A Notarized Document is a document that is officially certified by a notary public as authentic, and therefore, the information contained in it can be trusted.
Notarization deters fraud by requiring a document to be witnessed during the signing.
How does Notarization Work
Document notarization should take place in a registered and legitimate notary public. First, the document is presented and signed before a notary public (person authorized by the state to certify the authenticity of a document). This ensures that the notary public can verify the individual who signed the document. The notary public should then officially stamp, date, and sign the document to indicate that they have witnessed the signing.
The notary public is legally required to ask for Competent Evidence of Identification by requesting an individual to present their driving license, passport, or any government-issued ID to avoid issues that may arise from identity theft. The notary public should also ensure that the individuals involved in the signing process understand the document and it is signed deliberately to avoid claims such as ignorance, coercion, etc.
Do You Know?
A notary public is not required to review the document and provide legal advice on the problems associated with signing it. Signing parties must ensure they follow due diligence by reading and understanding the contents of the document before notarization or ensure the help of an attorney to provide clarity.
Signing parties should also be aware that depending on the situation or local law, documents may or may not be official upon notarization. An attorney can enlighten the signing parties on whether a valid signature is all it takes to execute the document.
Type of Documents that Usually Get Notarized
Different types of documents require notarization to be considered as self-authenticated. These documents often deal with different matters such as financial, legal, medical issues, etc.
The most common notarized documents include the following:
- Power of attorney
- Deeds of trust
- Sworn statements
- Rental agreements
- Copy certification
- Wills and trusts
- Advanced Directives
- Handgun permits
- Rental agreements
- Motor vehicle bills of sale, etc.
Types of Notarizations
There are different types of notarizations that a notary public can perform to ensure document notarization. These types of notarizations can be used depending on the type of document notarization required by an individual.
Sign witnessing is a type of notarization that involves the notary to attest to the signing of a document with the individual presenting the document required to provide the notary public with sufficient identification before signing. This enables the notary to verify that the person is who they say they are as they witness them sign the document.
Acknowledgment is a type of notarization where the signer declares to a notary public that he/she has signed the document. The signer may either sign the document in the presence of the notary public or outside the notary. In either case, the signer is required to be physically present to verbally declare/acknowledge that he/she has signed the document. However, it is important to note that the signer acknowledges his/her signature and not the contents of the document.
Copy certification is a type of notarization that requires the document custodian to present the original document to the notary who makes a copy of it. The notary will be required to verify the identity of the document custodian, make copies and fill out a copy certification form. The notary will then officially stamp the copy to certify that it is a true duplicate of the primary document. Documents such as degrees or transcripts, passports, driving license and birth, death or marriage certificates use this type of notarization.
Jurat type of notarization requires document custodians to present their document and identification before a notary public for verification. Once verified, document custodians must swear under oath in the presence of a notary public that the contents of a document are accurate to the best of their knowledge. Jurat type of notarization can be used in affidavits, depositions, and other types of evidentiary documents. If the information contained in these documents is found to be fraudulent, the document custodian can face litigation for presenting falsified information for verification.
Importance of a Notary
A notary plays an essential role in preventing any document fraud or identity theft. Therefore, individuals must have the signing of their documents witnessed by a notary public. If they have already signed the document, they can present an unsigned copy to have it witnessed by a notary public. The signatures of the original document and that of the copy should match for the original to be notarized.
A notary also helps protect individuals from exploitation by ensuring that they know the document’s contents and that they have signed it intentionally. In addition, this helps avoid litigation by ensuring that the proper process of document notarization is followed.
What the Job/Duty of a Notary is
The duties undertaken by a notary must be conducted within the confines of the state and federal laws. Proper document notarization should be conducted appropriately by ensuring the performance of the notary public’s duties.
The following are the duties or jobs that a notary should undertake during document notarization:
Identity verification is critical because it ensures that real people are involved in the process. Signing parties are required to present their identification documents which should be recorded in detail by the notary. This helps prevent the parties involved from committing fraud as they can prove they are who they say. It also helps ensure that the signing of a document is not done on anyone’s behalf without their authorization.
A notary has to ensure that the signers of a document are not under undue influence, threats or coercion. Documents signed under coercion or threats cannot be considered legitimate, making it impossible for a notary to authenticate them. It is, however, important to note that dislike of the contents of a document by the signer does not necessarily mean coercion or threats have been used; it may simply mean that the signer is not thrilled about the compromises they have had to make to guarantee an agreement which is made.
Capable of sound decisions
A notary is also tasked with identifying if the signing party is mentally aware and can understand what is included in the document. The signing party’s awareness can be considered compromised if they suffer from confusion, dementia, Alzheimer’s, etc. A notary public can identify if the signing party can make sound decisions by asking them unrelated questions concerning notarization. If the person is visually impaired, then the notary public should have the document read to the signing party to ensure that due diligence is followed.
How to Get a Document Notarized (Step-by-Step Guide)
The process of getting a document notarized can be time-consuming and expensive if not done right. It is, therefore, important that individuals intending to notarize their documents follow appropriate steps to ensure that this process is smooth and swift.
The following is a guide that can ensure an easy document notarization process:
Phase 1: Prepare the document
The first step to notaries a document is to have it prepared for the process. Preparing the document for notarization helps avoid inconveniences, saves time and money for the signing parties. Therefore, individuals should ensure the following when preparing the document:
Fill out the document and leave the signatures blank
A person intending to notarize their document should start by filling out the necessary information requested and leaving the signature section blank. Therefore, signing parties can fill in information which may include their names, the location of the property bought or sold, etc. This is to ensure that signing parties have time to verify the information filled in the document to avoid being susceptible to fraud.
Hire a lawyer to review the documents
Signing parties can solicit the assistance of a lawyer who will review the contents of the document and make any necessary changes prior to notarization. The lawyer ensures that the document complies with the federal and state laws, especially if legally binding. A lawyer also ensures that the rights of a signing party are protected, and there is no room for error or loopholes. The document can be reviewed by a lawyer at any time however it will require to be notarization again to incorporate changes made, that is if it had already been notarized. A signing party can choose to undertake the review of the document without the assistance of a lawyer however he/she will be responsible for ensuring that it complies with the legal requirements.
Print the copy of the document
Document notarization only takes place with documents provided by signing parties. A notary public is only authorized to authenticate original documents; as such, a signing party should make copies of the document in need of notarization.
Provide the copy to all who must sign it
All individuals required to sign the document should have a copy. They require the copy for further examination and interpretation by their attorney or to identify areas that should be changed before the document can be notarized.
It should have a space for notary sign and seal
A notarized document should contain a notary public’s signature, stamp, and date. Therefore, signing parties should ensure that the document has a space designated for notarization at the end of the document. If the document does not have this space, then notarization cannot take place and the document will be considered unofficial.
Phase 2: Finding a notary
Once the document is ready to be notarized, a notary should be found to ensure that the process can begin. The process of finding a notary can help ensure that the chosen notary public has adequate experience and qualifications to deal with matters about the document. There are several ways an individual can find a notary public such as to search online for a local notary, inquiry into financial institutions that have a notary, request to use the local town or city hall notary, visit a local courthouse, consultation of a lawyer or real estate officer who offers notary services or use of a mobile notary who will come to the signing party for a fee.
Phase 3: Getting the document notarized
Finally, with a notary selected, an individual can begin the process of having the document notarized. Again, adherence can ensure a quick and easy process.
The following procedures should help an individual obtain a notarized document:
Arrange a time and place to visit the notary
An individual must first consult all the signing parties to identify a convenient time for the notary public. Then, an appointment to visit the notary public must be made to ensure that the notary public will be present and that the signing parties know when and where to go.
Bring official identification
Secondly, signing parties must bring their state-issued identification document for verification to prove who they are. The document must be current to avoid fraud. Some states may require an individual to provide two official identification documents, an ID and a birth certificate.
Show up at the agreed location
Thirdly all signing parties should show up at the agreed location. Any party that does not show up can prevent the documents form from being notarized, as all signatories must be present for the process to be legitimate.
Sign/date the document
Once all the parties arrive, signing the document before the notary public can take place. It is also important to consider that the signing parties can raise their questions about the document notarization process to ensure that they understand what is happening.
Have the notary stamp
Then, the notary public will stamp the document to indicate that they have witnessed the process. This part of the process depends on the number of copies that require notarization and the amount of time required to do it.
Sign the notary’s journal if required
Next, a notary certificate or journal may be signed as required in some states for record-keeping. It also provides evidence of official actions by a notary and how the process of notarization and identification of the signing parties took place.
Pay the fees
Finally, payment should be made if required; this can be done during the signing or via e-transfer when making an appointment. The money paid to the notary is used to finance its operations and ensure that everything runs smoothly the next time an individual requires the service.
Where to Get Documents Notarized
There are many ways to get a document notarized. An individual can select a notary based on the type of document and their immediate needs. However, identifying an appropriate place for a document to be notarized can help speed up the authentication process.
The following are places where documents can get notarized:
Some banks and credit unions offer notarization services to their customers for free. However, individuals that are non-customers can use the services for a fee. Bank policies dictate whether or not a notary public working during their hours can refuse notarization for a non-customer.
Businesses are often engaged in transactions and forming agreements; as such, some have a notary to speed up the authentication process of their documents. Some businesses do offer this service to private citizens for a fee. Businesses that may offer document notarization services include shipping stores, Check cashier and money transfer stores, car dealers, office supply retailers, neighborhood convenience stores and tax preparers and law offices, etc.
Some individuals operate notaries in their homes or simply as a business. Such people charge a fee for the service. Witnessing a document by individual sources can be convenient for some signing parties as these individuals can be mobile and, therefore, meet them at a place of their liking.
Document notarization can take place online. However, this is only possible when a form is considered an electronic document. All states in the US have legalized online notarization however entities still reserve the right to decide if it is an acceptable practice for their documents. It is the responsibility of the signing party to discern if his/her document requires in-person notarization.
If an individual is making a real-estate transition, then he /she will have to appear in person before a notary for notarization to take place.
However, if the signing party is engaging in a quick transaction that is time-sensitive or requires notarization of a less formal letter then he/she should consider using an online notary. This is because online notaries do speedy transactions.
The signing party will be required to verify his/her identity for the signature to be recorded via E-sign or video, signing parties should ensure that the online notary has attended training sessions and passed necessary examinations that are equivalent to an in-person notary. However, this is dependent on the state as each has its own requirements.
Following are some free downloadable templates for you:
Document templates by type
- Document notarization is important because it helps deter fraud by authenticating documents. The notary public is responsible for verifying the legitimacy of all signatures and witnessing the process.
- The primary duties of a notary are to identify verification and ensure that the signer is willing and capable of making sound decisions. This helps ensure that the process of document notarization is legitimately carried out with all parties involved on board.
- During document notarization, signing parties must present their identification information to help verify that they are who they say. This helps prevent issues arising from identity theft.
- Depending on where one chooses to notarize their documents, there are likely to be of cost. However, the fees charged are used to finance notary service operations; therefore, such charges are not illegal.