KANSAS NOTARY PUBLIC HANDBOOK

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KANSASNOTARY PUBLICHANDBOOKPrepared by the Office of Secretary of State Scott Schwab

Prepared by theOffice of Secretary of StateScott SchwabFor all questions or concerns aboutKansas notaries public, contact:Kansas Secretary of StateAttn: Notary ClerkFirst Floor, Memorial Hall120 SW 10th Avenue.Topeka, KS 66612-1594(785) 296-4564Fax: (785) 296-4570https://[email protected]

Kansas Notary HandbookTable of ContentsTitleI.PagePurpose of Notaries Public4Duties of Notaries Public5III.Guidelines for Notaries Public7IV.Penalties for Improper Notarizations14Helpful Hints for Notaries Public15VI.Frequently Asked Questions18VII.Test Your Notary Knowledge26Glossary of Terms29II.V.VIII.This is an interactive PDF. Click on any chapter title in this table ofcontents to go to that chapter. Click the running header on any page toreturn to the table of contents.

Kansas Notary HandbookI. Purpose of Notaries PublicNotaries hold an important position in Kansas. It is essential thatnotaries understand the notarial duties and responsibilities underKansas law. The purpose of this handbook is to provide an overviewof notary laws and to help notaries correctly perform their duties.The purpose of a notary public is to prevent fraud and forgery. Thenotary acts as an official, unbiased witness to the identity of the person who signs the document. A Kansas notary public has five majorduties:1.2.3.4.5.4Take acknowledgments,Administer oaths and affirmations,Take a verification upon oath or affirmation,Witness or attest a signature, andCertify or attest a copy.

Kansas Notary HandbookII. Duties of Notaries PublicKansas notaries public are appointed by the secretary of state. Anappointed notary may notarize anywhere within the state, but thepowers do not extend beyond the borders of the state.Under Kansas law, a notary can perform the following duties andany other act permitted by law:(A) Acknowledgments: A person appears before the notary and acknowledges or declares to the notary that he or she signed thedocument.(B) Witnessing: A person signs in the presence of the notary. Thenotary public must witness the signature.(C) Verification: A person appears before the notary, who administers an oath to the person. The person then signs in the presenceof the notary following the oath (see procedure below for administering oaths).(D) Administering an Oath/Affirmation: A person raises their righthand or places their right hand on the Bible. The notary administers the oath, which must begin with the words “You do solemnlyswear” and end with the words “So help you God.” Those opposed to oaths may perform an affirmation, which begins withthe words “You do solemnly, sincerely, and truly declare and affirm” and ends with the words “And this you do under the painsand penalties of perjury.”(E) Certifying Copies: The notary certifies that the document is atrue and correct copy of the original document. The notary mustbe presented with the original document and make the copy toensure that the copy is in fact a true copy of the original.5

Kansas Notary HandbookOriginal documents on file with an office/entity must be certifiedby that entity (i.e., court documents are certified by the courtclerk who retains the originals; corporation documents filedwith the Secretary of State’s office are certified by the secretaryof state; birth/death certificates are certified by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Office of Vital Statistics,which maintains the original records, etc.).This procedure should not be used for publicly recorded documentsbecause the public cannot obtain the original.6

Kansas Notary HandbookIII. Guidelines for Notaries PublicPersonal Appearance RequiredAll notary acts require that the person signing the document appearbefore the notary. Notaries should not notarize a document outside thepresence of the signing party. State law requires a notary to properlyidentify the person to ensure that he or she signed the document; theonly way to perform this duty is to have the person appear before thenotary. Failure to require a personal appearance by the signing partyis the leading cause of notary civil and criminal liability and loss ofthe notary appointment (K.S.A. 53-503).Notary Seal; Signature; Date of ExpirationEach notary must have a notarial seal, which shall contain the notary’s name exactly as it appears on the notary application. The sealmust include the words “Notary Public” and “State of Kansas.” Thisseal must be used whenever a notary performs an official act. Whennotarizing a document, the notary must add to the document thedate of expiration of his or her appointment. The notary’s seal mustbe either a seal press or a rubber stamp. If a seal press is used, the impression from the seal must be inked or blackened. If a rubber stampis used, the stamp must have permanent ink. Both the seal press andthe rubber stamp must be capable of legible reproduction after copying. A seal cannot be used until an impression of the seal has beenfiled with the Secretary of State’s office. A seal or stamp is filed as partof the notary’s application (K.S.A. 53-105).A notary seal or stamp can be obtained at any office supply store orin some instances through the bonding company.Failure to Attach Date of ExpirationA notary who willfully neglects or refuses to attach his or her dateof expiration of appointment when notarizing a document shall bedeemed guilty of a Class C misdemeanor (K.S.A. 53-106). Failure to7

Kansas Notary Handbookattach the date of expiration also may be grounds for revocation ofthe notary’s appointment (K.S.A. 53-118).Verification of IdentityWhen notarizing a document, the notary must exercise reasonablecare in determining the identity of the person whose signature isbeing notarized. This is important because the public relies on thenotarization as proof of the authenticity of the person’s signature onthe document (K.S.A. 53-107).Determining the Type of NotarizationThe type of notarization should be evident from the notary blockon the document. If the notary block is not already on the document, the signing party or the party drafting/providing the document should instruct the notary which notarial block is required(acknowledgment, witnessing or verification). The type of notarization is generally prescribed in the law that governs the document.The notary should know the correct language to be used when theperson explains what type of notarization is needed. Generally, if theform to be notarized does not contain a notary block, the documentis not required to be notarized.Contents of a Notarial Block or CertificateTo complete a notarial block, specific information must be presented. The required information includes:1. Venue (State of Kansas, County of ).2. Declarative wording giving the signing party’s name, describingthe type of notarization and stating the date of the notarization.3. Notary’s signature.4. Notary’s stamp or seal.5. Notary’s date of expiration.(This block of information is referred to as the “notarial block” or“notarial certificate.”)8

Kansas Notary HandbookKansas statutes contain forms that meet all legal requirements for anotarization (K.S.A. 53-509).The following are examples of completed notary blocks:(a) For an acknowledgment in an individual capacity:State of KansasCounty of ShawneeThis instrument was acknowledged before me on 99/99/9999 by Jane Doe .(Notary stamp)John Doe.(Signature of notarial officer)My appointment expires:99/99/9999(b) For an acknowledgment in a representative capacity:State of KansasCounty of ShawneeThis instrument was acknowledged before me on 99/99/9999 by Jane Doe asPresident of ABC, Inc.(Notary stamp)John Doe.(Signature of notarial officer)My appointment expires:999/99/9999

Kansas Notary Handbook(c) For a verification upon oath or affirmation:State of KansasCounty of ShawneeSigned and sworn to (or affirmed) before me on 99/99/9999 by Jane Doe .(Notary stamp)John Doe.(Signature of notarial officer)My appointment expires:99/99/9999(d) For witnessing or attesting a signature:State of KansasCounty of ShawneeSigned or attested before me on 99/99/9999 by Jane Doe .(Notary stamp)John Doe.(Signature of notarial officer)My appointment expires:99/99/9999(e) For attestation of a copy of a document:State of KansasCounty of ShawneeI certify that this is a true and correct copy of a document in the possession ofJane Doe.Dated: 99/99/9999(Notary stamp)10John Doe.(Signature of notarial officer)My appointment expires:99/99/9999

Kansas Notary Handbook(f) For power of attorney in a representative capacity:State of KansasCounty of ShawneeThis instrument was signed before me on 99/99/9999 by Jane Doeof attorney of Joe Bloggs .(Notary stamp)as powerJohn Doe.(Signature of notarial officer)My appointment expires:99/99/9999Financial or Beneficial InterestA notary cannot perform any notarial act if the notary has a direct financial or beneficial interest in the transaction. A notary has a directfinancial interest if the notary is named individually as a principal tothe financial transaction for which a document is being notarized.If the transaction involves real property, the notary has direct financial or beneficial interest if the notary is a party to the transaction(i.e., grantor, grantee, mortgagor, mortgagee, etc.). A notary does nothave any financial or beneficial interest in a transaction when thenotary acts in the capacity of an agent, employee, insurer, attorney,escrow agent, or lender for a person having a direct financial or beneficial interest (K.S.A. 53-109).Change of StatusAny changes to a notary public’s name, seal, address or phone number must be filed with the Secretary of State’s office within 30 daysafter such change has occured. If the change is a legal name changethat results in a change of seal or if the notary obtains a new seal forany reason, the seal must be on file with the Secretary of State’s officeprior to being used. The notification form is supplied by the Secretary of State’s office at https://sos.kansas.gov/filing-center/notaryforms (K.S.A. 53-114).11

Kansas Notary HandbookResignation of Notary Public AppointmentA notary shall resign their notary appointment by sending a letter ofresignation to the Secretary of State’s office (K.S.A. 53-116).ReappointmentA notary’s appointment is not automatically renewed. A notary mustreapply for a notary appointment every four years. A new applicationmay be submitted three months before the expiration date. It is important to renew early so the appointment does not expire. A notarycannot perform notarial duties after the appointment has expired.Refusal or Revocation of AppointmentThe secretary of state may refuse to appoint any person as a notaryor may revoke the appointment of a notary upon any of the following grounds:1. A substantial or material misstatement or omission in the application;2. a conviction of a felony or a lesser offense involving moral turpitude or of a nature that would be incompatible with the duties ofa notary public (a plea of nolo contendere is deemed a conviction);3. the revocation, suspension or denial of a professional license ifsuch action was for misconduct, dishonesty or any cause substantially relating to the duties of a notary public;4. the applicant or notary is or becomes incapable of reading orwriting the English language;5. a notary fails to exercise the powers and duties of a notary publicin accordance with the statutes; or6. a violation of the requirements concerning advertising in a foreign language.Any person whose notary appointment is revoked due to reasonsone through five may not apply for another appointment until fouryears from the date of revocation, and any person whose appoint-12

Kansas Notary Handbookment is revoked due to reason six may not apply or receive an appointment for such person’s lifetime (K.S.A. 53-118).Oaths or AffirmationsAll oaths must be administered with the person’s right hand eitheruplifted or upon the Bible (K.S.A. 54-102). An oath must begin with“You do solemnly swear” and conclude with “So help you God.”A person having religious or conscientious objections to oaths mayaffirm. An affirmation must begin with “You do solemnly, sincerelyand truly declare and affirm” and conclude with “And this you dounder the pains and penalties of perjury” (K.S.A. 54-103, 54-104).Advertising in a Foreign LanguageA notary who is not licensed to practice law in the state of Kansasand who advertises the notarization of documents in a foreign language shall include the disclaimer:“I am not authorized to practice law and have no authority to giveadvice on immigration law or other legal matters.”A notary who is not licensed to practice law within the state of Kansas shall not use the term “notario publico” or any similar languageunless it is accompanied by the disclaimer.Failing to comply with this law could result in a permanent loss ofnotary appointment; a violation of the Consumer Protection Act,K.S.A. 50-626; a fine of 5,000 for each infraction; a Class B misdemeanor with a fine of up to 1,000; and a sentence of up to sixmonths in jail (K.S.A. 53-121).13

Kansas Notary HandbookIV. Penalties for Improper NotarizationsIf a notary improperly notarizes a document the following actionscan be taken against the notary:1. A claim can be filed on the notary’s bond.2. The notary can be sued individually based on negligent or willfulmisconduct.3. The notary can be prosecuted on a Class C misdemeanor for failing to attach the date of expiration.4. The notary can be prosecuted for other crimes, such as falsewriting.5. The notary can have his or her appointment revoked by the secretary of state.State law limits the filing of a lawsuit on notarial acts to three yearsafter the cause of the action accrues (K.S.A. 53-113).14

Kansas Notary HandbookV. Helpful Hints for Notaries PublicSigning in Representative Capacity: If the person signs in a representative capacity (i.e., John Smith, as President of ABC Corporation),the notary is not required to check the person’s authority, meaning thenotary does not check to see if John Smith is in fact president of ABCCorporation. Notaries only must verify the person’s legal name (e.g.,check driver’s license or passport). The notary should ensure that thenotarial block indicates that the person is signing in a representativecapacity for the principal (K.S.A. 53-509(b).Signing as Attorney-in-Fact, i.e., Power of Attorney (POA): Anagent authorized by power of attorney to sign for a principal is notrequired to show the POA at the time of notarization. The notarydoes not check the person’s authority to sign, but merely checks theidentity of the agent signing. The document should be signed withthe principal’s name and the agent’s name, with disclosure of the relationship (“by POA” or “as Attorney-in-Fact”). The notary shouldensure that the notarial block indicates that the person is signing ina representative capacity for the principal (K.S.A. 53-509 (b)).Signing Under Penalty of Perjury Instead of Under Oath: K.S.A.53-601 allows a signature under penalty of perjury instead of a notarized, sworn statement. When an affidavit or verification is required,the person can add a statement certifying that he or she is signingunder penalty of perjury instead of requiring him or her to sign under oath before a notary. The statute contains some exceptions, sonotaries should consult the statute before using this alternative. Thestatute requires the following statement prior to signature: (1) If executed outside this state: “I declare under penalty of perjury underthe laws of the state of Kansas that the foregoing is true and correct.”(2) If executed in this state: “I declare under penalty of perjury thatthe foregoing is true and correct.”15

Kansas Notary HandbookRecognition of Out-of-State Notarizations: The full faith and credit clause of the U.S. Constitution requires a state to recognize documents validly executed and notarized under another state’s law. Ifthe document satisfies the requirements of its home state it must berecognized and received by another state. K.S.A. 58-2228 states thatall deeds, mortgages, POAs and other instruments for conveyance orencumbrances of lands that are executed and acknowledged in anyother state in conformity with the laws of that state shall be valid inKansas.Recognition of Documents in Foreign Countries: The Kansas Secretary of State can authenticate documents intended for use in a foreigncountry. The Kansas Secretary of State either issues an “apostille” oran “authentication” depending on whether the country has adoptedThe Hague Convention treaty. The document must be notarized by aKansas notary or by another authorized person in Kansas in order forthe secretary of state to issue an apostille or authentication.Notary Journals: Although not required by law, maintaining a journal of all notarizations performed by the notary protects the notary.The notary should record the name of the person signing, the dateof the signature and the type of document notarized. The notaryshould have the signing party sign the notebook so the notary hasan example of his or her signature. Journals are available from officesupply stores and notary supply catalogs.Charging Fees for Notarial Acts: Kansas notaries may collect a feefor their services. There is no statutory fee schedule that a notary mustfollow; however, the fee must be reasonable for the service provided.Notarizing Wills: A notary may not serve as both a witness and anotary on a will. K.S.A. 59-606 requires the notary to notarize thesignature of the testator and the witnesses. Because a notary cannot witness and notarize his or her own signature, a notary may notserve as both a witness and the notary on a will executed in Kansas.16

Kansas Notary HandbookNotary Public’s Commission is Personal Property: A notary commission belongs to the notary public, regardless of who paid the feesassociated with the commission. The stamp and journal are personalproperty of the notary. Upon leaving an employer, the notary shouldtake the notary seal and notary journal for his or her own protection.Public Officials Serving as Notaries Public: Certain public officialsmay perform notarizations without receiving an official notary appointment from the secretary of state. Kansas judges, court clerksand deputies, county clerks and deputies, and election commissioners and deputies can notarize documents in the state. Notarizationsfrom other states’ judges and court clerks and deputies must be givenrecognition in Kansas as if the notarization occurred here. Notarizations by federal judges, federal court clerks and clerk deputies,military officers, and foreign service and consular officers also mustbe given recognition in Kansas. In addition, registers of deeds canacknowledge instruments conveying or affecting real estate withinKansas (K.S.A. 58-2211).Notarizing Documents to be Recorded with a County Register ofDeeds: If the name or names of the signer or signers or any notarypublic to any instrument to be recorded with a register of deeds arenot plainly typed or printed under the signatures affixed to the instrument, the register of deeds shall charge and collect a fee of 1(K.S.A. 28-115 (d)).17

Kansas Notary HandbookVI. Frequently Asked QuestionsQ. When may I begin notarizing documents?A. A notary may begin notarizing documents after receipt of a certificate of appointment from the secretary of state.Q. What types of notary seals are acceptable in Kansas?A. The notary’s seal shall either be a seal press or a rubber stamp. Thenotary’s seal must contain the notary’s name and the words “NotaryPublic” and “State of Kansas.” If a seal press is used, the impressionmust be inked or blackened so that it may be photocopied.Q. What is a surety?A. A surety guarantees that if the notary fails to properly perform anotarization the surety will indemnify a third party for any damagescaused by the notary’s negligence or misconduct, up to 7,500.Q. What is Errors and Omissions Insurance and do I need it?A. Errors and Omissions Insurance (commonly called E & O) is aform of liability insurance that protects the notary public from claimsor suits that are the result of the notary’s negligent acts, errors or omissions. Much like car insurance, this type of insurance covers investigation, defense and settlement of committed or alleged acts by the insured notary, subject to policy limits and provisions. Kansas law doesnot require errors and omissions insurance; therefore, it is up to thenotary to determine if he or she wants the additional coverage.Q. Can information about a notary application or appointmentbe given to other people?A. Yes. All notary public applications and appointments are open records and subject to public inspection pursuant to the Kansas OpenRecords Act.18

Kansas Notary HandbookQ. What are the most common errors or omissions made by notaries public in notarizing documents?A. The most common errors by notaries in notarizing documentsare: (1) Failing to attach the notary seal; (2) neglecting to attach thenotary’s date of expiration of appointment; (3) failing to sign the notarized document; (4) omitting names and dates from the acknowledgments, oaths and affirmations, etc.; and (5) failing to properlyadminister the oath.Q. What is the most serious error made by notaries in notarizingdocuments?A. The most serious error made by notaries is failure to require theperson to appear before the notary before notarizing the document.The person who signed the document must always appear in person.Failure to observe this requirement may result in criminal and civilliability and the loss of the notary’s commission.Q. May I notarize my own signature and the signatures of myspouse, children, parents or other relatives?A. A notary may not notarize his or her own signature, but may notarize the signatures of his or her spouse, children, parents or otherrelatives. However, the power is limited by K.S.A. 53-109 (prohibitednotarial acts; financial or beneficial interest).Q. May I notarize documents that originate from out of state?A. Yes. Documents originating from another state may be notarizedas long as the signature and the notarial act are performed in Kansas and the notarial certificate indicates “State of Kansas, County of” to identify the jurisdiction in which the notarialact took place.Q. May I notarize documents when I am physically outside thestate of Kansas?A. No. A Kansas notary only has jurisdiction to perform notarialacts while the notary is in the state of Kansas.19

Kansas Notary HandbookQ. Why does the notary block have blanks for state and county,and how do I fill them out?A. The beginning of each notarial certificate should include jurisdictional information that indicates where the document was notarized, similar to the following:State of )County of )This information indicates where the notarization took place. Thenotary completes the venue block by inserting “Kansas” and addingthe county where the notarization occurred. A Kansas notary cannotarize documents in all counties of Kansas but cannot notarizeoutside the state of Kansas.Q. What if the prepared form contains an inaccurate notarialblock, such as a notarial block that contains references to anotherstate?A. The notary can cross through any incorrect information andwrite in the correction. The notary should place his or her initials bythe correction. White-out should not be used, as the receiving partymay reject the notarized document if it contains white-out. Whiteout raises questions about what information was deleted, whereassimply crossing through the incorrect information allows the receiving party to see what information has been altered.Example:STATE OF MISSOURI KANSAS jdCOUNTY OF JACKSON JOHNSON jdQ. Should I charge a fee for my services as a notary?A. There is no statutory fee schedule in Kansas that a notary mustfollow, nor is there a prohibition against a notary charging a fee.Therefore, a notary may charge a reasonable fee for the performanceof a notarial act.20

Kansas Notary HandbookQ. Should I keep a log book of the notarizations that I perform?A. There is no statutory requirement in Kansas that a notary keep alog book or journal. However, it is recommended that a notary keepone for his or her own records and for protection from liability.Q. Can my employer keep my journal or notary stamp after I leavemy job?A. No. A notary appointment is personal to the notary public. Thestamp and journal belong to the notary and must be safeguarded bythe notary to prevent forgeries and other misuse. Even if an employer pays for the notary appointment, the employer cannot convert thestamp and journal. However, if the employer provided the notary’ssurety bond, the employer may cancel the bond.Q. How do I report a change in my name, address or seal while Iam serving as a notary?A. You must report the change to the secretary of state on a form supplied by that office within 30 days after such change has ry-formsQ. What are the liabilities and penalties for notary public misconduct?A. A notary who fails to carry out notary duties correctly may besubject to civil liability for any damages caused by the failure or error.If the notary’s error enables a forgery, false writing or other crime tooccur, the notary also may be held criminally liable as an accessoryto the crime. The secretary of state also may revoke the notary’s appointment. Failure to attach the date of expiration to a notarizationis a Class C misdemeanor.Q. What if my employer insists that I notarize a document whenthe person has not signed or acknowledged his or her signature inmy presence?A. Explain that Kansas law requires that the person appear beforeyou personally before you can notarize the document. Failure to fol21

Kansas Notary Handbooklow this procedure could result in civil and criminal liability for bothyou and your employer. Also, the document may be invalidated by acourt if it is improperly notarized.Q. If my notary appointment expires but I have applied for a newappointment, may I continue to exercise my notarial powers?A. No. There is no carryover or grace period for a notary once his orher appointment has expired. A person whose notary appointmenthas expired may not perform any notarial acts until he or she hasreceived a new certificate of appointment.Q. As a Kansas notary, can I take a person’s acknowledgment inanother state, then return to Kansas and complete the notarialcertificate here?A. No. You cannot perform one part of a notarial act outside the stateand the other part inside the state. Both parts must be executed atthe same time and the same place inside Kansas. A Kansas notarycannot notarize a document outside of Kansas.Q. A person whose identification indicates a first name of “Robert” has asked me to take his acknowledgment on a document hehas signed as “Bob.” Should I insist that he sign as “Robert?”A. Not necessarily. As long as the name that is printed on the document matches the name that is printed on the identification of thesigner, the signature does not have to be legible or identical to theprinted name.Q. Can I notarize documents that I will be signing as an officer onbehalf of a corporation?A. No. You can never notarize your own signature, whether you aresigning for yourself or for a corporation.Q. May a notary give legal advice or draft legal documents?A. No. Unless the notary also is an attorney, the notary cannot act asa legal advisor and cannot prepare legal documents. For example, if a22

Kansas Notary Handbookdocument does not contain a notarial certificate, the notary cannotadvise as to the proper type of notarization. An attorney should beconsulted to determine the proper notarization required for the document (acknowledgment, witnessing or verification).Q. Is notarization required by law?A. Notarization is required for many documents. The Kansas lawgoverning the document will state whether the document must benotarized. The determination whether a document is required to benotarized cannot be made by the notary public.Q. How does a notary identify a signer?A. A notary identifies a signer by carefully examining the identification presented by that person and comparing the signatures theperson has made on the document with the signature on the identification. Proper identification should include a photograph and signature on an identification card, such as a driver’s license or othergovernment-issued identification. It also is considered sufficientidentification if, under oath, a credible witness personally known bythe notary identifies the person.Q. Must a notary determine the competence of the person signingthe document?A. Although there are differing opinions on whether a notary public has a duty to determine the person’s competency, many expertsrecommend that the notary make a limited inquiry into the person’sability to understand the contents of the document that the person issigning. The notary can make a quick assessment by asking the personif he or she understands the document. Clearly, a notary should refuseto notarize the signature of a person who unquestionably has no ability to understand the document.Q. How do I renew my notary appointment?A. A notary must apply for appointment and follow the same procedures required for a new appointment. An existing appointment23

Kansas Notary Handbookcannot be automatically renewed. Application should be made sufficiently prior to expiration to ensure uninterrupted authority, generally three months prior to the expiration of the current appointment.Q. Can I only notarize documents in my own county?A. No, a Kansas notary has authority throughout Kansas. The countyin which the notarial act took place should be inserted in the appropriate blank above th