Notary Public Exam
With so much concern about identity theft and fraud, the Notary Public is a “witness for the people” as to the identity of the signer of a legal document. Because of the importance courts give to notarized documents, some states added required training plus an exam for anyone who wants to become a notary.
Here’s just some of what is tested in the Notary Public exam:
1. Integrity – The exam begins with an affidavit that the applicant actually completed the full course. This affidavit is signed “under penalty of perjury”.
2. Public service – The Notary Public is commissioned by a state to help protect against fraud by the signer. Let’s say a man signed his brother’s name to sell the family home then years later the brother shows up to say he never signed anything! If a notary did the job correctly, checking a valid id of the signer could prevent that situation.
3. Acknowledgement or Affidavit – The Notary Public must know the difference between these and what procedures to follow.
4. Legal definitions – Quit Claim Deed, Advanced Health Care Directive, Demand Debts, Deed of Reconvayence . . . these are just a few of the legal definitions that a notary needs to understand and identify.
5. Keeping the Notary Journal – The notary must know how to record transactions and note proof of identity so it could stand up in court if needed.
6. Use of stamp and seal – These are the official tools of a notary, kept secure and only used by the notary. A fingerprint pad and cards may also be needed for identification in some instances. The penalties for allowing others to use these tools are serious.
7. Securing a bond – A notary cannot start working without securing a surety bond in the amount required by the state.
8. Know your boss – A Notary Public can set up shop as an independent business person, presenting services to the public or as an employee of a business, government agency or school. An independent notary collects fees for services but a notary as employee may not be allowed to charge fees if the employer pays for the notary expenses.
9. Recognize conflicts of interest – A notary who has a “beneficial interest” in property, estate or any transaction cannot notarize documents related to that interest. Understanding what roles create that conflict is necessary for the notary.
10. What to say and when to say it – In administering oaths or gaining information for identification, the Notary Public must know what to ask and what written or spoken words are necessary to complete the process.
11. To copy or not to copy – The notary must know what conditions are necessary for notarizing a document as a certified copy.
12. Who knows? – What procedures can the Notary Public use to validate a signer’s identity as personally known, known by a witness or by government issue i.d.
A candidate needs a 70% score to pass the multiple choice, computerized notary public exam.