Can a notary correct a mistake?


Today, documents need notarization for different types of reasons. In fact, many documents are integral in court processes and business transactions that function as legally binding contracts. For land records, notarization works as a public instrument available to the public.

Oftentimes, however, mistakes and errors creep into the notarized documents. Whether it’s a deed of trust, mortgage, or deed restriction, mistakes are bound to occur. In fact, it takes a strategic effort to draft and execute an official record. It is the best way to reduce the risk of a document getting rejected.

Can a notary correct a mistake?

Typically, a public notary can correct information if a mistake exists within a notarial certificate. However, public notaries cannot change the specifics of the document. In fact, the signer has the sole right to make changes to the document.

Remember, if the notarization period is complete, then the public notary cannot modify a notarial certificate. In order to make changes, however, the signer has to appear in person in the presence of a notary public to initiate new notarization.

Oftentimes, signers find out later that there has been a mistake in the notarization process. Once there is a proper realization and recognition of a mistake, the signer can work with a notary public to rectify the mistake by relatively changing the information.

But the notary has to communicate with you, the signer, to correct the notary’s mistake. And if there are any changes made to the notarial certificate without the presence of a notary, it would compromise the validity of the document.

It is vital to understand that a notary public is responsible for executing the original notarization and make changes to the notarial document after the consent of the signer. For instance, if there are two different signatures of the same person or deviation in the handwriting, it would lead to suspicion of potential tempering.

To correct a notary mistake – make new changes in line with the original document. Typically, the signer can line through an error and mark the data of a potential change. In most instances, changes to the document can be about the statement, notary signature, official notary seal, and venue.

What happens if a notary public makes a mistake?

A single direct or indirect notary mistake can lead to severe consequences. Although most notary mistakes are minor, failure to address such issues can create new problems. A notary problem usually spirals out of control when there is direct neglect or failure to see the mistake in the first place.  

A mistake can trigger an immediate rejection and result in penalties and additional fees. In most severe cases, the notary public becomes highly vulnerable to civil litigation. Mostly, notaries are aware that there are many moving pieces in a notarization process.

And an honest mistake can compromise the document’s entire notarization process and validity. If the signer and the notary resolve the mistake within 1-2 days, then there are less likely to be any penalties or litigation exposure.

Oftentimes, there is an overlap of information that does not qualify as a mistake. But in some cases, a notary can deem the notarized process improper. Most notaries communicate to the signer that a high level of accuracy translates into a low likelihood of rejection.

But if there is an obvious mistake in the document notarized, then rejection can become inevitable. In order to avoid penalties and late fees, signers should communicate with the notary public and understand the conditions that regulators view as negligence.

Naturally, the last thing signers want is to get sued or have an impact on their business transactions. Whether it’s the notary’s negligence or the signer’s mistake, you can amend the errors by taking proactive measures and securing the document’s validity.

And before you dive into the legal requirements and regulatory requirements, understand the basic information presented in the document. Also, compiling the document does not guarantee an error-free document. And this is where the public notary comes to the rescue. A notary public can cross-reference state laws and help you avoid and correct mistakes.

Remember, the signer can hold a notary public liable for a mistake in the notarized document. If there is direct wrongdoing in a notarization process, the notary public may be required to cover the damages and penalties. You may not be aware of it, but even a typo in a document notarized can cost you $20,000.

And if the notary public fails to pay the amount on time, the matter can go into court. A notary public and the signer can get sued for negligence in the notarization process or breach of contract.

When the legal argument involves a notarized document, the notary is required to fulfill legal obligations and act in the best interest of the signer. It is no wonder the notary public takes extreme caution in notarizing documents. And if a lot of money is involved, the notary public reviews every detail in the document to avoid rejection or lawsuit.

9 Common notary mistakes

Even the most experienced notaries find the notarization process overwhelming. In fact, most public notaries concur that minor notarization mistakes are unavoidable. Still, your objective should be to work with the notary public to minimize mistakes in the notarized document. Most signers depend on their notaries for guidance and to avoid common notary mistakes. If you want to execute your notarization process flawlessly, look out for the most common mistakes.

1. Failure to identify and confirm the signer

One of the common mistakes public notaries make is not checking, confirming, and verifying the signer’s identity. Checking Id is an important aspect of the notarization process. Without verifying the identification, there is a risk that the notary public may witness another person’s signature. In fact, the burden of responsibility falls on the public notary to check, review, and confirm the ID to make sure the “right” person is about to sign the document.  

2. Failure to execute notarization verbally

Whether it’s in-person or remote, verbally notarizing a document is important. Unfortunately, many public notaries often communicate that there is no need for remote or in-person verbal confirmation. Without a verbal ceremony, the notarized document would get discredited. If the notarization involves an oath, the signer should be able to answer in affirmative action. Similarly, there should be voluntary affirmation when notarizing acknowledgment documents.

3. Failure to differentiate between the oath and the acknowledgment

Acknowledgments and oaths are two kinds of notarial acts that work across all states. However, you may find public notaries who don’t the difference between the two. In this case, seek out experienced and knowledgeable public notaries who can differentiate between the oath and the acknowledgment and their applicability.

In short, an acknowledgment document involves voluntarily signing the document. On the other hand, an oath document mandates the signer to verbally swear that the contents of a document are true. The certificate notarizing the oath is “jurat” and requires the notary public to witness the signing of the document after the administered oath.

4. Failure to use proper signature

Here’s the thing – if you signed a document of oath as “David G. Black,” it would be wrong to notarize the document as “D. G. Black.” In fact, signing the document without an official signature would likely invalidate the entire notarization process. Similarly, when there are no clear signature requirements, make sure the notary uses your real name, commissioned in the official notary seal.

5. Using redundant or non-compliant notarial certificate

Using old school and non-compliant notarial certificates is a common mistake public notaries make. In order to process the notarial certificate as fast as possible, notaries often fill out the blanks with mistakes. Therefore, make sure to read the details of the notarial certificate and see if it makes sense.

It would also be wise to evaluate whether or not the notarial certificate aligns with the regulatory requirements and is compliant with the state’s laws. But the mistake that most notaries make is checking these matters “after” notarizing the document. Instead, review these issues before completing your notarization process.

6. Failure to maintain records

Some notaries don’t take maintaining records seriously and create issues later on. But the most experienced and diligent public notaries keep a sequential, consistent, and accurate record of notarial acts. In fact, a notary journal is the official notarization record of the public notary. A notary journal includes elements like time and date of notarization, minimum requirements, a brief description of the document, and basic information about the signer.  

7. Incorrectly affixing a notarized seal

In all notarized documents, the seal represents an authority. In fact, almost all states require a notarized seal when authenticating a notarial act. So, ensure that the seals are affixed and don’t contain text. Think of the seal as an official statement from the public notary who deems the document’s contents legal by state law.

8. Failure to make a personal or remote appearance

Making an in-person appearance is one of the main components of the notarization process. But in the digital age, the remote presence of a notary public has also become acceptable. But when a notary public does not make a virtual or in-person appearance, it invalidates the notarized document altogether.

In some states, signing the document without the presence of a public notary is a felony. And that’s because a personal or remote presence of a notary makes it possible to take the acknowledgment or administer the oath review, confirm the identification of the signer, and record the signature in the official journal.

9. Overlooking conflict of interest

Public notaries often indirectly or directly overlook conflict of interest when notarizing documents. Consequently, a direct conflict of interest creates a financial problem for the signer. For instance, public notaries cannot legally notarize a person’s will where they are benefactors. It is common practice that most notary publics ensure compliance.

Common reasons for document rejection

Notary mistakes and errors increase the number of rejected documents. Most rejected documents contain minor or major notarization mistakes. On average, 30% of notarized documents contain mistakes. But depending on your county and state, this rejection rate can vary.

Now, there is a long list of causes that lead to the rejection of notarized documents. Common causes of rejection include:

  • Poor image quality.
  • Illegible notary stamp.
  • Incomplete or missing notary information.
  • Unclear or incomplete notarial certificate.

Rejection is out of your notary’s control when there is an inaccurate or missing legal description. Also, incorrect or missing marital status or signature of the spouse leads to rejection. Rejection is also triggered when the recording fee is incorrect, documents are sent to a different jurisdiction, and notarized documents don’t match the standard formatting requirements.

Similarly, the notarized document can get rejected if the document is affixed with different handwriting or is not structured or positioned properly. The last thing you want to do is rush your notarization process. Instead, exercise utmost caution throughout the notarization process. And make sure you have all the tools and information to speed up and support the notarization.

Tips to avoid documents rejections

  1. First, make sure the notary public reads the contents of the document. After that, check the accuracy of the notarized document.
  2. Second, affix the signer’s signature within provided and correct space.
  3. Third, fill out the blank space with the correct information like name and address. If the notarizing of the document took place in person, mention the place.
  4. If the notarized document contains an inaccurate venue, cross it and correct the venue.
  5. Use the name on the notarized document that appears on your notary commission.
  6. If a seal or stamp is blurred or upside down, place a notary seal or stamp correctly.
  7. Note the accurate data and double-check using a calendar.

What else?

  • Don’t use or place an expired seal or stamp on the notarized document. Some public notaries believe they can cross an expired stamp or seal and mention the correct one later. But this can trigger the rejection of the document. Therefore, use the current seal or stamp to notarize a document.  
  • Your focus should be to adapt the best practices to avoid the most common notary mistakes. And that means checking the documents, filling out all the relevant and correct notarial information, and ensuring a legible stamp or seal. If there is an issue involving a notary seal, address it immediately.

How to correct mistakes on notarized documents?

Despite extreme caution and carefulness, mistakes tend to occur when notarizing. Depending on the scenario, you may have to take different steps to rectify a mistake in a notarized document.

Here are the basic steps you can take to correct errors or mistakes:

Step 1: Highlight the areas that contain a mistake

  • If there is a mistake while filling out the basic information in the notarial certificate, make sure to check every piece of information in the presence of the notary public.
  • If you spot a mistake, minimize its obviousness and follow the standard measures to make a correction.
  • For instance, check the notarized document to ensure the information is accurate.
  • Double-check the information and ensure there are no spelling and grammar mistakes within the notarial certificate.
  • Ensure the required commission number checks out along with the rest of the information in the notarized document. Also, ensure your notarized seal is legibly affixed.

Step 2: Check in with your state to make the right corrections

  • Addressing a mistake or error after signing the document is more difficult. But before you move forward, confirm and check in with your state to make the right corrections to your notarial certificate.
  • For instance, if the state gives you the flexibility to fix an error “after” completion of the notarization process, then assume there are more potential problems in the notarized document.

Step 3: Follow this checklist to make corrections

  • To make corrections, cross the line across the inaccurate information.
  • Make sure the data and initials are correct.
  • Print or update the correct information legibly.
  • Mark the adjusted entry in your notary journal.

You can follow these steps to fix different types of mistakes in notarized documents. On the PandaDoc Notary platform, you can find dedicated notary agents to help you avoid and fix notary mistakes. In fact, the remote notarization process decreases the chances of incurring notary mistakes that ordinarily are common in the in-person notarization process.

Final thoughts

In retrospect, attorneys, title agents, real estate agents, and lenders now work with public notary agents to avoid mistakes. Typically, there is more than one reason when a rejection is triggered. It makes the role of public notaries all the more important to prevent notary mistakes.

Bid farewell to old school notarization processes and contact PandaDoc Notary to notarize and rectify documents online. 

Why should you opt for PandaDoc Notary?

PandaDoc Notary has made the notarization process simpler and easier for people. On the PandaDoc Notary platform, you don’t have to be a technical expert or possess legal knowledge to notarize a document. Of course, errors and mistakes can slip through the cracks when dealing with notarized documents.

Our notary agents on the PandaDoc Notary platform can help you notarize documents and make corrections. You can also count on our online notary agents to help you navigate through the remote notarization process and how it can work for you.  

With the PandaDoc Notary platform, you don’t have to worry about seeking help from third parties. Instead, you can notarize, verify, and rectify notarized digital and electronic documents easily. As remote notarization evolves, more people want to lean towards online notarization to save valuable time and resources.

If you find any issues or feel uncertain about a piece of information within the notarized document, you can leverage the PandaDoc Notary platform to resolve the issue. Our notary agents bring added value throughout the notarization process, communicate to highlight details, and help the signers take proactive measures to avoid and resolve any mistakes.