How can I politely decline to notarize a signer's copy of the documents?

I had a signer who was very uncomfortable with signing a loan modification. She did not understand why I wouldn’t notarize her set of the documents, so I just explained that I’d have to charge her for each notarization, and that it’s a conflict of interest with the signing service who hired me to execute her documents. She didn’t seem to appreciate that answer, and we eventually did halt the signing because 1. the signer was unwilling to continue and 2. the signer had many questions for the lender that I figured she’d want to discuss in detail.

So, how can I more effectively tell a signer that there’s no point in me notarizing their copies, and that it’s not something I’d be willing to do even if she offered to pay?

Why not? Actually, if you think about it, that’s not a bad idea (providing she pays you for it - it’s a separate GNW appointment) - but if the company loses the originals, she has one to give them! I don’t see where it’s a conflict of interest - it’s no more of a conflict than if you were there for the modification and she asked you “while you’re here, can you notarize this?” (and shows a completely separate document).

I don’t think there’s any law against it, though why she was so adamant is puzzling. I would have done it as long as it wasn’t prohibited by my state.

The only thing I can suggest, if you really don’t want to do it, is suggest she get a copy of the signed and notarized docs from the company.

JMO

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Because it creates TWO “originals” seems to satisfy them…
But, if they’re willing to pay…why not?

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@notarybrycehall Hmmm . . . I simply could be “missing” something within your scenario description, but in general when performing services as a Professional Signing Agent in a Real Estate Transaction; i.e., Refinance, Commercial, HELOC, Reverse, Modification, etc. the hiring party will normally include a caveat within the Instruction segment to the Professional Signing Agent that if the signing is stopped (regardless of the reason), that originals/copies of the documents are NOT to be left with the signer under any circumstances.

If what I’ve described fits within the scenario that you’re conveying that you encountered, it would be a simple step to direct their attention to the paragraph that explicitly states (or something to this effect) “originals/copies of the documents are NOT to be left with the signer under any circumstances.

At that point, you can offer the contact phone number for the signer to confer at that time (or, at a later time) with their loan officer further about their questions/concerns.

:swan:

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@cNsa5 I agree - you’re probably on the money. I based my response on the assumption that the signer signed; of course if they don’t, I would not notarize theirs either.

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What was their main reason for not moving forward?
Was it the fact that you wouldn’t notarize the second set of documents? (Which you could have if they were willing to sign your set). Falls under a separate GNW request. I don’t see a “conflict of interest” as the signer is one of the stakeholders (owners) of the docs. It was a transaction that they themselves requested.
Was it the fact that they didn’t want to pay for it? Some are willing to pay until they see the bottom number, and you don’t know what’s going on in their mind that their not telling you verbally. It doesn’t hurt to call the lender and let them know the situation and get their feedback. If they had no problem with it, they might have even paid you for it. Also on the same call, if the lender wasn’t a fan (couldn’t see why it would be an issue with them, but who knows?) but have the lender guarantee the signer they would receive a copy of the signed/stamped package in the mail (as they are entitled to it as a stakeholder/owner), and most likely would have received the copies anyway.
My point, a phone call could not have only saved the transaction, but made you extra money as well. To answer your question? “Let me make a phone call.” If I’m tracking this right, it was your “assumption” of there being a conflict of interest (which is very OK) that killed the deal, but I think the phone call to the lender would have made you feel better regardless how it would have turned out. Hope my 2 cents helps!

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I agree, @LindaH-FL always a challenge if one isn’t there at the time it arises . . .

Being objective, with these two conditions found to be present (identified in the OP - see below quote), the signer would be considered to be under duress/pressure (regardless of whether the signer executed the doc/docs or not) due to “unwilling” & “many questions”.

As such, it would be a Show Stopper from my perspective . . . I couldn’t vouch that the signer executed of their own free will. Thus, no notarization(s) would take place at that time.

Hope this clarifies my critical thinking process for the query. :sparkles:

:swan:

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Her main reason for not proceeding with the signing was distrust for the lender and discomfort with the terms of the loan modification. I was going to end the signing if she didn’t elect to do so on her own, since I don’t want to place myself in a position where I’m inadvertently pressuring her to sign.

I guess you haven’t seen one of these loan modifications, but the services don’t pay much money for them at all, and I only accept them since they only require stamping once or maybe twice and a couple of signatures. They normally take 10 minutes, but this signer had been signing and dating every document so hers looked “exactly like mine”, in addition to reading through every individual document. It was a good 45 minutes into the signing when we had finally gotten to the Deed of Trust that she begrudgingly asked me to notarize. Perhaps “conflict of interest” is the wrong word, but I didn’t want to notarize something for a signer who was already very apprehensive, and the signing service actually thanked me for not notarizing her copy.

Your assumption is not really accurate, because what “killed the deal” on this pandemic-related loan modification was her hesitance and later unwillingness to sign. If I had charged her for the notarization of those documents, I would have made $10 to $12 depending on if she paid cash or card (I charge in multiples of $5 if they pay in cash). I made more money for scheduling and completing a resigning, which again, was not much money.

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This is what I was trying to say by “conflict of interest”, I guess I just didn’t have the right terminology. The instructions didn’t want her to have original copies, just her own copy for reference. I appreciate your clarification!

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Definitely much more info here than in your initial post, which reduces assumptions. I personally still would have let the signer and lender battle it out on the phone, and let them decide afterwards, again, to make you feel better about the whole experience, not to mention, answer some questions, or address some concerns you may have had about the transaction as well. Especially in your case, with the initial low fee offered, and time you invested, I would have been all over that extra potential compensation, although minimal, but better than none. On a side note, coming with 11 years of doing this, loan modifications are not solicited, they come via request of the borrower (usually in some sort of hardship). Them looking for help without wanting to do their part always cracks me up! I usually get such signers with Reverse Mortgages, because of the false narrative that their giving their home away, but nonetheless, they’ll still ask for it and drag you to the table just to fight.

When this has come up I explain the lender/title company owns the documents. The lender/title has asked to have one copy Notarized and returned, while the second is a courtesy copy provided for the borrower’s records. If they want the second copy notarized they’ll need to call their loan officer for approval and who pays the notary fees. This puts the Onus on the LO, and keeps me on schedule for my next engagement.

If the second copy can be Notarized, I’ll make a second appoint to Notarized the second copy.

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I hand them their copies and their ID’s after the signing is complete.

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All of my loan mods explicitly state NOT to use the borrower’s copy. I assume in case they removed pages.

I have had clients worry that they weren’t getting a signed copy. First, I don’t provide or even mention I have a copy for them unless they comment, “that is a lot of paper”. If they say that, then I will say to them “only half as the other half is your copy but I don’t provide it until we are done in case we make a mistake, I can always switch out pages from your copy…LOL, you get all the mistakes”. That makes them laugh and we move on.

When they are distrustful and say “this lender kept messing up, I want (or how do I get) a complete signed copy?” I answer “well, you can certainly get a signed copy from such and such title company, but it doesn’t serve you all that well. You should realize this paperwork is simply to cover the lender should you fail to make payments on that money they are loaning you. Your signature shows you agree to their terms. I give you a copy so you know what you are agreeing to. But having your signature or my stamp on your copy means nothing.” They seem to understand this because they then sign everything willingly without issue.

So, this is just another part of taking charge of the appointment. Learning certain responses to borrower questions and even sometimes incorporating a particular response into your “spiel” can sometimes make all the difference in how your appointment goes.

Hope this helps.

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I carry a COPY stamp with me. I will do it but stamp it "COPY "so I am not creating another original. Then it not a big deal

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Just have her take a picture of the signed copies for her records.
You did the right thing.

Very simple! Advise customer that she can ask her lender/ bank, whatever, to send her a copy of notorized docs!

Tell the borrower that you can only notarized documents pertaining to this signing for the lender. It’s just that simply.
If a borrower wants a loan, they will not refuse to sign bc you didn’t notarized their copy. Keep it short and sweet!
End of story.

Interesting replies. I just don’t get random questions like that anymore. I have in the past and I used the “2 originals” line successfully. I saw a lot of these 15 years ago, all were low paying and filled with drama. These signers are late paying their mortgage and are looking at the prospect of loosing their homes. The lenders are tossing out a lifeline that ultimately few of the signers will follow through on. DRAMA! Give these assignments to newbees there good practice.

'With modifications the signer normally gets a set of documents via overnight with the option of getting them done with their own notary.
All modifications that I have done have had instructions to ONLY SIGN our copy due to the bar codes on the two sets being different. If the wrong set get sent in then we don’t get paid. Instructions also say the signer may say they have signed , wet or digital.
I simply state that our documents have different bar codes they are the ones I need to sign and return.
I show the numbers and terms being the same.
I say everything with the utmost certainty on it being % correct and the only way I will proceed and would not have a problem notarizing both sets without a charge.
Hope that helps

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