Mastering notary assignments: dos and don’ts for successful signings

Discover the dos and don'ts needed to excel while on notary assignments and elevate your customer service. Dive into our guide for valuable insights.


As the real estate industry prepares for an anticipated increase in market activity, notaries are preparing for a higher volume of notary assignments. To ensure they’re ready for market shifts, notaries should follow these dos and don’ts to complete successful signing appointments.

As a notary, you're more than a signature witness; you're an official of the court, impartially validating legal document signings. Dive into mastering your rating and role as a notary with this detailed guide on dos and don’ts for notary assignments.

The Do's of Notary Assignments

1. Master your Documents

Before any assignment, familiarizing yourself with the documents you'll notarize is paramount. The first 'do' is to understand each document's purpose, content, and prerequisites.

Ensure all documents are completed before your stamp hits the paper. Incomplete documents can invalidate the entire notarization process. Verify that all necessary parties have signed, all required notarial acts are notarized, and any critical fields are filled in correctly.

2. Punctuality and Communication

Signers depend on you to be punctual on their signing day. Managing your time effectively and showing up when promised ensures a positive experience for everyone involved.

Confirm appointments and be clear about expectations and processes. You’ll want to confirm the appointment with the signer right away to maintain an excellent rating with your signing service. Verifying times and materials through calls or emails can save both you and the signers valuable time and prevent frustration.

3. Flexibility with Delays

Expect the unexpected. Build in a buffer for unexpected delays. Traffic and last-minute document changes are all part of the job, so prepare for it and strive to be resilient. Adapting to the unexpected is a valuable skill.

4. Stay Educated

Lifelong learners excel and it’s important to stay up to date with any changes in your state’s notary laws. We’d recommend attending renewal and continuing education classes to stay current with changes that affect your notary duties so you can continue to refine your notarization techniques. Each assignment offers a chance to practice your craft, so try to take advantage and refine your habits during each signing to ensure consistent quality service.

This can be a great way to stay sharp in slower market times when there are fewer signing appointments available.

The Don'ts of Notary Assignments

1. Don’t Skip the Notary Journal

Neglecting your notary journal is a shortcut that leads to long-term risk. Journals provide a historic log of your notarial acts, just in case that history needs to be dissected for legal purposes.

Detail-oriented entries with the date, time, signers’ names, document types, and unique IDs should all be documented, every time. You won’t regret recording more information; you may regret not recording enough.

2. Don’t give legal advice

Notaries should not answer questions about loan documents because it can be seen as giving legal advice, which is not within their scope of practice. This includes explaining terms or clauses in the document, such as fees, interest rates, or penalties.

As a notary, you are acting as a neutral third-party witness to the signing of documents. Your role is solely to ensure that all parties involved are properly identified and that the document's clauses are understood and agreed upon.

Resist the temptation to offer legal advice or explanations about the contents of the documents. Even if you think a signer might benefit from a deeper explanation, it could lead to overreach and potential legal issues.

For example, if a signer asks what a fee covers, you should remind them that you are there to notarize their documents and direct them to discuss any outstanding questions with their real estate professional.

Another common question that notaries may encounter is whether a document is legal or valid. It is important to remember that notaries are not trained or authorized to make these judgments. If a signer has concerns about the legality of their document, they should seek guidance from an attorney.

It can be challenging to know where to draw the line when it comes to offering information and sticking to your role as a notary. The key is always to prioritize staying within your designated responsibilities and refer any legal questions back to the appropriate professionals.

One way to avoid confusion or misunderstandings is to clearly explain your role and limitations at the beginning of each signing. This can help set expectations for both you and the signer, ensuring a smooth and professional process.

3. Outdated Practices

Becoming out of touch with the current notarial rules and technologies can be a disservice to your clients and yourself. Modern notaries utilize technological tools for timesaving, enhanced accuracy, and convenience.

Whether it’s digital notarizations, encrypted documents, or email scanning services; the technology world has embraced notarial duties. Staying on top of these trends and tools can help you maintain a competitive edge in the industry.

Notary services are continually evolving services in high demand.  In a constantly changing market, looking into additional services and specializations can help you expand your offerings and reach new clients.

4. Don’t Let Your Credentials Expire

Not getting your credentials on time or missing expiration dates can have legal and professional consequences. For signing services like Jot, your profile may become inactive if your credentials are not up to date and you will be ineligible for new signing offers.

We recommend setting a calendar reminder for when you need to reapply or renew your notary commission license, errors and omissions insurance, and notary signing agent exam.

Keep a notarized copy of your credentials accessible. In case a client questions your status, having this on hand will reinforce their confidence in your service.

By being disciplined, vigilant, and continually educated, you can solidify your reputation as a professional in demand. By avoiding shortcuts, legal overreach, and complacency, you will protect your notarial commission and the integrity of the notarial process. Remember, as a notary, your signature is your bond—make it count.

Learn more about getting started as a Jot Notary.