When You Need a Notary in Memphis

When You Need a Notary in Memphis, Contact Notary Memphis

Notary Memphis is a mobile notary service provided by Tim Gatewood. I have been a notary public here in Shelby County, Tennessee, for over 20 years and I currently offer services in Shelby, Fayette, and Tipton Counties.

If you or your family member are in a nursing home or a hospital and you need a power of attorney or advance care directive or Will notarized, I can come to you at a very reasonable cost and get that taken care of for you. Please see my article about Hospital Notary Work for details of that.

If you are an employee or manager or owner of a business and you need something notarized at work, I can come to you for the same reasonable mobile notary fee and help you get it done.

If you are at a school or church function and you need a release or permission slip or some other document notarized, I will be happy to travel to you and notarize your document.

If you are a shut-in, I can come to your home.

If you just prefer to have the convenience of having the notary come to you and you don’t mind paying the trip fee for this service, my mobile notary service is just what you need.

OR, if you would rather have basic general notary services and save the trip fee by coming to me, I can often be found in the 38115, 38119, or 38125 zip codes (unless I am out providing mobile notary services somewhere else).

Please see my article How My Notary Service Works for details of my mobile notary service and general notary services.

I look forward to hearing from you soon. Thank you for your time and consideration.

(Updated December 20, 2017)

Notary Memphis business card

Notary Memphis business card

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Notaries Need to Consult Trusted Authorities

There are two things that every notary should do:

  1. Know the law in your state as it relates to notary duties and responsibilites.
  2. Follow the law.

If that creates a conflict with your client’s instructions or a request from your boss or a customer, explain to them what the conflict is. Don’t let yourself be pushed by anyone to break the law as you understand it.

If you have questions about what the rules are for a given situation after reading the law and any notary handbook provided by your state, seek out answers from trusted authorities. These are:

First, the Secretary of State and Attorney General of your state;

Second, an attorney who is licensed in your state;

Third, professional notary groups (NNA or AAN or ASN); and

Fourth, the Codes and model laws that those groups and others have created.

Start with the first. Then try the second. If they can’t or don’t answer, research with the third. This is where having a paid membership with the professional groups comes in handy, as it will generally get you access to a help desk and their online archive of materials (newsletters, articles, ebooks), as well as discounts on books that you should have on your reference shelf in your office.

If you still have questions, look up the Codes and read them. (I have stored the most recent versions that I could find in this folder: Notary Codes. You may want to do your own research to see if there are more recent versions available.) While these Codes are NOT law and do NOT take the place of knowing the law in your state, they do offer some idea of the currently-recommended Best Practices from the professional groups that created them — and many states have adopted one or the other of these Codes in whole or in part as their own state laws.

If you have enough of a legal mind to read court cases, you might also look at scholar.google.com for any cases that involve notaries in your state to see if a court there has ruled on the matter.

Posting a question on Facebook or in the forums of NotaryRotary, NotaryCafe, or 123notary or other social media may help as a last resort — but be aware that the people in those online spaces are very unlikely to be lawyers or government officials charged with knowing the rules in your state. So, anything another notary tells you (whether they say it online or in person) is a a rumor at best unless they supply evidence that they have consulted one or more of the above trusted authorities. Answers received on social media will not protect you from lawsuits or other serious consequences if they turn out to be wrong.


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Questions for the Tennessee Attorney General

One of the frustrating things about being a Tennessee Notary Public is that there are many questions for which the statutory law and the Tennessee Notary Handbook do not provide answers. So, I have been compiling a list that I would like to submit to the Tennessee Attorney General and/or the Secretary of State. If you are a Tennessee Notary Public and you have questions not included here, please share your questions in the comments.

Questions for the Tennessee Attorney General or Secretary of State
by Tim Gatewood

As the TN AG Opinion 07-157 states that a Tennessee Notary Public is a state official, does that mean that we can submit questions directly to your office? Or do we need to submit them to some other office and ask them to forward them to you?

Is an I-9 Form considered an employment document or an immigration document? If it is an immigration document, does that mean that it can not be completed except by those who are allowed to do immigration consulting work?

Are there are laws or rules or regulations against notaries public accepting unsolicited tips?

Can a TN Notary Public affix their seal to a Notary Identity Certification or a contract or any other document to “verify” their commission or status? Or does the law limit the use of a notary seal to only being used when notarizing documents?

In general, how do we resolve discrepancies between the signer’s name as it appears on their identification document (i.d.) and their name as shown on documents? If Senior or other suffixes appear on the document but not on their i.d., does that mean that we can not proceed with the notarization? What about nicknames? Missing middle initial or middle name? Different middle name for married woman (such as maiden, previous married name, actual middle name) ? Are we allowed to accept supplemental i.d. (not in the list in the statute) that shows the missing elements of their names?

Is there a special process or procedure for signature by mark in Tennessee? Or is an X considered a signature without anything added? (This was mentioned as a common law procedure in a TN AG Op, possibly the one about signing a durable POA when the signer has a disability such that they can not actually sign.) Is this signature by mark or using an X a recognized procedure in TN and, if so, what are the steps involved?

If a document to be notarized shows that the signer is signing with capacity (attorney-in-fact, personal representative of an estate, trustee of a trust, grantor of a trust, corporate officer, etc), does the notary need to see proof of that capacity in order to sign the corporate acknowledge certificate? Is a notary allowed to use (or sign if pre-printed) a standard (non-corporate) acknowledgment when the body of the document or the circumstances otherwise indicate that the signer is signing with a capacity other than their own as an individual?

Is “husband and wife” considered a capacity? Does a notary need to see proof before they can sign a notary certificate that states the signers were husband and wife?

If the document has a standard jurat which says they were sworn, but they choose to affirm instead, does the notary have to correct the jurat to show that? Should the notary make note of this affirmation in their journal? Or both?

What obligation does a notary (NSA or otherwise) have with respect to excise tax in Tennessee?

What obligation does a notary who handles assignments for out-of-state firms or individuals have to see if their clients are registered to do business in Tennessee?

Does the order of names in an AKA statement matter? Are we required to see proof of all the names in an AKA or just one of them? How about an NKA or FKA?

Does an attorney-in-fact have the authority to sign a sworn statement for the principal? If so, does the jurat need to indicate that they did sign it in such capacity? If the AIF lacks such authority, what actions should a notary public take when presented with a sworn statement to be signed by an AIF in such capacity?

While it is widely reported that a notary public bears no responsibility for the truthfulness of the statements made within the body of a document presented to them for notarization (with the signer alone bearing that responsibility), is this an actual rule of law in Tennessee? If so, does it apply when the signer states to the notary that some or all of the contents of the body of the document are not true? Would your answer change if the document indicates that it is being sworn to or the statements contained within it are made under oath (with a jurat or a notary acknowledgement certificate accompanying the document) ?

If the signer does not state that some or all of the contents are not true, yet the notary can tell from the circumstances that they must be untrue (or has reasonable grounds to believe that they are untrue), should the notary proceed on the basis that the responsibility rests on the signer — or refuse to proceed with the notarization on the basis that a public official should never assist with what they believe to be fraud?

Is a Tenn notary allowed to accept a driver’s license or state non-driver i.d. or US Passport or Military I.D. with holes punched in it as a form of i.d., assuming it is otherwise compliant with the description in the law? Or do the holes which mark it as invalid for police purposes also make it unacceptable for notary purposes?

If the notary acknowledgement certificate states the signer of the document was “known to be” the person described in and who executed the document, does this mean the signer must be personally known to the notary as defined in state law?

If so and the signer is not personally known to the notary, does the notary have the authority and the duty to correct the notary certificate to state the signer was “proven on the basis of satisfactory evidence to be” ? Or must the notary refuse to notarize the document in such instances?

Did the 2014 law (HB2387 – Public Chapter 805, passed in April 2014) change your opinion about whether notaries are state or county officials? If not, what impact does it have? What was the point of the wording in it about approving rather than appointing (seeing as how the Governor still is involved in the process and the county does not issue a commission until they receive the certificate from the Governor) ?

In your opinion 10-89, you laid out a procedure for what to do when a signer of a durable power of attorney is unable to sign in their own hand. Is this procedure acceptable for all notarized documents that are executed in Tennessee? If not, what are the limits of when this procedure applies? And what procedure should be followed in those circumstances that are not covered?

In your opinion 81-555, you stated that, for that specific instance, the applicable law granted authority to whoever made a copy of a document to certify the copy. Your opinion specifically mentioned notaries as one party who could certify the copy under those circumstances. As certifying copies is one of the services that the public frequently requests from notaries, please answer the following: is certifying copies an inherent power of a notary public except where otherwise restricted by law? If so, what are the restrictions? If it is not an inherent power of a Tennessee notary public to certify copies, how should a notary public respond when requested to certify a copy ?

If the body of a document presented to a Tennessee Notary Public states that the signer was duly sworn or that they are making the statements contained in it under oath, yet the notary certificate is an acknowledgement, is the notary expected or required to administer an oath ?

If so, should a jurat be added to the document to indicate that such was done? Or should a jurat be substituted for the pre-printed notary acknowledgement, rather than added to the same? Or, alternatively, should wording be added to the notary acknowledgement certificate to so indicate? If no oath is to be given under such circumstances, should wording be added to the notary acknowledgement certificate to indicate that, despite the language of the body of the document, no oath was given?

In short, how is a conflict between the language of the body of the document and the statements in the notary certificate to be resolved?

Under what circumstances is a notary public allowed to refuse o notarize in Tennessee? Does the reasonable and lawful standard apply? Do federal rules such as HIPAA, EEOC, or others have an impact on when we can say no? Are there state laws or rules that require us to proceed? In Acuff v. O’Linger (56 S.W. 3d 527 (2001), the Tennessee Court of Appeals held that a notary acts in a judicial capacity in determining the facts stated in a notary certificate. Once the facts are determined by the notary to be such that they can proceed, are they required to do so? Are there limits on the judgment of the notary as to what the facts are?

Is a notary journal considered a public record? If so, under what circumstances must it be shown to members of the public? Are we allowed to charge a fee for copies? Can we certify the copies? Do we redact NPPI on the copies? Does someone seeking to view the contents of a notary journal make the request via Freedom of Information Act form ? If so, is that sent to the SOS who then forwards it to the notary? Or what is the procedure? When I cease to be a notary public, am I required to turn over my notary journals to the county clerk’s office? If so, is there anything in state law about their retention and storage policy?

Seal of the State of Tennessee

Seal of the State of Tennessee

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My Strengths as a Writer

The experts say you should know your own strengths and weaknesses if you’re going to be a professional, so here is my self assessment.

As most of my professional writing is on notary-related topics, I’m posting this here, rather than on my personal blog.

My Strengths as a Writer
By Tim Gatewood

My biggest strength as a writer is that I compile diverse data (research, facts, my own personal experiences, reports from others about their personal experiences, and materials from credible sources) into conclusions that I am able to communicate to a wide variety of readers. In other words, I love to find all sorts of useful truth, then process it and serve it up, ready to eat, to those who are hungry for it.

On notary topics and others that interest me, I read from many books, magazines, newsletters, and online articles — and I collect most of these as part of my reference library.

When I attend classes or webinars, I usually take notes and gather in all the materials offered by the trainers to add to my collection.

As I learn new things or reach new conclusions, I frequently write articles about this knowledge and share them with the world. After all, the best way to get what you’ve learned to stick in your own mind is to teach it to others — and teaching what I’ve learned is a big part of my ministry.

If I’m writing for a paying client, I’m aware that editors will rarely accept a first draft as is, so freelance writing is always a collaborative effort. I believe that editing is a vital part of writing, so I edit (almost) everything before I post, publish, or send it out.

I have been writing for decades and my works have been published in a wide variety of ways, including community newspapers, magazines, and many online sites. My first ebook had a soft launch recently and I’m planning to publish at least one of my full-length books-in-progress later this year.

Mostly, I’ve written non-fiction. So, experience as a non-fiction writer is another strength.

I’m generally aware when my conclusions are based on less than 100% reliable data and don’t hesitate to say so.

I know the difference between anecdotal evidence (which may not be worth much in terms of finding generally-applicable truth but still is valid for the person who lived it) and scientific evidence (which may be tainted by the biases and assumptions of those who did the science involved, as well as slanted by the interests of whoever funded the work, but still may be valid if we can filter those out).

I’m open to being convinced that I am wrong when someone presents facts that I’m not aware of or arguments that I have not already considered. And I’m willing to admit it when they convince me that I was wrong.

All this means that I’m frequently able to present answers to questions and advice for dealing with situations in a way that seems common sense after I’ve stated it, but that was often not commonly known or understood before I did so.

And my willingness to change my mind and admit when I was wrong have earned me the trust of quite a few notaries, along with other people.

I credit a few college classes in logic, as well as life experience, for these strengths.

My major weakness as a writer is that when I’m not 100% sure about a conclusion, I state it with qualifiers that are not always understood or appreciated by those seeking definite answers.

I can come across as a bit blunt at times, as I’m struggling to state the truth as I see it, rather than focusing on what how people feel about the matter. This lack of focus on the probable emotional reactions of some readers means that they may get upset if my answers challenge their assumptions, which they often do.

My other weaknesses are that I haven’t been able to attend any of the in-person conferences put on by various professional associations and I rarely make time for watching YouTube videos. So, I may be missing some crucial bits of data or perspective.

So, there you have my self assessment. I invite those who know me to add their own thoughts in the comments.


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To Notaries in Georgia

To Notaries in Georgia Who Want to be Notary Signing Agents
— by Tim Gatewood

I have a soft spot for Georgia, as it’s where my mom’s family is from, going back several generations. So, please accept the following as my attempt to help out some Georgians who are also notaries, which makes them my people twice over.

Normally, for a notary who wants to be an NSA, I would suggest a specific article from this website to help you get started. However, as you’re in Georgia, which is an attorney-only state, I’m going to take a different path.

Being a notary in Georgia means the only NSA work you can do is for properties that are not in GA (but the owners happen to be there at the time of the closing).

There’s going to be very little of that, and what there is will mostly be clustered in two areas:

  1. around military bases (if the service member is living on base but owns property in another state) or
  2. in rich areas (if the rich folks own more than one home).

If you happen to be near one of those, you’re going to be competing against already established NSAs, as well as other new NSAs who may be willing to take fees that are too low to cover costs just to get some experience.

This is going to be very intense competition and there may simply not be enough business there for even one more NSA.

You can get some NSA-related work doing applications, but actual loans that involve GA real estate require an attorney.

Your only other option for NSA work is to get in with an attorney, which presents its own set of challenges.

You can make money doing general notary work. For how to do that, I recommend Laura Vestanen’s book called _Marketing Your Non-Loan Notary Services_. You can find it on Amazon or abebooks.com or alibris.com or eBay.

I wish the NNA would stop selling certification in attorney only states and that all the online training would be very clear about this before they take your money. It’s hard enough to launch a new NSA business without that attorney-only barrier to success in your way.

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Beware of Debt Resolution Presentations

Some signing services are now diversifying by offering assignments to do debt settlements or debt resolution presentations. While these appear to be just another type of assignment, they are not.

As Patrick Manning recently commented in a notary group on Facebook:

“a Debt Resolution Presentation, is an appointment where you read a script and show slides, to explain (the bare minimum) to the borrower what the Debt Resolution process is. The law office provides you all the documents, you read the script, word for word, and have the Borrower initial the slides. Then, you go through the documents, and have the Borrower sign, and you notarize where indicated. That’s the pleasant way to say it.

Here is the direct way to say it. In my un-legal opinion (I’m not a lawyer), debt resolutions conducted by a NSA, is a tiny loophole that law offices use, to circumvent the federal regulation and requirement, that they MUST have a face-to-face meeting with the client, BEFORE signing any documents, and entering into an agreement. Before I was educated, I conducted a few of these appointments. There is wording in the script, that leads the borrower to believe, that you work for the law firm. After I learned more about it, I decline each and every one. Not to mention, I think they are taking advantage of people that are in a financial crisis, and see no way out.”

He also shared a few links that have been seen several times there on Facebook when this topic came up, one from the FTC (FTC Reaches Settlement with Nationwide Debt Relief Provider) and one from Get Out of Debt (Notary Network Appears To Sell Way Around Telemarketing Sales Rules for Debt Settlement Companies).

I agree with Patrick that these type of assignments are ethically and legally questionable at best. So, I’m not doing them.

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