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Notaries on the move

One of the business services we see rising in popularity is that of mobile notary signings. Mobile signings are where a notary or signing agent comes to your location, typically your home, and completes the necessary identification and signature services required. This convenience saves the signers the trouble of finding and traveling to a notary. This rise in popularity is due in significant part to the on-going pandemic precautions and safety measures. The increased need for mobile notary signings is due to fewer businesses being open to the public, residents not traveling between homes in different states, and concerns around public places in general. People are happy to have a notary come to them and complete the essential tasks required of a notary or signing agent. In light of that, we outlined some helpful tips and reminders for utilizing a mobile notary in the future. These will help you be as prepared as possible.

Identification – If a notary does not personally know the person(s) signing a document, this is the most critical piece to the signing process. The notary's primary purpose is to verify the persons signing a document match the intended signers, which would prove most difficult without identification. For general notary signatures, the notary will only need to see the appropriate picture ID (not expired) and witness the signature(s). For more complex signings like loan closings, the signing agent may need to collect copies of all signer identifications as required by the lender or agency. Having these available as requested will ensure the necessary documents are returned, thus preventing any delays. Having these also does not require the notary to take photos of the IDs and send them electronically, possibly in an unsecured manner. Some agencies may also need a second form of ID, so be sure to clarify before your appointment.

Signers – Another critical piece of the signing process is to ensure that all required document signers are present at the signing. There is often confusion when an application or other process is completed as an individual, and that person is married or legally connected in some way. Depending on the type of signing, the spouse, partner, or relative may also be required to sign specific documents even though they are not directly part of the transaction. Know this ahead of time, and you won't be surprised when it comes time for the signing. The other signer may only be required on a few documents, but not having this would delay or prevent the signing from being completed.

Critical Documents – When completing complex real estate transactions like loan signings, home or land purchases, and loan refinances, there are critical documents you should review before the signing. Closing Disclosure, ALTA Settlement Statement, and Loan Estimate are just a few examples. These include the financial implications associated with the transaction. Reviewing these before your signing will ensure any moving targets are solidified, and all the relevant details are correct. While often required to be provided before the closing, this is not always the case, and surprises can result in unexpected delays.

Space – The benefit of mobile notary signings is that you can complete the process in your own home or desired location. Prepare for this by having a clean flat surface with enough space to review, sign, and pass documents between all parties. If the signing is multiple pages to review and sign, having a comfortable place to sit is best. Adequate space also helps maintain social distancing if that is a concern. You'll want to make sure all the paperwork is kept clear of any potential hazards, including liquids and debris. The documents need to remain clean and legible, and the smallest accident can cause delays. Removing any distractions whenever possible will help keep the process moving, and you'll finish before you know it.

Signed Name – You've been using your signature for some time now and are probably pretty familiar with it. This familiarity may cause some confusion or consternation when it comes to signing certain legal documents. Depending on what you are signing and the corresponding application(s) or filings, the name(s) used may be slightly different than what you are used to signing. Examples could be a middle initial or name, a maiden, or even a prior name. It is crucial to sign the documents as they have your name listed, even if this isn't your typical way to sign. Each signature area will identify how to sign, so it is essential to pay close attention to how this is requested. A missed or incorrect signature could delay the process.

Being prepared can help ensure your signing process or paperwork completion goes off without a hitch. Always be sure to follow-up with your lender if you have any questions on the paperwork details or requirements. The notary or signing agent cannot provide any detailed explanation or legal advice regarding the paperwork and is only there to verify identity and witness signatures.

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