May-June 2014 INM Newsletter
Hello and welcome to the May/June edition of the INM newsletter. You’ll find a table of contents just below this introduction with links to each article.
Table of Contents
01. Overview of the 21st Annual Conference
02. What are Laws on Being a Mobile Notary for Real Estate Transactions?
03. Should You Ever Notarize an “I-9” Employment Eligibility and Verification Form?
04. Workplace Challenges for Notaries
05. “The Wedding Nurse” – A Home-Based Business
06. On Membership
07. Membership Challenge
08. Welcome New Members!
An Overview of the 21st Annual Conference
By Kathryn Darrah, outgoing Secretary
It was an amazing day of fun and education. The event was sold out early and many people had to wait to the last moment to secure a spot. Notary training is the mission of INM, and the conference delivered great topics and speakers.
With cups of coffee in hand, the morning started off with Kathy Montejo welcoming the attendees to this special event. An informational Notary 101 refresher course, taught by Cathy Beaudoin, the State’s Notary Officer, and Julie Flynn, Deputy Secretary of State, followed. As always, general notary practices were reviewed and discussed. The speakers fielded questions from the audience rounding out the workshop.
At each conference, the membership of INM holds an Annual Meeting to approve the minutes of the prior conference, review the activities and health of the organization, and approve the treasurer’s report for the previous calendar year. This year, the Annual Meeting’s agenda also included the Resolution to Dissolve INM. The Board of Directors labored over this issue for over 1 ½ years, and felt that the issue needed to be brought before the membership for a vote. Kathy Montejo moderated the meeting. The members were notified over the past several months via newsletter, emails, website, and social media of this important topic. However, little feedback was received from the members on this issue.
Members were directed to information in their conference folders on this topic. Kathy Montejo reviewed the handout detailing the reasons why the Board was recommending dissolving INM. Questions were answered; explanations were offered; details were given; a vote was taken. Active members of the organization were asked to cast a written vote. When the votes were counted by the Board, the Resolution to Dissolve was not approved. Members have elected to keep the organization going despite the leadership and financial issues that have plagued INM for many years.
Kathy Montejo requested that those members who were interested in serving their organization step forward immediately. Several did just that and gave their name to a Board Member. These individuals will be invited to the next Board of Directors meeting.
Following the Annual Meeting, Matt Dunlap, Secretary of State, spoke to the audience. Mr. Dunlap and his office are committed to helping Maine notaries. Please do not hesitate to contact their office with any questions you have.
The attendees were given opportunities to attend a variety of workshops after lunch. Gwen Cole led a wedding workshop which is always well received. Cathy Beaudoin and Julie Flynn offered a Notary 201 class which dealt with unusual situations for a notary. Jennifer Wells, an active mobile notary, spoke to those interested in learning more about mobile notary services. A small business panel workshop was offered this year with Steve Lovejoy (small business marketing) and Ann Harris (errors and omissions insurance). Lots of good information!
During the break times, attendees were encouraged to visit the vendors in the lobby. There were a great variety of products offered –cosmetics, purses, kitchen gadgets and cookbooks, notary supplies, notary stamps, insurance, and healthy juicing alternatives. Many raffles were drawn throughout the day, mixing a little fun with a serious day of education.
Our ever popular “Last Notary Standing” quiz show was hosted by Gwen Cole and Kathy Montejo. Six brave contestants volunteered to participate. Not one of the six was eliminated and all received a prize. There may have been a little help from the audience……
Finally, the iPad raffle was announced at the end of the conference. There was one mighty happy woman with the winning ticket of the “very adorable” iPad Mini. Congratulations!
Please check out the INM website often for educational opportunities in the future. The INM Facebook, LinkedIn, and Yahoo Listserv social media pages are great places to post questions about notary procedures and situations. Take advantage of the resources produced by the Secretary of State’s office. All these opportunities are available to you as a Maine Notary Public.
What are Laws on Being a Mobile Notary for Real Estate Transactions?
By Jennifer Wells
Know your Maine State laws for being a Notary, what is allowed and not allowed (other states/Signing Services/even lawyers from another state will try and get you to do more than you are allowed). If you know you are right don’t hesitate to argue with them and back your knowledge up with something from your Notary Law Book located on the State of Maine web site.
Know other state laws as far as needing a witness or more than one. They will typically have a witness section as well.
There are 4-5 States that require a witness or more.
Florida – 2 witnesses* for deeds** but not mortgages
Connecticut – 2 witnesses* for deeds and mortgages
Georgia – 2 witnesses* required for deeds and security deeds
Louisiana – 2 witnesses required for “authentic acts”
South Carolina – 2 witnesses for deeds
State of Maine does not allow a notary to be a witness and the notary on documents so make sure you have qualified people for witnessing when notarizing in Maine.
NNA has changed how things are to be done and most Signing Companies/Title Companies are also following this:
E&O Insurance (NNA is approved) not required by the State of Maine but advised to acquire some for your protection. I would suggest a min of $50k, but some have acquired $25k and been ok.
State of Maine does not require a bond
Background check needed (NNA is Approved)
Check with the NNA just to make sure I haven’t missed anything, yes it happens occasionally.
NNA – National Notary Association Please feel free to submit Questions for the next article on Mobile Notary and I will choose which to publish Jenn@jennsmobilenotaryservices.com Please include INM Newsletter Question in Subject line. Any other questions or comments or what you would like to see on the next issue please email me and I will do my best to get everyone answered and information for you.
Should You Ever Notarize an “I-9” Employment Eligibility and Verification Form?
By Kathy Montejo, INM member
At the April 2014 INM state notary conference, a question arose regarding the federal employment eligibility verification form commonly known as the “I-9” form. Is a notary authorized to sign an “I-9” form as a notary?
The answer comes to us from the American Society of Notaries organization:
Notaries asked to assist in the completion of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility and Verification, BEWARE: the uninitiated can easily be led into an unauthorized “notarization” or worse, notarization of one’s own signature.
What is the Form I-9?
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS; Department of Homeland Security) requires all employers to verify the employment eligibility and identity of employees (citizens and non-citizens) hired after November 6, 1986. Form I-9, Employment Eligibility and Verification, is utilized for this purpose. In this form, the employee provides certain personal information and attests to his/her eligibility to work. The verifying employer certifies performance of an in-person examination of the employee’s identification documents. The employer also certifies that the employee began work on a particular day and that “to the best of my knowledge” the employee is authorized to work in the United States.
Employer’s Authorized Representative
Often, and for a variety of reasons, the employer and employee are not able to meet in-person for execution of the Form I-9. (This is a more frequent occurrence nowadays with employees working from home via the internet and working for an out of state company, never having walked into the company headquarters.) When necessary, an employer may authorize a third party to act as its Authorized Representative. This third party must perform all actions required of the employer in the Form I-9 process, and complete Section 2 of the form—the Employer’s Review and Verification, and Certification statement.
An employer may designate anyone it chooses to be an Authorized Representative for execution of a Form I-9. Given their broad availability and experience in satisfactorily identifying their clients, notaries are among those seen as a logical choice to serve in this capacity.
Form I-9 Review and Verification: Not a “Notarization”!
Here’s where the issue becomes dangerous for unsuspecting notaries. Many employers ask notaries serving as their Authorized Representative to affix their notarial seal to the certification section of the Form I-9. Never do this: the Form I-9 does not require an authorized notarial act of any kind, for either the employee’s execution of the document or the Authorized Representative’s.
Still worse, employers frequently ask notaries serving as their Authorized Representative to complete additional forms that exceed the instructions provided by USCIS for the Form I-9. Typically, these forms have the notary/Authorized Representative attesting to various statements (“I attest that I am a Notary Public in good standing”; “I attest that I agree to act as Authorized Representative for ________”; etc.), then signing and sealing the same statement. This is a clear act of notarizing one’s own signature, which is expressly prohibited in all states.
Realize that if you agree to serve as an employer’s Authorized Representative, you are NOT serving as a notary in any capacity. The Form I-9 does NOT require a notarial act, therefore you must NOT affix your notarial seal impression on it. You are signing the form in the capacity of Authorized Representative of the verifying employer, so we recommend that you indicate “Authorized Representative” as your title, not “Notary Public.”
Since Authorized Representatives are designated by the verifying employer, such designation should come to you straight from the verifying employer, through direct verbal or written communications. It is less than ideal for the employee who is the subject of the Form I-9 to come to you because he’s been “told to find a notary.” Bottom line: if you have any doubts at all that you have been designated by the verifying employer to serve as an Authorized Representative, then decline to perform the service.
To protect yourself and avoid pitfalls such as performing non-authorized “notarial” acts or notarizing your own signature, consider these recommendations.
Always remember that anyone can be designated as an Authorized Representative for completion of a Form I-9. Notaries are sought out because they seem well-suited to perform an Authorized Representative’s tasks, not because the Form I-9 requires a notarial act (it does not).
The verifying employer should designate you as its Authorized Representative through direct verbal or written communications.
When signing the Certification statement on the Form I-9, realize that you are signing under penalty of perjury… don’t sign unless every word of that statement is true. (If the employee’s date of hire is blank or unavailable, we recommend that you not sign the Certification.) Your true capacity (title) would be “Authorized Representative,” not “Notary Public.”
Decline to serve as an Authorized Representative if you are asked to:
(a) Sign/seal the Form I-9 in your capacity as a notary;
(b) Affix your notary seal next to the Authorized Representative’s signature on the Form I-9;
(c) Complete a written statement of any kind that you are then expected to “notarize” yourself;
(d) Make any certifications as “Notary Public” unless you are performing a notarial act that is authorized by your state.
Some enterprising and entrepreneurial notaries who have created mobile notary businesses have actually made themselves available to employers to be appointed as their authorized representative and therefore can execute the document, but keep in mind they are doing this as an individual appointed by the company and not as a notary.
The best bet is to tell the customer that you are not an authorized representative of their employer and they should contact their employer to see who can provide this service for them. Their company may be willing to appoint you as their representative, but that is done outside of the realm of your notary commission.
Material for this article was obtained from the American Society of Notaries organization.
Workplace Challenges for Notaries
Many Notaries Public encounter issues when they are required to notarize documents at their place of employment. A Notary Public who is educated and confident on the proper procedures for notarizing documents is less likely to be coerced or taken advantage of in the workplace.
Some of the biggest challenges Notaries Public face today are:
Employers present documents to be notarized to the employee (Notary Public) and the customer that signed the document is not present or the employer presents the Notary Public with a document and the signer hasn’t actually signed the document yet. In both of these scenarios, often times, the Notary Public feels pressured by their supervisor and feels threatened that they may lose their job if they refuse to act. There is no exception to the personal appearance requirement. The signer must always personally appear before the Notary Public at the time of the notary transaction.
Employers don’t want their employees to maintain a record book. The employer finds this to be an inconvenience to their customers because it takes extra time and it is not statutorily required. The use of a record book protects the Notary Public, the employer and the customer. Although record keeping is not required, the Secretary of State’s office strongly recommends that Notaries Public record all notarial acts.
Employers don’t develop a policy regarding the employee’s (Notary Public) role and duties during employment hours. This can put the Notary Public in questionable situations when they are refusing to notarize documents. A policy should be developed and posted in the workplace’s public area for all the customers to see, so they are made aware of the limitations or fees associated with all notarial requests.
Employers attempt to control the employee’s Notary Public commission. While an employer may direct the employee’s notary activities during business hours, the employer has no say over an employee’s notary activities outside the workplace. This is true even if the employer paid for the employee’s Notary Commission; seal; stamp or record book; these all belong to the Notary Public, not the employer.
If you are experiencing these or similar type issues with your employer, you may wish to request a meeting to discuss your role and duties as a Notary Public. You should direct your employer to the Notary Public Handbook and applicable notary laws.
“The Wedding Nurse” – A Home-Based Business
By Gweneth E. Cole, RN, Notary Public
I was thinking some of you might be interested in how to set up a Home-Based Wedding Business. I have had one for over 20 years and I’d like to share some pointers with you.
First of all, decide on a catchy name. This can really make a difference when couples are looking at a list of options. A fun name will stand out and catch the eye.
Secondly, prepare advertising to let people know that you exist. There are several ways to accomplish this. I use all of them.
- Design a Logo. Again, this can be a good eye catcher.
- Set up a “dedicated” email address for the business. There are two ways to go with this. Use a disposal email (@yahoo.com or @gmail.com) or buy a Domain name to match your Business name. For example, @theweddingnurse.com.
- Print Business Cards. No matter where you go, there is always someone to “possibly” hand your card to. I was shopping in JoAnn Fabrics one time; the sales gal asked what I was going to do with all the ribbon; I told her about my business; someone heard my response and asked me, “Do you do same-sex Weddings?”. Out came my card!
- Set up a facebook Page (free) and/or a Website to go with your Domain name. For a long time, I just had a facebook Page but it wasn’t serving my needs once I started paying to advertise on the web. So, I set up www.theweddingnurse.com.
- Pay to advertise with a Wedding Website on the internet. There are many!! I pay for ads on www.enGaygedweddings.com, www.rainbowweddingnetwork.com and www.gayweddingsinmaine.com. I have free listings on several others.
Next you will want to set up a Fee Scale for the following categories: Ceremony Fee, Rehearsal Fee, Mileage and Lodging particulars.
Then develop a Contract, which states all of the services that you agree to provide. You can see a sample of mine on my web page.
Start what I like to call, a “Romance Library”. I buy all kinds of Wedding Books so that I can help the couple write meaningful Ceremonies. My experience has been that, most couples look to me to provide the entire Ceremony. So, practice writing different kinds of ceremonies. That way you will have a collection when called upon to do an elopement, for example.
And please…….don’t forget “Uncle Sam”!!! Keep records of the following:
- All Notary education that you pay for
- All advertising modes, with receipts
- All income from Ceremonies performed
- Postage used to mail Marriage Licenses
- Odometer Readings for all trips for which you have charged mileage.
- Commission Renewal Fee
- Office Supplies with receipts
- A tip: To declare a “Home Office”, there can be NO bed in the room.
Most of all…have a ball!!! I hope this has been helpful and I look forward to answering other questions that you may have about the Marriage Procedures here in Maine.
By Mike Richard, INM Board member
Some years ago, I joined a professional association in order to meet others in my field and to learn more about my chosen career. Being new to the group and excited about being a member, I attended every meeting. At the final meeting of the year, I got an award for perfect attendance. It was a Lucite paperweight with the initials of the organization inside. Next morning as I admired it on my desk, I began to think about how appropriate it was. It would always be there, but what did it do? It was just like me in my first year in the group: always there but never really doing anything. I WAS A PAPERWEIGHT!
I then called a member of the board to ask how I could get involved. In year two, I volunteered to help the board in a number of ways, and from there I went on to become a board member, and to serve in many different roles. In the process, I met many members of my profession, and made a number of lifelong friends. Now my philosophy when joining any organization is to “get involved and contribute”. If a group is worth joining, it is worth my time and effort toward helping achieve its goals.
Informed Notaries of Maine has a mission of providing quality education to its members. INM does this through the newsletter, through the INM website, through Yahoo! ListServ, FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and through the conferences provided to both members and non-members. If you agree that this is a worthwhile mission, (say perhaps by continuing to pay dues and attend conferences) get involved! Make a commitment! You don’t have to commit ALL your time, but please find some task you can do for INM and commit to helping in that way. The reward for contributing will be a wider circle of friends, greater knowledge and confidence in your skills as a notary, and satisfaction in knowing you are helping raise Maine notaries to a higher level. Call someone on the board today and ask how you can help!
You are invited to participate in the 2014 INM Membership Challenge.
How, you ask? Well, it’s simple!
Just refer three notaries [that are not currently members of INM] to join INM!
When they join, you will receive a complimentary one year extension to your existing membership.
When the new member registers with INM, simply have them write your name on the registration form and include the words, “By Special Invitation.” If registering online, have them send an email to email@example.com letting us know that you referred them as a new member, so that you will get credit for the referral.
In addition, anyone signing up five or more new members will have their name placed in a drawing to win a three-year extension to their membership, plus a special gift.
AND…if you get five or more new members before the April Conference there will be an extra prize awarded to you at the conference.
“So go ahead! We dare you…Take the challenge and start recruiting now!”
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Welcome New Members!
January 2014 – May 2014
Loree Niola, Damariscotta
Deborah Johnston, Winslow
Debra Deprey, Eagle Lake
Tamara Wheeler, Saco
Nicole Bezanson, Falmouth
Martha Wiley, East Millinocket
Nelia Lake, Ellsworth
Carol Goode, Hiram
Earl Odd, Appleton
Marylou Silverman, Augusta
Stacey Hall, Sabattus
Linda Case, Standish
Terry McGinnity, Kennebunkport
Diane Handlen, Biddeford
Linda Mercer, Bridgton
Linda Herrick, Gouldsboro
Christine Blake, Kennebunk
Teresa Ayer, Cumberland
Nancy Soucy, Van Buren
Mary Lyons, Standish
Terry Gerald, Wells
Vickie Croteau, Limerick
Debra Martin, South Paris
Brittany Handcock, Cumberland
Irvin Merrithew, Old Orchard Beach
Kristen Collier, Rome
Karen Pierce, Topsham
Pauline Weiss, Kennebunk
Martha Russell, Limington
Joanne Bargioni, Shapleigh
Stacy Tozier, Sullivan
Irene ODonnell, Turner
Sharon Eon, Kennebunkport
Joel Tripp, Saco
On behalf of the membership and the board of Directors, we welcome you to the INM, and congratulate you on making a commitment to your future as a notary in the state of Maine! INM has as its purpose:
- To educate Notaries about the legal, ethical, and technical facets of performing notarial acts
- To develop and promote the highest ethical principles for Notaries;
- To act as a center to promote uniform laws and regulations; and
- To increase the public awareness and understanding of the Notary’s role.
Please consider getting involved as a member of a committee or by serving on the Board of Directors.