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Michigan notary bonds are an invaluable fraud prevention tool. They are a type of license and permit surety bond designed to guarantee that Michigan notaries public perform their duties in compliance with all applicable state laws and ethical standards. Those duties include verifying the identity of a person signing a document requiring notarization, witnessing the signing, and applying a seal or stamp attesting to the validity of the signature.
The kinds of documents that need to be notarized typically are those that:
Transfer ownership of property (e.g., deeds, titles)
Attest to the truth of a matter (e.g., affidavits, depositions)
Confer decision-making and asset management authority (e.g., powers of attorney, trust agreements)
A forged signature on one of these documents could result in a significant financial loss by an innocent party. If a court finds a notary public legally responsible for that loss, the injured party can file a claim for damages against the notary’s Michigan notary bond.
Who Needs Them?
Anyone applying to the Michigan Department of State for a notary public commission must purchase a Michigan notary bond in the amount of $10,000 as a mandatory step in the commissioning process.This amount, the bond’s penal sum, is the maximum that will be paid on a single claim against the bond.
The term of a Michigan notary bond (the length of time before it expires) is at least 6 years and no more than 7 years from the notary’s next birthday at the time the commission is issued. There must always be a $10,000 bond in effect to avoid commission suspension or revocation.
Because Michigan notary bonds protect the public, not notaries, most notaries purchase errors and omissions insurance for their own financial protection.
How Do They Work?
A Michigan notary bond agreement is a legally binding contract between three parties:
The “obligee” requiring the bond is the Michigan Department of State
The “principal” required to purchase the bond is the notary public
The “surety” issuing the bondis the surety bond company
The legal obligation to pay valid claims rests entirely with the principal. However, to ensure prompt payment of claims and give the principal some time to gather the necessary funds, the surety usually pays a claim on behalf of the principal. The principal must then repay that debt to the surety.
When claims draw down the penal sum of a Michigan notary bond, the obligee can require the principal to purchase an additional bond to bring the amount available for the payment of claims back up to $10,000.
What Do They Cost?
Michigan notary bonds are sold for a one-time flat fee that’s typically $50 to $100, without going through an underwriting process.
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