A notary public is a public servants appointed by state government whose duties include witnessing an individual signing important documents (e.g. Power of Attorney, Trust Agreements, Wills, etc.) and administering oaths. A Notary Public is an impartial witness and identifies the signers to deter fraud and verify the individual enters the agreement knowingly and willingly.
What is a Notarization?
A Notarization means that the signer executed their signature personally in the presence of the Notary Public and, in some instances that they vouch under oath or affirmation that the contents of the document are true to the best of their knowledge. The identification of the individual is authenticated prior to notarization.
Documents are notarized to deter fraud and to ensure they are properly executed. Notaries public identify signers to screen out impostors and to make sure they have entered into agreements knowingly and willingly.
- Have the same duties and responsibilities as those in other countries
- Is not authorized to practice law
- May not give legal advice or prepare legal documents
- May not charge a fee for preparation of immigration documents or represent someone in immigration matters
Asking a notary to notarize a document that they did not witness the signing of or to notarize a document prior to the client signing is asking the notary to violate the law and is never acceptable under any circumstances.
Private investigators use notaries to notarize legal documents.
Following are reference websites that contain a variety of information on notary publics, including links to state notary public websites, training, procedures for how to become a notary and more.
- National Notary Association – Provides a vast amount of information and resources related to the education and support of US Notaries as they carry out their vital role in protecting the public. Provides information on how to become licensed in every state in the U.S.
Requirements to Become Licensed
The requirements to become a notary vary between each state. Following are some of the more common requirements. Please check the state websites listed above for specific state requirements:
- You must be a resident in the state
- You must be at least 18 years of age
- The applicant must sign a written statement under oath as to whether he/she has ever been convicted of a crime that has not been annulled by a court, other than minor traffic violations.
- An application must be completed
- A fee is typically required along with the application
Miscellaneous Terms and Definitions
- Affidavit – is a written statement sworn to before an officer authorized to administer an oath. A person “makes” an affidavit by going before a notary or other officer and swearing to the contents of a written document.
- Affiant – is the person making a statement under oath.
- Acknowledged – the signer confirmed or admitted to the notary to having signed a document.
- Before me – that the act was conducted in the presence of the notary.
- Credible witness – is a third person who personally knows the document signer and verifies the signer’s identity.
- Execute – making or completing a signature
- Instrument – “document”
- Jurat – is the notary’s certificate on an affidavit
- Personal knowledge – having an acquaintance, derived from association with the individual, which establishes the individual’s identity with at least a reasonable certainty.
- Satisfactory evidence – is valid ID card or papers, or use of a credible witness.
- Subscribed – means “signature” or “signed.”
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