There are two things that every notary should do:
- Know the law in your state as it relates to notary duties and responsibilites.
- 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;
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.