A Notary Horror (Notorror?) Story

notary-noir-sticker-280x365The kindly little 80-year-old file clerk at my day job recently asked if I could notarize some documents for her. I was of course happy AF to do that, so I got her settled in my office and pulled out my notary journal to record the act. The file clerk’s daughter happened to be there as well, and seeing my journal prompted her to mention that they’ve been having some trouble with her dad’s (the clerk’s late ex-husband’s) will. I assumed it involved a dispute over part of the estate or something, but no, it simply involved gross incompetence.

Turns out, when the current will was originally drafted, the file clerk accidentally signed her name on the wrong line, and, following suit, her ex (the testator) signed on the wrong line as well. In order for the will to be accepted as valid, the family had to give proof that the testator meant to sign on the correct line, which shouldn’t have been a problem — after all, there were two witnesses and a notary present, right? Unfortunately, they weren’t able to get in touch with the witnesses. I don’t know if they didn’t leave contact info or skipped town or what, but regardless, they were nowhere to be found. So it was up to the notary to clarify the matter.

But here’s the thing: The notary didn’t get a record of the signing. Like, she showed up sans journal and slapped a seal on the last page without documenting the event, so there is no evidence whatsoever that the testator swore to the authenticity of the final wishes listed in the will. Excuse the highbrow legalese, but that is some fucked-up bullshit right there.

And you just know she doesn’t have eleventy-thousand dollars in Errors and Omissions insurance like I do. You just know it.

The family managed to track down an earlier version of the will, so hopefully, that one will stand up in court, and they’ll be able to move forward with the process. But guys, this is why I’m so paranoid about documentation, and about not letting anyone “borrow” my stamp or get their paws on it when I’m not around. And it’s also why I try to make sure people understand what a notary actually does, so that they don’t find themselves inadvertently screwed over by some lazy-ass with a label maker who can’t be bothered to do the job properly.

Anyway, that’s my official contribution to the campfire storytime season. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to put on a clown costume, grab the Notarizer, hide in some bushes, and show a certain notarial no-goodnik the error of her damnable ways.

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