Notaries Best Practices

Today’s Topic: Screening the Signer (willingness and awareness)

Today’s Question: Foreign-Speaking Signers

There should always be direct communication between the Notary and the signer โ€” whether in English or any other language. But, III-C-4: Direct Communication Essential, the Notary shall not perform a notarial act if the principal or witness identifying the principal, if any, cannot directly communicate with the Notary in the same language, regardless of the presence of a third-party interpreter or translator.

A Notary must be able to communicate directly with any document signer. So, it is necessary that the Notary and document signer speak a common language and not use an interpreter?

My Thoughts: Recognizing the need for clear communication, many states stipulate that Notaries must be able to read and write in English. (Arizona law permits a Notary to communicate with a signer through a translator.)

My Question: Then; Why? The Notary should never rely on an intermediary or interpreter to determine s signer’s willingness or awareness. A third party may have a motive for misrepresenting the circumstance to the Notary and/or signer source: The NNA’s Handbook for Michigan Notaries pg. 11 Screening the Signer

How would the Notary even determine or come to this conclusion if the Notary has no knowledge or understanding of the signer’s language? In order to do this, the Notary must be able to talk with the signer.

The Purpose: The notary screens for willingness to verify that the signing appears to be a voluntary act, freely made, without duress or undue influence. The Notary also screens for awareness to confirm that the signer appears to understand what is taking place. Without direct questioning of a signer, a Notary could not be sure of that person’s intent to sign a particular document.

My Thoughts: Seeing that Notaries are expected only to make a layperson’s commonsense judgment about a signer’s awareness.

My Question: Does it seems as if sometimes it may be necessary to ask a third party?

What are your thoughts?

Please help me to understand, has anyone ever encountered a scenario like this?

All answers/advice are welcome…..

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