Explore Local Options To Find Affordable Notary Services
There are many instances where you are required to list a witness when you sign important documents. In some cases, you are allowed to choose who acts as your witness, but there are many documents where you must have an official witness present.
A notary acts as an official witness. Notaries are publicly commissioned officials, meaning they must follow a strict set of rules. This ensures your notary does not have any personal bias, and also establishes they are a trustworthy individual who can vouch for the authenticity of your document.
The rules a notary must follow are set by the National Notary Association (NNA). Some notaries run their own businesses, while others partner with an existing agency. More information about finding a notary and when to use their services are covered below.
Notaries perform many important tasks. The first responsibility of a notary is ensuring the identity of anyone who is signing an important document. When you bring your document to be notarized, you must present several pieces of identification. The exact requirements may vary depending on the document.
The notary ensures all the information is presented, creating an official record you can use as proof if any party ever tries to argue the legitimacy of your documents. The notary also confirms that you willingly signed the documents and were not being intimidated or otherwise forced into an unfavorable agreement. In certain situations, your notary makes you swear an oath to further confirm the information listed in the document is accurate.
Notaries are required to only act in cases where they are impartial. If you have a personal relationship with a notary, he or she is duty-bound to recommend a different notary. This is one of the few situations where a notary can decline service.
Finally, notaries are responsible for ensuring the authenticity of the documents. Many criminals try to commit fraud by creating false documents. Notaries are trained to look for certain identifying factors, which are only found on authentic documents. If a personal contract is being drafted, the notary ensures the document is legitimate. They also create a written record of when the contract was signed, preventing one of the parties from altering the contract at a later date, insisting the changes were part of the agreed upon deal.
When a Notary is Necessary
There are three categories of documents where you typically require a notary present. The first group is known as acknowledgements. Acknowledgement documents refers to any document or contract relating to the ownership of value assets. In many cases, the item has a physical value, such as a property deed, but it also applies to wills and granting power of attorney. With these documents, you are required to appear in person and present proof of your identification to the notary.
The next category is jurat. Jurat documents are evidentiary documents commonly associated with civil and criminal courts. Some examples of jurat documents are court depositions, affidavits and certain testimony. In addition to showing up in person to sign the documents, you must also swear an oath that everything contained in the documents is true and has not been altered.
The last category of documents is certified copies. Certified copies are necessary whenever you need to copy a unique document. The copied document only acts as proof the unique documents exist. It cannot take the place of the original document. Certified copies are commonly used for birth certificates, passports and college degrees. Certain businesses also get certified copies, typically to use as references after the official documents are submitted to another source.
In 2020, visiting a notary has become much harder due to Covid-19. In response, there has been an increase in the number of mobile notary services. A mobile notary travels to a location to notarize documents. There is normally an extra charge associated with hiring a mobile notary. Otherwise, the process is the same, and all mobile notaries are required to get the same certifications as a traditional notary.
In addition to mobile notaries, there are also some online services where you can remotely get documents notarized. As of writing, these services are only available in 24 states, though other states allow you to temporarily get documents notarized online until you can see the notary in person.
Finding a Notary
Notaries operate out of many different locations. Some notaries run independent businesses. These independent notaries are more likely to offer mobile services. Many notaries partner with other businesses, especially ones where a notary is normally required. This includes banks, law firms, accountant offices or real estate firms. Many shipping stores also partner with notaries. You may be able to find notaries at colleges. Some notaries work out of state buildings as well, such as a town hall or a library. If you are unsure where to find a notary, you can search for one online.