Do you need a notary? What can a notary do for you? If you’re looking for an official witness for a variety of documents that require such a service, you may need a notary. Here’s more about what a notary is and what a notary does.
The National Notary Association notes: A Notary Public is an official of integrity appointed by state government —typically by the secretary of state — to serve the public as an impartial witness in performing a variety of official fraud-deterrent acts related to the signing of important documents. These official acts are called notarizations, or notarial acts. Notaries are publicly commissioned as “ministerial” officials, meaning that they are expected to follow written rules without the exercise of significant personal discretion, as would otherwise be the case with a “judicial” official.
What duties does a Notary perform?
A Notary’s duty is to screen the signers of important documents — such as property deeds, wills and powers of attorney — for their true identity, their willingness to sign without duress or intimidation, and their awareness of the contents of the document or transaction. Some notarizations also require the Notary to put the signer under an oath, declaring under penalty of perjury that the information contained in a document is true and correct.
Impartiality is the foundation of the Notary’s public trust. They are duty-bound not to act in situations where they have a personal interest. The public trusts that the Notary’s screening tasks have not been corrupted by self-interest. And impartiality dictates that a Notary never refuse to serve a person due to race, nationality, religion, politics, sexual orientation or status as a non-customer.
As official representatives of the state, Notaries Public certify the proper execution of many of the life-changing documents of private citizens — whether those diverse transactions convey real estate, grant powers of attorney, establish a prenuptial agreement, or perform the multitude of other activities that enable our civil society to function.
When do you need a notary?
There are a number of official documents that require a notarized signature. Only a Notary can perform this service. The Notary witnesses your signature and verifies that s/he confirmed your identity and that you were the person who signed the document. One of the most common times individuals encounter notaries is during a closing on a house. Home mortgage closings feature a number of legal documents which must be signed, and those signatures must be witnessed. A Notary Public can witness and certify the signatures on these important documents.
Notarization: The Role of the Notary
Notarization is the official fraud-deterrent process that assures the parties of a transaction that a document is authentic, and can be trusted. It is a three-part process, performed by a Notary Public, that includes of vetting, certifying and record-keeping. Notarizations are sometimes referred to as “notarial acts.”
Above all, notarization is the assurance by a duly appointed and impartial Notary Public that a document is authentic, that its signature is genuine, and that its signer acted without duress or intimidation, and intended the terms of the document to be in full force and effect.
The central value of notarization lies in the Notary’s impartial screening of a signer for identity, willingness and awareness. This screening detects and deters document fraud, and helps protect the personal rights and property of private citizens from forgers, identity thieves and exploiters of the vulnerable. Every day the process of notarization prevents countless forged, coerced and incompetent signings that would otherwise overwhelm our court system and dissolve the network of trust allowing our civil society to function.
What is involved in Notarization?
The Notary’s screening of the signer for identity, volition and awareness is the first part of a notarization.
The second part is entering key details of the notarization in the Notary’s “journal of notarial acts.” Keeping such a chronological journal is a widely endorsed best practice, if not a requirement of law. Some states even require document signers to leave a signature and a thumbprint in the Notary’s journal.
The third part is completing a “notarial certificate” that states exactly what facts are being certified by the Notary in the notarization. Affixation of the Notary’s signature and seal of office on the certificate climaxes the notarization. The seal is the universally recognized symbol of the Notary office. Its presence gives a notarized document considerable weight in legal matters and renders it genuine on its face (i.e., prima facie evidence) in a court of law.