Looking for advice. I was recently served to testify in a trial where a spouse is saying she didn’t understand what she was signing. It was a quit claim deed, part of a loan package. It was so long ago, I don’t recall. All I know is that I am very conscientious about making sure signers are aware at the time of my signings…
They provided you a date of the transaction in the subpoena - dig out your journal for that time period and see if that refreshes your memory.
I, thankfully and so far, have not been subpoenaed for anything - but my journal would be priceless to me in that situation
Quit Claim Deeds are generally short with very clear wording as to what’s happening. Coupled with your journal… should be end of story.
What’s odd is that i have requested that twice from the attorney and he has not provided yet, telling me he would send later.
Could they be throwing the notary under the bus?
You can probably look up the case in the Court online system - the subpoena should have the case number and parties’ names
Whoa…wait… you said you were served AND that you’ve contacted the attorney ‘who said he’d send it later’ ???
Remember it’s NOT within the scope of the Notary’s authority to explain the document they are signing. As long as you followed your State’s Notary Laws, didn’t offer advice, there’s not much they come after you. You’re smart for making certain your signers are lucid and alert.
Do not ignore the subpoena. Make sure you show up on court day. You can usually ask the court (judge) to put on a 1 hour call up. This will allow you to continue your usual activities. They’ll give you a call 1 hour prior for you to return and testify.
If you’re unable to testify do to lack of cooperation from the attorney, inform the court of this fact. Be sure to bring copies of the e-mails where they would contact you later.
It sounds like this is a divorce case that’s turned adversarial and the attorney’s are casting a wide net. Have no worries, most the time these turn out to be a ‘nothing burger’.
Thank you for that rational response. Maybe I will sleep tonight…
You should also contact your liability insurance carrier. They might give you advice on how to approach your testimony.
You might also consider meeting with an attorney for advice and information about your exposure here.
Talking to your insurance carrier and your own attorney could/would help you particularly in a situation where the wife’s attorney (who subpoenaed you) greets you with a smile and starts to ask you questions so you’ll give him free information that he can use when he tries to beat you up on the stand.
Personally, I wouldn’t talk to him and I definitely would not show him your journal.
Have you reached out to the husband’s attorney?
He may not be your friend either but likely, will want to support the legitimacy/legality of the Quit Claim Deed.
Consider… what do you say when you hand a Quit Claim Deed to someone to sign?
Then decide if that answer could get you in trouble.
Just so everyone understands: I was subpoened by the husband’s attorney. I still don’t know the date of the document. I called him to ask for a Zoom meeting. I told him that it was so long ago that I was not certain I would remember. And that as a notary, my job is not to discuss the documents with the client. That is for the originator to handle (Title, escrow, etc.). If a signer is unclear, I would halt the signing and have them contact their representative. Period. The attorneys “casting a wide net” comment feels accurate in respect to this case.
I have never spoken with the wife’s attorney and do not plan to.
Then it sounds like
wife’s attorney is challenging the Quit Claim Deed
husband’s attorney wants to you use your testimony to support his position? which is that the Quit Claim deed is valid.
the attorney who won’t send you a copy of the Quit Claim Deed is the husband’s attorney.
you have the husband and wife’s name (it should be on the subpoena), you could search the county recorder’s website and see if you can find a copy of the Quit Clain Deed online and of course, your notary. It might bring back memories once you see the property address, where you may have notarized the document.
If the wife’s attorney didn’t issue the subpoena do not talk with them. If the wife’s attorney reaches out to you refer them to the husband’s attorney. If you get a separate subpoena from the wife’s attorney then comply. Most often when subpoenas are issued the issuing party has to notify the opposing party, this is known as discovery This is one of those situations you want to say as little as possible.
Now that more information is coming to light, I’ll speculate that this is a divorce case and the wife is claiming the husband fraudulently taken community property from the wife that she feels is, at least in part, belongs to her.
Remember your job as a notary is not to validate or legitimize any documents. Your only there to officiate the signer’s signatures and witness the transaction. As Sergeant Joe Friday would say, [1960’s TV crime drama], “Just the fact mam, just the facts”.
QCD, always needs to be approved by the lender first and before closing, and the most cases the Title companies issue the QCD, and included it in the closing package, also it needs a witness, I don’t know in which state you are, but, in Florida, I need an extra witness for quit claim deed. you should have it in your journal, I always record witness info in my journal. You will be ok, as a Notary, we acknowledge that the signer’s name matches with ID, and the signer is clear about what is signing.
She has enough info in hand to do this…
My suggestion is do not speak with either party. Ex parte communication is frowned upon by the courts. To OP, you have enough info in hand to put two and two together
Why don’t you go to the courthouse and pull a copy of the recorded QCD? Was the wife at the closing? Or did you meet her somewhere else? Why would you not explain the document to her? You would have had to ID her at the time of signing as well.
This is the part that concerns me in your response. And that as a notary, my job is not to discuss the documents with the client
I think she means it’s not her job to “explain” the document to the signer, which it isn’t. Present it, name it, have them check name spelling, ask if they understand,…“yes?” - okay…sign here just as your name is printed.
As a notary it is our job to go to the closing, explain the documents, obtain signatures and notarize