The Importance Of Notarizing Loan Documents: “Wasn’t Me” Defense

By: Kristen Wetzel Ladd

Importance of NotarizingWhat happens in a situation where an obligor on a debt disputes that the signature on the loan document was that of the obligor? Further, assume that the signature on the loan document was notarized. Many creditors have their loan documents notarized precisely to avoid this nightmare situation: the obligor asserting that it is not his/her signature on the document. This assertion, in most cases, will not rear its ugly head until the loan is in default and collection has commenced.

On the other hand, there are some creditors who do not regularly have their loan documents notarized. Creditors should always insist on their loan documents being notarized. Why? First, a notary’s seal creates a legal presumption that the notary properly performed his/her duty and, in the absence of fraud, is held to be conclusive. See Commonwealth v. Haines, 97 Pa. 228, 1881 WL 13754. The notarized seal is presumed to speak the truth and is prima facie evidence of the matter asserted therein. Id. Second, the notarized seal establishes that the person who signed before the notary public appeared and executed the document, and this fact may be relied upon by a third party. In Re Bokey’s Estate, 412 Pa. 244 (1963). Therefore, the creditor can rely on the notarization and a presumption is established that the obligor appeared and signed the document. This presumption may only be overcome with a showing that there was actual fraud in the execution of the document. Thus, the notarization of a document provides the creditor with an extra layer of protection, which may especially come into play during collection, just in case the obligor tries the “wasn’t me” defense.

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