Who is a Notary Public?
A Notary Public is a public servant appointed by state government to witness the signing of important documents and administer oaths. A Notary Public is a third-party witness to not only the signature of a document but also the fact that all parties who signed did so willingly and under their own power.
Why do we Notarize Documents?
You’ve probably had documents notarized, but did you know why? Is there really a purpose or benefit to having a document notarized? Having a Notary Public witness a signature serves as a powerful risk management tool that prevents fraud and identity theft, among others. Documents are notarized to deter fraud and to ensure they are properly executed. An impartial witness (the Notary) identifies signatories to screen out impostors and to make sure they have entered into agreements knowingly and willingly.
Why is Notarization Importance?
Chief among the reasons to have certain documents notarized is that having a document notarized is a deterrent to fraud.
Notarization not only makes it more likely that signatories are who they claim they are but also is mandatory for certain agreements, such as deeds, mortgages, easements, powers of attorney and living wills.
How does a Notary Public identify a Signatory?
Generally, the Notary will ask to see a current identification document or card with a photograph, physical description and signature. A driver’s license, military ID or passport will usually be acceptable.
Is Notarization a Legal Requirement?
For most documents, yes. Certain affidavits, deeds and powers of attorney may not be legally binding unless they are properly notarized.
With other documents, no. Private entities and individuals may require notarization to strengthen the document and to protect it from fraud.
Does Notarization Make a Document “True” or “Legal”?
No. A notarization typically means the signatory acknowledged to the Notary that he or she signed the document or vouched under oath or affirmation that the contents of the document were true.
Can a Notary Public give Legal Advice or Prepare Legal Documents?
No. A Notary is forbidden from preparing legal documents or acting as a legal advisor unless he or she has been retained as lawyer. Violators can be prosecuted for the unauthorized practice of law, so a Notary cannot answer your legal questions or provide advice about your particular document.
Can a Notary Refuse to Serve People?
Only if the Notary is uncertain of a signer’s identity, willingness, mental awareness, or has cause to suspect fraud. Notaries may not refuse service on the basis of race, religion, nationality, lifestyle, sexual orientation or any other prohibited ground or because the person is not their client or customer.
Where can I report unethical or unprofessional Notaries?
Any wrongdoing or illegal activity should be reported to law enforcement and the appropriate Notary-regulating Provincial official (typically the Governor, Lieutenant Governor or Attorney General).