Hello and welcome to the October/November/December 2017 edition of the INM newsletter. You’ll find a table of contents just below this introduction with links to each article. Download this issue for printing (PDF version)
Table of Contents
01. A Smashing Success!
02. INM President’s Message
03. Homeland Security Grants Maine Grace Period for REAL ID
04. Happy Notary Public Day!
05. 5 Steps to a Mistake Free Loan Signing
06. Creating A Successful Mobile Notary Business
07. Maine Law Update
08. NNA USCIS Webinar on November 9, 2017
09. Determining a Signer’s Awareness
10. Questions & Answers
11. Welcome New Members
A Smashing Success!
We held a very successful Seminar on September 21st, in Augusta! The Evaluations were glowing and folks really seemed to have a good time.
In the morning, yours truly delivered a presentation entitled: Notary Public Review Course. This is the INM version of the Secretary of State’s, Notary 101. Attendees seemed to like the different perspective and indicated they wanted it to be repeated.
In the afternoon, Frances Reed and Marilyn Amoroso presented the Wedding Workshop, in sort of a “tag-team” format. It was really fun and informative. Again, attendees were mostly positive in their comments.
The one thing that we want to “own” is the difficulty folks had with their GPSs and locating the venue. We inadvertently published the wrong address for the American Legion. The fact is that the address on Google is in error!! The venue (American Legion Post 2) has been trying for a very long time, to get Google to correct it, but they have been unsuccessful. We at INM, know the feeling! After many years of beseeching Google to correct the INM address on its information, it was just done this year! We will be much more careful in the future.
And, speaking of the future…………you should already have your calendars marked for April 26, 2018!!! INM will be holding its Annual Meeting and Educational Conference in the Portland area on that very day! We are close to signing a contract with a venue and trust me when I say: “You will have NO trouble finding this place!”
We could use your help, however. If you have any Notary topics that are of specific interest to you, let us know. We will move heaven and earth to find a speaker to cover it. We can say that one of our afternoon Breakout Sessions will be a repeat of the INM Notary Public Review Course. It is very important that we have this Course available to any “new or rusty” Notaries!
We are also looking for Vendors to share their products with us that day. It is never too early to sign up to display your wares. Do you know someone who would enjoy setting up a sales table? Is there a product you would like us to have available to you? We have plenty of time to seek out your choices, so do keep us informed of your wishes.
As always, there are numerous benefits to an Informed Notaries of Maine membership. One is, that you will attend the above Conference at a discounted rate! Here is the link to all your membership needs:
ME Commission Expires: 11/8/2018
Fall is here, and colors are reaching their peak in Southern Maine. This is the time when INM Board thoughts turn toward our Spring Conference and Annual Meeting taking place in the Greater Portland area in April. My thoughts also turn with much gratitude to the volunteer members of your INM Board who make this event and all the educational events possible for you. I also thank all the INM members, and non-members who make the commitment to attend and become more knowledgeable and skilled Notaries Public.
Let me introduce you to the members of your Board of Directors who make these events happen:
Gwen Cole: INM Vice President – As Vice President, Gwen leads the educational team and does much of the heavy lifting to arrange and publicize our conference and workshops throughout the year. Gwen has also been a presenter at many of the INM workshops and has presented at numerous notary classes featured by Adult Education Programs. Her years of experience as a Wedding Officiant (The Wedding Nurse) have given her a solid foundation (and not a little humor) for her Wedding Workshops. Gwen also is a regular contributor of articles for INM’s quarterly publication THE INFORMER.
Frances Reed: INM Treasurer – As Treasurer, Frances Coordinates with our bookkeepers and provides the board with periodic updates on the financial health of the organization, and tracks the registrations and payments for our events. Frances also is a regular presenter at our conferences and workshops. Her experience as a wedding officiant for both traditional and non-traditional marriages provide added depth to our team of Wedding Workshop presenters. Frances also maintains the INM Store and its inventory of Notary supplies.
Marilyn Amoroso: INM Secretary and Director of Communications – As INM Secretary, Marilyn tracks attendance and records the minutes for all our board meetings as well as for the Annual Meeting. She also coordinates , (contributes and provides articles) for THE INFORMER and works with our publisher to maintain its timely publication and distribution. Marilyn also has been a presenter at a number of our workshops and conferences.
Taanya Pillsbury: INM Past President – As the most senior member of our INM Board, Taanya is a valued member of the team. In addition to her solid background as a presenter in all areas of Notary education, she also is our resource for a wealth of institutional knowledge of the inner workings of INM from both a governance and IT perspective. Taanya has most recently presented in the area of Mobile Notary business practice and practice as a Notary Signing Agent. Taanya is also a frequent contributor to THE INFORMER.
Jody Hart: Director – Our newest elected member of the INM Board, Jody has taken on the role of Director of Membership. As membership Director, she maintains the member database, recording both new and renewing memberships. Jody is also working on the migration of our database to what we feel will be a more robust and user-friendly database (stay tuned).
Taylor Cushman; Director – As our newest and board appointed director, Taylor has already embraced his role, and has provided support for our recent workshops, and been an active participant at our board meetings from the start.
Did I mention that ALL your INM Directors volunteer their time? In addition, nearly all board members have full time jobs, and some even have more than one. They give of their time in more ways than I can possibly describe. I am immensely proud of their efforts and their dedication. I hope you are too, and that you will take the opportunity to let them know the next chance you get.
If you have an interest in joining the board and in helping us to carry INM to the next level, please send an e-mail to:
President@informednotariesofmaine.org. Thanks for considering it!
Mike Richard, President
Informed Notaries of Maine
Homeland Security Grants Maine Grace Period for REAL ID
AUGUSTA – The Department of Homeland Security has extended a grace period for the State of Maine’s REAL ID Act compliance, which will allow federal agencies to continue to accept driver’s licenses and identification cards from Maine.
The Department of Homeland security issued a compliance waiver to the State of Maine on June 15, 2017, which expires at midnight on Oct. 10, 2017. Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap submitted a request for a one-year renewal on Sept. 15, 2017.
While review of the request is underway, the Department of Homeland Security is granting a grace period from enforcement for all states with extensions expiring on Oct. 10, 2017. The grace period begins tomorrow, Oct. 11 and runs until Jan. 22, 2018.
During this grace period, Maine driver’s licenses and IDs will continue to be accepted as valid identification for federal purposes, such as entrance to federal facilities.
The waiver can be renewed annually upon request through 2020, as long as the State can demonstrate efforts towards compliance.
The DHS is implementing the final phase of the REAL ID Act, a federal law passed in 2005 that seeks to improve the security standards for state-issued identification credentials. On April 28, 2017, Gov. Paul LePage signed into law LD 306, which requires the State of Maine to comply with the federal REAL ID Act. Passage of this law has allowed the State to request this compliance extension while working towards implementation.
During the waiver period, the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles will work toward implementing the systems and procedures that will enable BMV to issue Real ID-compliant licenses and IDs. This system must be in place by July 1, 2019, per the new Maine law. At that time, any person who desires a Real ID-compliant license or ID will be able to obtain one at their local BMV office. In addition to the standard license requirements http://maine.gov/sos/bmv/licenses/index.html , Real ID applicants must provide proof of legal presence, such as a birth certificate (a copy of which will remain on file with the BMV) and submit to a photograph using facial recognition technology.
Beginning Jan. 22, 2018, citizens in states without either the compliant ID or a compliance waiver will not be able to use their IDs to board commercial aircraft. The State of Maine, however, expects to have a valid waiver at that time.
Once REAL ID-compliant credentials are available in Maine, those who have a valid license or ID will not be required to renew it prior to its expiration date, unless they choose to do so because they desire/need a REAL ID-compliant credential. Upon renewal, the BMV will issue REAL ID-compliant credentials unless a person states that s/he would prefer to opt out. Those who opt out will be choosing a “non-compliant” license. Beginning in 2020, those who choose to have “non-compliant” licenses will need to produce a passport or another acceptable identity document for federal purposes that require identification, such as boarding commercial aircraft and accessing federal facilities.
Please note that REAL ID does not affect:
- Entering federal facilities that do not require a person to present identification
- Applying for or receiving federal benefits
- Being licensed by a state to drive
- Accessing health or life-preserving services (including hospitals and health clinics), law enforcement, or constitutionally protected activities (including a defendant’s access to court proceedings)
- Participating in law enforcement proceedings or investigations.
For additional information, visit the Department of Homeland Security website https://www.dhs.gov/real-id-public-faqs
Happy Notary Public Day!
November 7, 2017
The first National Notary Public Day was celebrated on November 7, 1975, and created to …
“recognize notaries for their public service and their contributions to national and international commerce.”
Since ancient Roman times, notaries have recorded matters of judicial and commercial importance as well as private transactions when professional skill and integrity were needed.
Today’s notaries are indispensable to the free flow of commerce and to the many highly sensitive personal transactions that transpire in daily life.
So, whether you celebrate with other notaries or just think about what Notary Day means to you, you should be proud of the work that you do to help make things more ethical in the State of Maine.
We can take pride in the fact that Maine is one of only three states in the nation (Florida and South Carolina being the other two) who allow notaries to perform weddings. Another great service we provide is traveling all over the state working for mortgage and title companies to assist them with their mortgage closings.
Also, if you teach an adult education class on how to become a notary, we salute you for helping us to reach and educate approximately 30,000 notaries in Maine.
INM would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who make contributions to INM, whether it is an article that you have written for The Informer or a INM sponsored training event you have attended to make yourself a more educated notary.
Happy Notary Day and we hope all our INM members will take pride in their commitment to being a Notary Public in the State of Maine!
Opportunities are available to help Informed Notaries of Maine:-
- Serve on the Board of Directors
- Write and submit articles to the Informer
- And much more, if you are interested please contact the email@example.com
5 Steps to a Mistake Free Loan Signing
As Notary Signing Agents, there are several things we can do to help ensure that our signings are error-free.
Touch base with the signer.
Calling the signers to confirm the details of the signing ensures that you have the location, date and time correct and so do they. You can also verify that the appropriate parties will be there, including any witnesses, if required. In addition, remind the borrower to have photocopies of their ID and any other required documentation. Speaking to them prior to the appointment also lets them ask any questions about the process and gives you sufficient time to find the answers to their questions — or have someone from title or the bank address them directly.
Review the documents and instructions before you get to the signing.
Review the documents before heading to your signing so if you have any questions, you can have them addressed beforehand. That’s especially important if you are not familiar with the type of loan or you are working with. Determine what color ink is required, how many forms of ID are necessary, and verify if there any additional instructions or documentation required from the signer. Doing this allows you to familiarize yourself with the transaction and keeps the signing moving along.
Check all your tools of the trade.
Is your cellphone charged? Do you have your journal? Making certain you have all the necessary tools, such as your stamp, paper clips, binder clips, blue and black pens, saves time at the table and allows you to focus on the task at hand: getting those documents signed accurately.
Know who to contact with questions.
It’s likely that the signers will have questions at closing. You won’t know the answers to some questions while others you shouldn’t answer. It’s important to know who to contact. Prior to the signing, ask the title company or signing company for the contact information of the individuals who can answer questions. Having that information handy could be the difference between a borrower signing and not signing.
Double and triple check before leaving the signing.
Let the signers know you want to just do a quick double check before you head out to ensure all the documents are signed and notarized correctly. They will appreciate the thoroughness you are showing, and it allows you the opportunity to catch any mistakes. Scanning through one more time before you drop the package will give you additional peace of mind and, hopefully, alleviates you from having to make a second trip out to have documentation corrected.
Adapted from NNA 2015
Creating a Successful Mobile Notary Business
Many people ask how they can start working independently as a mobile Notary. As with just about any profession, creating a successful mobile Notary business requires dedication and effort — every day.
Beyond a willingness to work hard, there are a number of things anyone trying to succeed as a mobile Notary should consider. These activities have worked for me and the many Notary entrepreneurs I have mentored through my business, At Your Service Mobile Notary.
1: Know your ‘why’ and write a plan
Take the time to document your mission with a business plan. This will be your guide for making future decisions about how you run your business and what you are willing to do or not do. Each time you market, advertise, network, etc., it should take you closer to achieving your “why”.
Your plan should include basic business requirements such as hours of service, specialties, expected expenses, how your service fulfills a niche that other Notaries do not, and what your goals are. This, too, will give you direction in building a successful business.
2: Find a coach or mentor
Depending on your circumstances, you may need a Notary-specific mentor, a small business expert, a life coach, etc. You can find a Notary mentor by asking on social media, such as the NNA’s LinkedIn discussion groups. Be sure to choose wisely, especially if you pay for the service. Check their credentials to verify that they have the expertise in the area you need.
If you’re seeking a Notary mentor or coach, make sure they understand the Notary laws and any special requirements in your state.
A good Notary coach also should be actively earning income either by leveraging his or her commission or finding complementary non-notary services. In addition, social media savvy is important. Do they have a seasoned website that generates leads/revenue?
Many mobile Notaries put all their energies into getting loan-signing assignments, but this is risky. It’s better to build a solid revenue stream through a suite of services — especially if they have staggered income cycles.
Consider what other Notary specialties or services beyond Notary work that complement the service you provide. Different receivables cycles help keep cash flow steady.
- NSA/Loan signings are typically 30 – 45 days after completion of job, while general mobile Notary work direct to consumer is paid at completion of job.
- Are there assignments that require a specific skill set or qualifications beyond being a Notary that would differentiate you from other Notary services?
4: Consider strategic alliances
Don’t automatically view other Notaries in your market as competition. Instead, finds ways to make them strategic partners in order to broaden your reach.
Do they have skills or offer services that you do not (i.e. offer bilingual services or work 24/7 or are attorneys)? And vice versa?
This even applies to retail businesses. For example, if you refer clients who do not need mobile service to your local parcel shipping store, the store will refer clients who need Notary services after normal business hours to you.
Another way to build strategic alliances is by networking with local professional and business associations, interest groups and charitable organizations. This is not necessarily about getting direct work. Instead, it’s about building relationships with people in your community who can spread the word about your services. In other words, turn them into your marketing team. It will take you from being a stranger to the inner circle, and that is who we do business with, those we know and like.
5: Identify/evaluate your client base
As you look for new clients, remember not all clients are the right fit. For example, customers who offer assignments that do not produce a profit for you means you won’t stay in business long.
Customers, such as signing services and title companies, who pay long after the work has been completed should be evaluated for credit worthiness. How many jobs will you do while previous work has not yet been paid? Research clients on Notary registries, LinkedIn sites, Yelp and other sources for recommendations or warnings.
Do they fit your fee structure? Remember, as an independent contractor you determine your costs and what your profit margin will be. Make sure you know what your bottom line is.
Then monitor, measure, adjust. If the prospective client does not meet your requirements, let them go. It is better to have fewer, revenue-generating clients than 50 who lead you to bankruptcy. That’s doubly true of clients that do business in a way that goes against your own philosophy or raises compliance concerns.
Always keep an eye on your “why”. In other words, regularly ask yourself if you are meeting your mission, then make adjustments as needed.
Adapted from NNA January 2015.
Maine Law Update
Election Controversy Leads to new notarization laws:
If you’re handling election related petition notarizations, you’ll need to keep a journal with specific information included. You’ll also need to fill out the Notary certificate in the presence of the person verifying the signatures. ( Courtesy of the National Notary Association)
Sep 25, 2017 – Maine
ME – LD 1323 revises Maine’s direct initiative signature gathering process to provide security around the process of notarizing signature gathering petitions.
Sep 19, 2017 – Maine
ME – LD 1275 simplifies the statute regarding title defects by removing specific defects in the taking of an acknowledgment
NNA USCIS Webinar on November 9, 2017
THE U.S. CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES released a revised Form I-9, and has scheduled a webinar on November 9 to brief Notaries about the changes. The updated Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, incorporates minor changes from the version released in November 2016. But employers were required to start using it starting September 18, 2017. It is helpful for Notaries to understand the new form because businesses often ask them to act as their authorized representatives to complete the form on their behalf. Any Notary may participate in the 30-minute webinar. For details about taking part in the webinar, go to www.bitly.com/NNAI-9
Determining a Signer’s Awareness
Determining a signer’s awareness generally means ensuring that signers are mentally “present” enough to properly understand what’s going on at the time they sign documents. There are simple, non-invasive steps you can take to help make your determination:
- Introduce/Explain Yourself: Ease possible tension with a friendly introduction and brief explanation of your role as a signature witness.
- Ask Questions: Ask open-ended questions requiring more than “yes” or “no” answers, which will help determine the signer’s coherence.
- Seek Clarification: If you are unsure whether your signers understand your questions, ask them to describe the key elements of the document they are signing.
If your signer appears confused, disoriented or fearful, your state may require you to refuse the notarization. Civil Code 1189 does require signers to acknowledge to a Notary that they are the person who signed the document when an acknowledgment is performed. If the signer is unable to clearly communicate this, some states specifically prohibits a Notary from performing a notarization if a signer appears unable to understand the nature of the document at the time of notarization, and the state Reference Manual for Notaries recommends against notarizing if the signer appears disoriented or under the influence of drugs or medication. Many states do not specifically require Notaries to determine awareness. However states that have adopted the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (RULONA) grant Notaries the ability to refuse to perform a notarization if they are not satisfied that the signer is competent or has the capacity to sign or doubt the signer understands the consequences of the transaction or of the document requiring the notarizations. Once you have refused the notarization based on a lack of signer awareness, you should follow these recommended practices:
- Document Your Refusal: In your Notary journal, write a detailed explanation of your reason for refusing the notarization, as well as the steps you took to make your determination.
- Offer to Reschedule: In the case of inebriated, sick, or heavily medicated signer(s), you may offer to return at a later time when they are in a more coherent state to complete the signing.
Questions & Answers
What is a Structured Settlement?
Structured settlements are where the annuitant sells his rights to his settlement money to a 3rd financial party in order to receive a lump sum payment now. Unless the annuitant/signer has reviewed the documents ahead of time, this signing could be lengthy. There may be one document to notarize.
Who is a Notay Public?
A notary public is a person of integrity who is appointed to act as an impartial witness to the signing of an important transaction and to perform a notarial act, which validates the transaction. A notary’s primary purpose is to prevent fraud and forgery by requiring the personal presence of the signer and satisfactorily identifying the signer.
Are we allowed to do a notarization over the phone?
No. Notarizations without personal appearance are prohibited by the state of Maine
Am I required to keep copies of a signer’s identification document and is it necessary to keep copies of documents that I notarize?
No. Professional standards include protecting your signer’s privacy by not keeping copies of their identification documents or documents they notarize.
Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome New Members
Donna M. Peirce, Glenburn
Jean N. Duchesneau, Cumberland
Charlene Hamiwka, Augusta
Marie R. Indelli, Lebanon
Lorianne Marian Bennett, Abbot
Niki L. Norman, Old Orchard Beach
Jennifer Queen, Brunswick
Desiree D. Rosado, Naples
Sharlene F. Myers, New Gloucester
Jessica J. Downs, Lisbon
Joyce A. Baines, Ellsworth
Linda L. Basso, Portland
Linda McCormack, Buxton
Jacqueline C. O’Brien, South Paris
Eve M. Murray, Matinicus Island
Philip N. Roy Jr, Litchfield
Amy M. Mank, Warren
Betsy DuBois, Salem Township
Ron F. Lachapelle, Jr, Manchester
Barbara J. Weatherbee, Hermon
Cynthia R. LaRochelle, Westbrook
Lori Ann Costa, Athens
Carolyn C. Case, Bowdoinham
Rhonda Stevens Day, West Gardiner
Katherine E. Hoyt, Cushing
John P. DeVito, Dexter
Lorena E. Grant, Buxton
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.
See more at: http://www.informednotariesofmaine.org/about-us/board-of-directors
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