The Dos and Don'ts of Notarizing Documents
The process of notarizing a document can be confusing and overwhelming, especially if you've never done it before.
Notarizing a document essentially involves having a third party, known as a notary public, witness the signing of a document and certify that the signature is genuine.
This can be an important step for a variety of legal and financial documents, as it helps to prevent fraud and ensures the authenticity of the document.
Despite its importance, notarizing a document is not always a straightforward process. In this article, we will discuss a few dos and don'ts that you should be aware of as a notary to ensure that your document is properly notarized.
Is the document appropriate for notarization?
First and foremost, it's important to make sure that the document you want to notarize is appropriate for notarization. Not all documents can be notarized, and attempting to notarize an ineligible document can cause problems down the line.
Some common examples of documents that can be notarized include deeds, contracts, and powers of attorney.
If you're not sure whether or not your document is eligible for notarization, it's a good idea to consult with a lawyer or the notary public who will be performing the notarizations.
How can a notary ensure that a document is appropriate for notarization?
- Verify the identity of the signer(s): A notary must ensure that the person(s) signing the document is the person(s) they claim to be. This can be done by examining a government-issued ID, such as a driver's license or passport.
- Review the document: A notary should carefully review the document to ensure that it is complete, legible, and contains all necessary information and signatures.
- Check for any notarial wording: The document should contain notarial wording that describes the type of notarial act being performed, such as an acknowledgment or jurat.
- Verify the signer's willingness and understanding: A notary should confirm that the signer is willing to sign the document and understands the nature and consequences of the document they are signing.
- Make sure the document is not prohibited by law: Notaries are not allowed to notarize certain types of documents, such as those related to adoption, divorce, bankruptcy, etc.
By taking these steps, a notary can help ensure that a document is appropriate for notarization and that the notarization process is conducted properly.
Find a notary public.
Once you've determined that your document is eligible for notarization, the next step is to find a notary public.
Notary publics are typically commissioned by the state government, and they must pass a test and undergo background checks to become qualified.
You can usually find a notary public at a bank, law office, or other professional service providers. It's important to make sure that the notary public you choose is qualified and licensed to perform notarizations in your state.
Here are a few tips for finding the right notary for you:
- Look for a notary with a good reputation: Ask for recommendations from friends, family, or colleagues. You can also check online reviews and ratings to find a notary with a good reputation.
- Check for certification and training: Notaries must complete a certain amount of training and pass a certification exam to become a notary. Look for a notary who is properly trained and certified.
- Look for a notary who is available when you need them: Many notaries offer mobile services, which means they can come to you. Some notaries are only available during certain hours or days, so make sure to find a notary that is available when you need them.
- Consider the fee: Notaries may charge different fees for their services. Compare prices to find a notary that is affordable for you.
- Check their insurance: Notaries Public are required to carry errors and omissions insurance to protect their clients in case of mistakes.
By considering these factors, you can help ensure that you find a notary who is reliable, available, and affordable for your needs.
Carry the right documents.
When you're ready to have your document notarized, there are a few things that you should keep in mind. First, make sure that you bring the appropriate identification with you to the notarization appointment.
This typically includes a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver's license or passport. The notary public will need to verify your identity before proceeding with the notarization.
Clear your legal doubts.
Another important thing to remember is that the notary public will not be able to provide you with any legal advice or guidance regarding the document you want to notarize.
The notary's role is simply to witness the signing of the document and verify that the signature is genuine.
If you have any questions or concerns about the contents of the document, you should consult with a lawyer before proceeding with the notarization.
Once the notary public has witnessed the signing of the document, they will typically stamp or seal the document to certify that it has been notarized. It's important to make sure that the notary puts the stamp or seal in the appropriate place on the document, as this will be necessary for the document to be considered legally valid.
Don't sign before the notary arrives!
There are also a few things that you should avoid when it comes to notarizing a document. One of the most important things to avoid is signing the document before the notary public arrives.
The notary must witness the signing of the document in order for the notarization to be considered valid, so it's crucial that you don't sign the document until the notary is present.
Read the document carefully!
Another thing to avoid is not reading the document carefully before signing it. It's important to make sure that you understand the contents of the document and are comfortable with the terms and conditions before signing.
If you have any doubts or concerns, it's a good idea to consult with a lawyer before proceeding with the notarization.
Choose a licensed notary.
Finally, it's important to avoid using a notary public who is not licensed and qualified to perform notarizations in your state.