was sworn in as president – by his father, a notary
public – in a small parlor by the glow of a kerosene lamp. Had
Coolidge and Barton planned the scene, they couldn’t have
devised more propitious atmospherics: The spare, rural tableau
exuded the New England virtues of simplicity, piety, and duty
that Coolidge had long traded on in cultivating his image. The
tone for his presidency was set.
David Greenberg, a professor of history and of journalism and
media studies at Rutgers University, is the author of “Calvin
Coolidge,” recently published by Henry Holt, and “Nixon’s
Shadow: The History of an Image” (2003).
A notarized document, if being sent for processing in another country,
will possibly need a certification or an Apostille attached to it. The
Apostille is a testimonial to the authenticity and validity of the notary’s
commission at the time of a notarization. It is the signer’s responsibility
to obtain the Apostille once the document is notarized, not the
notary’s, but it would be very helpful for the notary to guide the
signer in where to obtain one.
The notary administrator’s office for your state will be able to give
instruction for the process to follow. There is usually a small fee and
the document custodian will send the notarized document into
the Apostille office, where they will issue the Apostille and send the
document on to its destination. Check with your state administrators
for details; most are posted on the state’s Notary website. Then you
can pass this information on when asked by your signers.
Quotations that Define Us
“All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance
and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”
Dr. Martin Luther King
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens
can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
The American Association of Notaries
P.O. Box 630601
Houston, Texas 77263
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