Dominic Mestas on the set of "What is a notary public"
Candid shot of the Filming of "On location with Fabie Combs" What is a notary public? on July 23, 2011

Fabie Combs:                  Next, we’ll be chatting with Tim Levin, another seasoned notary.

Welcome Tim. Thank you for being here today.

Timothy Levin:                Thank you.

Fabie Combs:                  Now, your company is Performance Notary, and you’ve been involved since 2004.

Timothy Levin:                Correct.

Fabie Combs:                  Can you tell me the specific types of notaries you do? I know there’s quite a few different types, but what would you say the majority of your business is?

Timothy Levin:                Probably 50/50 foreign documents and business documents.

Fabie Combs:                  Speaking of foreign documents, tell me what an apostille is.

Timothy Levin:                The document we use in a foreign country.

Fabie Combs:                  Can you give me some examples of an apostille? How someone would need an apostille?

Timothy Levin:                Adoption is more of the commonly used, or medical patents to be used in foreign countries.

Fabie Combs:                  Anything to do with property?

Timothy Levin:                Yes. Power of attorneys is widely used. That’s a number one of a, I wouldn’t say normal, but the individual would use the power of attorney. Most companies don’t use the power of attorney.

Fabie Combs:                  And what percentage of that in your business?

Timothy Levin:                50 percent.

Fabie Combs:                  Really?

Timothy Levin:                Yes.

Fabie Combs:                  So you’re kind of an expert in that field.

Timothy Levin:                I’ve done very many of them. Yes.

Fabie Combs:                  Tim, if someone were to call you and they wanted something legalized as far as a document and authenticated, what does that mean, actually?

Timothy Levin:                Authenticated process is done at the county level. Some countries do ask for authentication, but normally that’s done at the county.

Legalization is done at the embassy or consulate level, and it basically takes the process of notarizing a document, verifying the notary by the county, and then the state would certify the document and then it would go on to the embassy or consulate to get legalized.

Fabie Combs:                  Sounds like quite a process.

Timothy Levin:                Yes. It is.

Fabie Combs:                  And speaking of that, what kind of fees would someone incur to have something like that done?

Timothy Levin:                Anywhere from $150 to over one thousand dollars.

Fabie Combs:                  My goodness.

Timothy Levin:                For one document.

Fabie Combs:                  But there’s a lot of legwork on your part.

Timothy Levin:                When you do legalization, that must be done through Washington, so you have the Department of State involved, too.

Fabie Combs:                  And what about an apostille?

Timothy Levin:                The apostille normally stops at state level, and that’s a part of a process members of the Hague Convention, and that means that certification process of the document stops at state level.

Fabie Combs:                  And do a lot of notaries do apostilles?

Timothy Levin:                No. No, they don’t.

Fabie Combs:                  Do people come up to ask you for different forms? When they come to see you do they expect you to have a power of attorney or a grant deed, what have you?

Timothy Levin:                Yes. That’s a common problem where people think that I have all the documents for everything they need done.

Fabie Combs:                  Now if you were to go into a nursing home, say, and they don’t have a passport, they don’t have an ID, driver’s license, and they need help for financial and for healthcare reasons, are you able to do a notary there?

Timothy Levin:                50/50 we can do that. For the financial we can, but for the health we’d have to bring in a California ombudsman.

Fabie Combs:                  And can you explain a little bit about that?

Timothy Levin:                The ombudsman is somebody that’s for patient’s rights, and they’re an advocate for people in long term care. The ombudsman would come in and talk to the client and make sure that they are to the capacity understand what they are doing and can make healthcare related decisions.

Fabie Combs:                  So if you were in a nursing home and they had trouble signing their name but the doctor said that they were coherent and knew what they were doing, would they still be able to have something notarized if it had to do with healthcare as well as finances?

Timothy Levin:                Finance, yes. You’d bring in credible witnesses. People that can tell me who that person is and under oath swear to that fact. And then as far as trouble signing, that’s not a problem because we can notarize something by a mark.

Fabie Combs:                  Really?

Timothy Levin:                Yes.

Fabie Combs:                  I didn’t know that.

Timothy Levin:                Yes. So that’s a way … if they can’t use their hands, they can use their mouth. As long as they make the mark.

Fabie Combs:                  Have you ever had to do a notarization for someone that’s blind?

Timothy Levin:                Yes. I have.

Fabie Combs:                  You have to have someone interpret?

Timothy Levin:                As long as I can communicate with the person, that’s all that I need. But the persona must have already had prior knowledge to what they’re signing. They have to understand it completely. That would be something I would ask the person signing the document.

Fabie Combs:                  And that would be advice that was given to them by someone else or read to them by someone else.

Timothy Levin:                Correct.

Fabie Combs:                  Not by you.

Timothy Levin:                Correct.

Fabie Combs:                  I understand you had an interesting signing that took you two days. Can you briefly explain that?

Timothy Levin:                It was a four to five hundred million dollar deal that was done and 11 principals had to sign, and it came out to over 600 documents.

Fabie Combs:                  Wow. No wonder it took two days.

Timothy Levin:                We were fighting hand cramps.

Fabie Combs:                  My goodness. And something like that, when you’ve doing multiple signatures, you give a special rate, I would guess.

Timothy Levin:                Oh, of course. Oh, yes.

Fabie Combs:                  Now I know that you can only charge $10 for an acknowledgement, $5 for jurats in the state of California.

Timothy Levin:                Maximum. Correct.

Fabie Combs:                  But you can charge less.

Timothy Levin:                Correct.

Fabie Combs:                  Now one of the things that I realize with you that you actually give back to the community. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Timothy Levin:                I’ve been volunteering at the Huntington Beach Senior Center for probably six, seven years now. It’s a service that I can provide to the seniors to get their affairs or their documents notarized without a concern for cost.

Fabie Combs:                  That’s great. Are there a lot of notaries that do things like that?

Timothy Levin:                I know of two. Myself and another person that does every other week when I’m not there.

Fabie Combs:                  Now other than that, when you’re actually doing notarizations, do you collect up front? Or do you collect after the signing?

Timothy Levin:                It’s always taught to you to collect up front, but I don’t feel that’s a good business practice. I feel to collect after the job has been finished completely.

Fabie Combs:                  Now as far as going into prisons or jails, do you have to be on a type of approved list to go in?

Timothy Levin:                That is the case now. With Orange County you have to have security clearance, and that’s done by the county.

Fabie Combs:                  And what times can you go?

Timothy Levin:                24/7. Anytime. They never close for official business.

Fabie Combs:                  That’s great.

If a wife calls you and says, “I need to get a notarization for my husband and myself. My husband works. Can I bring some identification for him so that you can notarize both of our signatures?”

Timothy Levin:                No. The law states that you have to appear in front of a notary.

Fabie Combs:                  Ah. Okay.

Timothy Levin:                So he physically needs to be in front of me for me to notarize something.

Fabie Combs:                  And when someone calls you, what do you tell them before you go do a notary?

Timothy Levin:                Make sure they have current and valid identification.

Fabie Combs:                  So I see you have your equipment here, and one of the things I notice is your embosser. That’s not used as much in California. Is it?

Timothy Levin:                Correct. I use it more for foreign documents. Foreign governments and that, they recognize the embossed stamp more because anything that comes from a county, state, or federal is embossed on a piece of paper or gold seals.

Fabie Combs:                  And I understand, too, to photocopy anything, this transfers much easier than the embossment.

Timothy Levin:                Correct. Anything that’s going to be recorded must be 100 percent reproducible. That’s why we use a stamp.

Fabie Combs:                  Tim, what was your most unusual notary that you’ve ever done?

Timothy Levin:                One does come to mind. It was a divorce settlement in a Circle K parking lot. And one of the people getting notarized didn’t have their identification, so we had to bring in credible witnesses to identify the person. That brought more people to the parking lot, which made for more confusion.

Fabie Combs:                  Is there anything that you would like to add to people watching? Maybe to be prepared for the next time they need a document notarized?

Timothy Levin:                I think the most important thing is understand what they’re doing and what they need a notary for.

Fabie Combs:                  Very good. Thank you so much for your information. It’s been very valuable.

Timothy Levin:                Thank you.

Fabie Combs:                  Did you know there are approximately five million notary publics worldwide? There are notaries in every country. The United States has the most notaries and California leads the pack with about 168 thousand.

In India, notaries serve as arbitrators while in China they’re authorized to give instruction on the preparation of legal documents.

Ink seals are more legible when a document is photocopied. However, Alabama and the U.S. Virgin Islands require an embossed or raised seal.

Most states do not require a stamp and an embossing seal, but a good idea for further protection of the documents.

A glossy surfaced fax document should never be notarized as the printing will fade in time.

Fax signatures cannot be notarized.

California has a Certified Copy by Document Custodian Form that is a hybrid, which is an acknowledgement where a signature is witnessed and a jurat, which is attesting to or affirming by oath document combined.

Some states do not require a journal, but it is a good idea to have extra documentation for any questionable situations in the future.

Let’s look at some fun and unique notarized items.

Well known singer of the Beatles group John Lennon’s authentic hair shaft was notarized.

Legendary baseball player Hank Aaron’s authentic notarized autograph.

Another famous baseball player, Micky Mantle, seen here with the notary who witnessed and notarized his signature.

Here we have a great Hall of Fame baseball player that played for the Yankees, Lefty Gomez, with his notarized signature, as well.

Even a notarial service was performed for a brick that was affirmed to be from Abraham Lincoln’s home.

One of the Ram’s original fearsome foursome, Deacon Jones’s notarized signature on this football.

Baseball star Ted Williams who played for the Red Sox notarized autograph, also.

Another hair sampling of the famous actress Marilyn Monroe with the notarized document and stamp on the upper left side of this framed collectible.

We’ve certainly learned a lot about what a notary really is. I hope this will help you the next time you need one or want to be one.

I’d like to especially thank Tustin Lexus and the following people for their assistance in this production.

This is Fabie Combs saying hope to see you on location.

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