Notary Public vs. Attorney: What's the Difference?
Have you ever needed to get a legal document notarized and wondered if you needed an attorney to do it? Or maybe you've needed legal advice and wondered if a notary public could help you out?
These two professions are often mentioned in the same breath, but they are actually quite different. It can be confusing to understand the differences between a notary public and an attorney, especially when it comes to legal matters.
In this blog post, we'll break down the key differences between these two professions and help you understand when it's appropriate to seek the services of a notary public versus an attorney.
Who is a notary public?
Let's start by discussing who a notary public is. Essentially, a notary public is an official appointed by the state government to act as a witness to the signing of important legal documents.
Notaries public are commonly found in places like banks, law offices, and government buildings, and they often charge a fee for their services. In order to become a notary public, one must meet certain qualifications and pass a state-administered exam.
The requirements to become a notary public vary from state to state, but in general, they must be a legal resident of the state, be at least 18 years old, and have a clean criminal record.
Some of the common documents that a notary public can witness and certify include wills, power of attorney documents, real estate deeds, and loan documents. By having a notary public witness the signing of these documents, it provides an extra layer of protection against fraud and ensures that the document is legally binding.
So, to sum it up, a notary public is a public official appointed by the state to witness the signing of legal documents and certify that they are authentic.
While they can be a valuable resource for certain legal matters, it's important to understand that they are not lawyers and cannot provide legal advice.
Who is an Attorney?
In contrast, An attorney is a legal professional who has completed a law degree and has been licensed to practice law by the state in which they work. Attorneys can provide legal advice, draft legal documents, and represent clients in court. They are trained in a wide range of legal specialties, such as criminal law, civil law, family law, and more.
Attorneys have the ability to take on complex legal cases and are equipped with the knowledge and experience necessary to represent clients in court.
They are often sought out for legal advice in matters such as estate planning, business formation, and real estate transactions.
Attorneys can also negotiate on behalf of their clients in legal disputes and help to ensure that their clients are treated fairly under the law.
It's important to note that attorneys are held to a high ethical standard and must adhere to a strict code of professional conduct. This includes maintaining confidentiality with clients, avoiding conflicts of interest, and upholding the law.
Attorneys who violate these ethical standards can face disciplinary action, including suspension or disbarment from the practice of law.
Overall, attorneys are an essential part of the legal system and are critical for ensuring that individuals and businesses are protected under the law.
Key differences: Notary Public Vs Attorney
One key difference between a notary public and an attorney is the level of education and training required. To become a notary public, an individual must typically complete a short training course and pass a state-administered exam. In contrast, becoming an attorney requires a significant investment of time and money.
Most attorneys have at least a bachelor's degree, followed by three years of law school and the successful completion of a state bar exam.
Another important difference is the scope of their respective practices. Notaries are limited in the types of documents they can witness and the services they can provide. They are not allowed to give legal advice or represent clients in legal proceedings.
In contrast, attorneys have a much broader range of services they can offer and are qualified to handle a wide range of legal issues.
It's also worth noting that notaries are not necessarily experts in the law. While they may have some knowledge of legal documents and processes, they are not qualified to provide legal advice or representation.
On the other hand, attorneys are trained and qualified to provide legal advice and representation.
So, when might you need a notary public?
If you need to have a document witnessed and signed, a notary public can provide that service. For example, if you are buying or selling a house, you will likely need a notary to witness the signing of the contract. On the other hand, if you have a legal issue or question, you will likely need to consult an attorney.
For example, if you are facing criminal charges, going through a divorce, or drafting a will, you will need the expertise and representation of an attorney.
In summary, while notaries public and attorneys may both play a role in the legal process, they are quite different professions. Notaries are responsible for witnessing the signing of important documents, while attorneys are trained and qualified to provide legal advice and representation.
When deciding which type of professional to consult, it's important to consider the specific services you need and the qualifications of the individual you are considering.