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

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 quite bit more involved. I obtained my training and certification through American Society of Notaries (ASN), but this was a very basic training similar to the one to become a notary: a bunch of theories that don’t really give 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!

by Alessandra Gomes

On My Way FL Notary S.A.