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Notary Powers and Duties
As of July 1, 1993, all notaries public may exercise the powers of the office in all counties in Tennessee. T.C.A. 8-16-208
Notaries public have the power to administer oaths, take depositions, qualify parties to bills in chancery, and take affidavits. T.C.A. 8-16-302
Notaries public can take an acknowledgement or affidavit of a nonresident of the State of Tennessee if that person is physically present within this state.
A notary should not acknowledge his or her own signature nor notarize any signature if he or she is a party to the transaction or agent of a party taking an acknowledgement.
A notary should under no circumstances take the acknowledgement of a person who does not appear before the notary since the statue by express language, “personally appeared before me”, demands actual appearance. The notary should see one of the following forms of identification before notarizing any document:
A notary must sign documents in ink by his or her own hand. T.C.A. 8-16-302.
A notary should affix his or her official seal in all cases. T.C.A. 8-16-206, 8-16-301.
The true date of expiration of the notary’s commission must be written, stamped, or printed on every certificate of acknowledgement. While a violation of this requirement will not generally invalidate the certificate of acknowledgement, it is a Class C misdemeanor. T.C.A. 8-16-303. However, where the true date of expiration shows the commission has expired, the certificate of acknowledgement is invalid. T.C.A. 8-16-308; Haynes v. State, 374 W.W. 2d 394 (Tenn. 1964).
Fees and Records
The statutory fees allowed a notary are as follows:
The notary should understand that the notary’s duty is merely to take the acknowledgement to the instrument, after receiving proper identification of the affiant, or to take the oath of the affiant or other notarization. If it is necessary for the notary to prepare the affidavit for the affiant’s signature and oath, an additional fee for that service is allowable, depending on the nature of the service. If additional services are stenographic in nature, a stenographer’s fee, or if said additional services are performed by an attorney and are legal in nature, an attorney’s fee, may be appropriate.
In order to charge the statutory fee, a notary must keep a record in a well-bound book of each of his or her attestations, protestations, and other instruments of publication. A record of fees received should also be kept for income tax records. It is recommended that every notary keep a record of his or her acts in a well-bound book, which should include:
Tennessee statutes provide that if a notary who takes acknowledgement of a deed or other instrument fails or refuses to comply with and discharge the duties required of a notary, he or she shall forfeit and pay the sum of $100.00 for the use of the county of the notary's residence and shall, moreover, be liable to the party injured for all damages, including costs, the party may sustain by the notary's failure or refusal to discharge the statutory duties. T.C.A. 66-22-113. Such action can be based on the negligence or misconduct of the notary. Other penalties for misconduct are discussed earlier in this publication. Liability is not limited to the amount of the statutorily mandated bond. Professional liability insurance may be available for a notary public.
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