The Colorado Secretary of State has listed several common mistakes for notary publics to avoid on their website. Of course, all of these mistakes are also covered in our Colorado Notary Training, but since the state has specifically mentioned them, we feel it's essential to cover them here too. This is part two in a four-part series of blog posts.
Since notary publics deal with jurats regularly, it might sometimes be easy to move into "automatic pilot" mode and begin to stop paying attention to the specifics of the language of the document. This is when mistakes can happen. A notary public should treat every document as if it's the first one the notary has ever notarized. This way, the notary public will carefully consider all the required details. The Colorado notary public needs to read over all of the required information to ensure it is correct. Three common mistakes indicated by the office of the Secretary of State concerning jurats are:
- Notary publics sometimes erroneously include their name in the jurat form instead of the name of the person that is signing the document. Example: "Subscribed and affirmed before me this ___day of ___20__ by NAME." The NAME should be the signer/client's name, not the notary public's name.
- Documents sent overseas require an Apostille or a Certificate of Magistracy. Even though these documents are intended for foreign countries that may not use English as a primary language, these documents must be notarized in English. If the document also requires a foreign language notarization, the notary public may do so as long as the document is also notarized in English.
- For an oath or affirmation, the client/signer must sign the document in the presence of the notary public. A common error is to have the client/signer sign the notary public's journal in the presence of the notary public, but not the document. Remember that the notary public is stating that the document was signed in the presence of the notary when notarizing these documents, so the notary public must ensure that this is actually occurring or the statement in the jurat is not accurate. The signature of the signer/client must appear above the jurat on the document being notarized.
The state also cautions notaries public to carefully read the notarization statement, which is often included in the document being notarized. Sometimes these statements might have been prepared for states other than Colorado and contain statements outside the powers of a Colorado notary public. In some cases, signing these documents may even cause a notary public to be a party of the document rather than an unbiased witness.
Make sure to never complete a notarization on or affix your seal to an incomplete jurat.