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Have you ever thought, or heard someone say...

Notarization is "no big deal."  A Notary just watches you sign the document and then signs their mame and stamps the document with their seal.


When asked to notarize a document, a knowledgeable, prudent 
and honest, Notary will:

STEP 1.     Insist that the signer appears before them, in person, and will confirm that the signer is able to communicate with them in a language they are fluent in, so that Steps 2 - 7, below, may be accomplished.

STEP 2.     Require that the signer provide current (unexpired) positive identification (as required by Hawaii law -- this is not simply any piece of identification).      

STEP 3.     Carefully compare the picture on the I.D. with the person appearing before the Notary and carefully examine the identification presented for signs of alteration.

STEP 4.     Examine the document presented to insure there are no blank lines or interlineations that must be initialed by the signer and that all pages are included.  The Notary will also insure that if the documents refers to any attached exhibits or other attached documents that those documents are, in fact, attached, and will not notarize an incomplete document.

STEP 5.Enter the required information from the document and the signer's I.D. into the Journal of Notarial Acts and ask the signer to sign the Journal.

STEP 6.Carefully compare the signatures on the document, on the I.D. and in the Journal.  All three signatures must be substantially the same or the Notary should not notarize.

STEP 7.      During the course of accomplishing all of the foregoing steps, and in the process of  communicating with the signer, the Notary will determine whether or not the signer is appears to be aware of the effect and importance of the document they are signing and whether they are signing the document of their own free act and deed (wording directly from the Acknowledgement Certificate).  

If in doubt, the Notary may engage the signer in further conversation to determine the degree of awareness and willingness.  If the Notary continues to be in doubt as to either the signer's identity, awareness or willingness, then the Notary must not notarize the document.   

In addition, a Notary must not participate in notarizing documents in what the Notary knows pr suspects to be a fraudulent transaction.  The ULTIMATE responsibility for properly notarizing a document falls on the Notary and the Notary alone.  It is the Notary's commission that is at stake and the Notary is personally liable if he/she fails to act in an honest and prudent manner.

All of the above steps must be accomplished in order for a Notary to legally complete a Notarial Acknowledgment Certificate that reads (wording for certificate specified by state law):

On this _____ day of ____________________, 20__,  before me personally      appeared (personal appearance) <THE NAME OF THE PERSON 
      SIGNING THE DOCUMENT>, to me known/personally known (positively identified
       OR personally known over an extended period of time) to be
      the person(s) who executed the foregoing instrument, and acknowledged
      (communicated with me in my language and to my satisfaction) that he/she/they
 executed the same as his/her/their free act and deed (aware of the contents and
     importance of the transaction and are signing it willingly -- under no
     undue duress or pressure from another person).

All four of the CORNERSTONES OF NOTARIZATION (Personal Appearance, Positive Identification, Awareness, Willingness) are addressed in the Acknowledgement Certificate and the Notary, by signing the certificate and affixing his/her official stamp and signature, is attesting to the fact that the Notary, by careful observation and interaction confirmed ALL four to be the true.

A notary who knowingly fails to accomplish ANY of the four steps is guilty
of completing a false notarial act that could result in monetary penalties of up to $1,000 and/or one year in jail, and/or loss of that notary's commission.  

A notary is a public official and asking a public official to knowingly break the law may carry severe civil and/or criminal penalties.
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