Notary Kept a Copy of my Documents

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Real Estate Services


This is one I really want some notary opinions on.  

As we know, many, if not all banks, hold the bond for the notaries that they employee. Also, we know that bank notaries only notarize for that bank's customers. (That is a whole 'nuther issue for a different blog!)

 Back in October or November of 2008 I needed my own divorce papers notarized. I represented myself sui juris, my then husband had been living in another state for some time and his lawyer was an hours drive from me.

This presented the problem of locating my own notary locally.  Well, I went to my bank. I have had many things notarized there before, by the same lady. She had recorded in her notary journal the more important documents (Tennessee does not require a journal.)  However, on this particular day, AFTER I had signed, and she had notarized the Complaint for Divorce, Marital Dissolution Agreement and sundry other documents pertaining to the divorce--she informs me that she is required by the bank to keep a copy of each and every document she notarizes!  

She proceeded to copy them and placed them in a three ring, loose leaf binder!  

Now these papers have, since then, become public record as all divorces do--unless for a particular reason the judge is asked to seal the record and does so. Also, as it was an agreed divorce there was nothing particularly "bad" in the documents. Yet the question arises--What if we had reconsidered and decided not to file the divorce?   These are being kept in a loose-leaf binder, to be turned over to the bank's officials.

Tennessee Code states:    

8-16-118 Recording Fees  

A fee of one dollar ($1.00) and no more is allowed to a notary public for recording in a well-bound book, to be kept by such notary for the purpose, each of the notary's attestations, protestations, and other such instruments of publication.

 

The Secretary of State's web page states:

 

Am I required to keep records of my notarizations?

Tennessee law does not specify that you must keep record of notarizations. However, that can be inferred from the statutory provision which allows a notary to charge a fee of one dollar ($1.00) for recording in a well-bound book each of the notary's attestations, protestations, and other instruments.

 

Now this does leave some very gray areas of whether or not keeping a journal is required, but it definitely does not say that we can or should keep a copy of people's documents.

What if I had taken my will in there to be notarized?

Hypothetical Situation:

Linda makes out a will, leaving nothing to her son.

Linda then takes this will to a notary to be executed and notarized. The notary makes a copy and places it in a loose-leaf binder.

Linda's son, Albert has an affidavit to be notarized and he takes it to the same notary. Again, the document is signed and notarized, and a copy made.

As they all live in a very small town, Albert and the notary start up a conversation about the upcoming Mule Pull. Will still talking the notary pulls out her notebook and places the affidavit in it. The phone rings and she turns to answer it, leaving the notebook open--to the document last placed in it--Linda's will!

Now Albert is not a nosy person but out of boredom, his eyes fall on it, he notices, in bold lettering across the top--Last Will and Testament of Linda Jones--of course his own Mother's name catches his eye and the rest becomes a huge family rift!!!

Any thoughts on this one???

 

 

Posted by

Mary Ellen "Chakwaina" Elmore

 

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Rainer
2,857
Ardel Richter
Arkansas Notary on Wheels

JMO... I think it's wrong for a notary to keep a copy of any document they've notarized.  A journal, yes--an actual copy, no.   However, the notary's employer may have taken a hit at some point and been advised by their lawyer to 'keep copies' as a CYA.  Puts the poor employee/notary in a bad position...particularly when the TN SOS's only advice is:  Consult your lawyer.  I'd guess that if enough customers complain to the bank, they would be forced to reconsider this practice.  Glad I'm not that notary!

March 16, 2009 09:58 AM
Rainer
25,907
Pamela Knight
Urban Knight Enterprises, Inc.

This situation is unethical.  There is no reason for the bank or notary to keep copies of your documents especially if it is recorded in a register.  If this is a true bank policy this information should be posted some where that is visible to customers.  The bank should provide written literature which explains this policy and allows the customer to give permission or not.  Your rights have been violated and you should request a copy of this policy. 

I would present this to the banking and notary commission boards of my state. In the medical industry, you are required to sign a HIPPA Disclosure Statement.  The bank should of presented you with some type of disclosure statement.     

March 17, 2009 09:55 AM
Rainer
27,305
Mary Ellen Elmore

Pamela,

It is not a policy of the bank as a bank. It is supposedly a requirement of the bank as a notary bond issuer.

I do agree that I should have been told, up front, of the change as it affected me--I would have went to the County Clerk's Office.

As she was "required" to keep a copy, she no longer used a journal (which isn't required in TN anyways).

See, one of the main faults here is that the notary--and most all notaries that have gotten commissioned at the request of their emloyer, is that the notaries are not reading the handbooks, reading the pertinant laws, nor exercising common sense.

As for calling the SOS, all you get is, "We let the notaries decide." or "We do not interpret law, consult an attorney."

Also, there is a case law in TN that says if a notary breaks any of the applicable codes, IN GOOD FAITH, there will no consequenses!

Not to mention TN works, in many areas, off the good ol' boy system.

March 17, 2009 02:10 PM
Rainer
27,305
Mary Ellen Elmore
 

Paul,

You said "The required bond ($10,000 for TN) is "held" by the surety company that issued the bond. "

I am not sure i was clear in my answer to that part of your comment so I will reply here to just that sentence--

The bank IS the bond

March 17, 2009 02:15 PM
Rainer
27,305
Mary Ellen Elmore

Paul and others,

Here is hte section from the Tennessee Notary Handbook on bonds. As you can see, you do NOT have to have a bonding company do it.

Bond.

After election by the county legislative body and before commencing duties or exercising powers, a notary must post bond by a surety company authorized to do business as a surety in Tennessee, or with two or more good personal sureties, approved by the county legislative body, in the amount of $10,000.00.

Hope this explains about bonds being backed or "held" by someone other than a bonding or surety company.

March 22, 2009 03:30 PM
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Rainer
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Mary Ellen Elmore

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