I am a notary for the state of Washington. There are certain documents I can notarize, and some I can't (like a copy of a birth certificate). I can notarize a will, but that does not make it legal and valid, it is just an acknowledgement that you signed it in front of me. I can notarize copies of passports.
I notarize a lot of documents for people at work. It only takes a few minutes and my employer has paid for me to become a notary just for this purpose. It saves co workers from having to go to the bank, stand in line, wait for the notary... etc. etc. They can come to my desk, get something notarized and be on their way in just a few minutes.
Yesterday "Sean" wanted a paper notarized. I scan it (not to be nosy, but just to ensure that it's something I can legally notarize) and he just wanted me to "Sign and stamp! No need to read it!" And he tried to cover it up. Sorry, I have to know what I'm notarizing.
I can not notarize a document if there are blank signature blocks. I must put a big line through them. This is to prevent people from having their document signed and notarized, then taking it to someone else and filling in a signature after the fact. You would be stunned at the sheer number of people who say "Can you notarize this saying I can take money out of my 401k for a boat? My wife/husband isn't here to sign it, but I will take it to them later. You can trust me."
No, sorry, I will not. ALL members must be present for me to sign. Period. No exceptions. "Must be present to win"
So.. back to Sean. It was some insurance form and he had signed the third of five signature blocks. I explained I about not signing a page with blanks, and put a big X through them. I thought it was unusual that he had signed the third of five blocks, leaving the first two and the second two blank. He said he understood, and agreed to putting the x through the blocks. I signed and stamped. All is good.
Today he comes back and tells me "My insurance company didn't like the blank lines. You have to do it again, and this time leave those blank."
"No, I'm afraid I can't do that. By notary law, right here on page 15, I can NOT sign a page with blank lines."
"But you have to! My insurance wants it clean! You can trust me!"
"No, I'm afraid I can't do that. By notary law, I can not sign a page with blanks."
He tried a few more times, going with the "But we're in the same group! You can trust me!" angle. No, I can NOT. If he, or someone else has signatures added after the fact, I can be held accountable and be in SERIOUS trouble. He repeated his plea a few more times until I said "Perhaps you should have someone else notarize your document, because I will not budge on this issue. So, what did you think about yesterday's staff meeting, when the boss said blah blah blah?"
He didn't bring the page to me to notarize, and I know that no other notary is going to sign that with blank lines.
Thank you, ehell, for teaching me this simple yet effective phrase!! I no longer feel GUILTY about saying no!