What is a notary public and what do they do?
A Notary Public is a person who was given authority by the government to be a witness in relation to signing documents. Sometimes, you need to have a document notarized, or signed, by a person whose credibility was validated by your government.
Typically, a notary public is required to make a document official. Examples of these are affidavits, deed of sale, contracts, oath, last will and testament, and so much more.
Why do you need a notary public?
A notary public basically fulfills several things:
- Witness the signing of documents – it is the duty of the notary public to see that the parties involved are signing the documents and that the signatures were not forged.
- Ensure that the parties were willing to sign the documents – the notary public must ensure that the people signing the contract are not doing so under duress or threats.
- Ensure that the parties are aware of what they are signing – the notary public also has to ensure the people signing a contract understand what they are getting themselves into and that they understand the content of the contract.
- Verify the identity of the parties – the notary public has to secure copies of proof of identities of the people signing a document or making an affidavit.
- Fraud deterrence – without a notary public, some people will produce fake documents that the person may not be aware of.
An example is a fraudulent deed of sale, with one person claiming ownership of the land or a car, and then selling it to another person, who now becomes a victim of buying stolen property.
Are there different types of a notary public?
Yes, there are two types of a notary public. One is a common-law notary. The other is a civil-law notary.
The common-law notary is someone appointed by the government to sign or notarize documents. They applied to the government to get a license, and then they are empowered to provide notary public service.
However, this person is not a lawyer. As such, he or she is not qualified to provide legal advice. All they can do is to provide the service within the capacities given to him by the government.
On the other hand, a civil-law notary is a lawyer, and they can provide legal advice should there be some errors on the document, or if there are possible unwanted consequences that can stem from the documents.
What services can you expect from a notary public?
As mentioned earlier, the main duty of the notary public is to prevent fraud. This in itself covers a wide range of services.
Here are a few specific situations when you will need a notary public’s services.
- Take Affidavits – sometimes, the court or government departments require you to submit an affidavit or an oath that the statement you are making are true to the best of your knowledge.
An example is if you lost a government-issued ID, or if you are bearing witness to a crime and you are providing your statement.
In this case, the notary public is signing your statement to ensure that you did it willingly and that you were not coerced.
A notary public, however, cannot ensure if the statement you made is true or false. If you said that you witnessed a person commit burglary, there is no way that the notary public will know whether it is true or not.
What he does is to ensure that your statement is documented and that you willingly provided the statement.
- Sign Deeds – when a sale is made, there must be a deed of sale stipulating the amount of the transaction, what was sold, and who are the parties involved like the buyer and the seller.
To prevent fraud, the notary public has to ensure that both parties willingly made the transaction happen, that there was no force or coercion, and that both parties agree to the terms written on the deed of sale.
This prevents people from making claims later on that they are victims of fraud.
If you sold a car to someone, there has to be a third-party involved who will bear witness that you and the buyer agreed to the terms. This third-party must be appointed by the government and must be someone who has no interest in your transaction.
What this means is that he will not gain anything from it. And this is why a notary public is the one that should seal the deal, that the transaction is legal, and that no party was violated in any form.
How can I find a notary public?
There are two ways to have your documents signed:
The first one is through the conventional way where you go to a notary public’s office or have a notary go to you (mobile notary). This is a physical location where your physical presence is required.
The other way is to have your document signed digitally. This is an online method to have your documents notarized.
If you prefer to do it online, you need to sign up for an account for this service. You have to ask the online notary public if your state is within his jurisdiction and coverage.
Some will ask you to download the app. And then you can start the process.
To do this, you need to upload your UNSIGNED document, and it will be reviewed. Then, you need to follow the instructions for filling up online forms, submitting your identification documents, and then you just need to wait around 48 hours before you can download your notarized PDF document. You need to print this and use it as you would with any notarized document.
A notary public is crucial to make your document valid. Always have a notary public sign your deed of sale or your affidavit or oaths or other documentation to make it official and recognized by the government.
This will prevent you from dealing with unwanted problems later on.
If you have no time to go to an office, then your best course of action is to find a mobile notary who can come to you! A quick google search to find a notary near me can point out those in your area.