What is a Notary Public? A Notary Public is a public official appointed by the Secretary of State to be an impartial witness in the signing of important documents and to administer oaths and affirmations. A Notary Public may not give legal advice, draft legal documents nor accept fees for legal advice. A Notary may not even advise a client as to the type of notarization a document requires. The correct notarial wording must be provided by the creator of the document to be notarized.
What is a Certified Loan Signing Agent? A Certified Loan Signing Agent is a Notary Public with experience in conducting real estate or mortgage loan signings. A Certified Signing Agent has passed an examination administered by an industry-recognized entity such as the National Notary Association. However, there are no federal, state, or local statutes that designate what "certification" requires or means. Notaries go through the certification process voluntarily to demonstrate their knowledge and professionalism.
Why do documents require notarization? Notarization creates a public record, and helps prevent fraud. Before notarizing a document, the Notary Public will verify the identity of the signer(s) of a document, who a) personally appeared before the Notary on the date and in the County indicated, and b) acknowledged signing (or executing) the document.
Notaries may also certify that a signer, whose identity has been verified by satisfactory evidence, has voluntarily signed and sworn an oath or affirmation that the signed document is complete and truthful.
The Notary must establish that each signer is aware of and understands what he or she is signing and is doing so willingly.
What types of documents are notarized? Many types of documents can be notarized. Notaries commonly perform three types of notarial acts: Acknowledgments, Jurats, Oaths or Affirmations, and Copy Certifications.
The purpose of an Acknowledgement is the positive identification of the document signer to ensure that the document has, in fact, been signed by that particular person.
A Jurat is used to verify the identity of the signer(s) and to compel truthfulness by the document signer. The Notary will ask the signer(s) to swear under oath or affirmation that a statement made in the document is true.
Copy Certifications confirm that a particular document is a true copy of the original. However, a Notary may not advise a client what type of notarization a document requires. The correct notarial wording must be provided by the creator of the document to be notarized.
What type of Identification will I need to show the Notary? The most common form of Identification (ID) is a photo ID that is current or issued within the last five years, such as a Driver's License, Passport, or ID issued by the United States government, a state Correctional Facility, or tribal government that contains an identifying number, the individual's photograph, signature and a written physical description, including height, weight, and color of both hair and eyes.
Without such a photo ID, satisfactory Evidence of Identity requires either the oath or affirmation of a Credible Witness, who personally knows both the Signer and the Notary Public; or the oath or affirmation of two Credible Witnesses, who personally know only the Signer.
Who can be a Credible Witness? If a signer doesn't have a current ID, a Credible Witness is someone who can provide the proper Identification, and is willing to swear or affirm that:
The individual appearing before the Notary Public as the signer of the document is the person named in the document; and
The Credible Witness personally knows the Signer; and
The Credible Witness reasonably believes that the circumstances of the Signer are such that it would be very difficult or impossible for the Signer to obtain another form of identification; and
The Signer does not possess any of the identification documents authorized by law to establish the Signer’s identity; and
The Credible Witness does not have a financial interest and is not named in the document(s) to be signed.
Only one Credible Witness is necessary when the Witness personally knows both the Signer and the Notary. Two Credible Witnesses are required if neither personally know the Notary Public certifying the document
What if my Name on the document doesn't exactly match my Identification? The wording on an Identification card must match the name used in the document. A rule of thumb is "less, but never more." For example, if the Identification reads "John Q. Public" the document, signature and notarial journal may read: John Q. Public, John Public, J. Public, or J.Q. Public. However, it may not read: John Quincy Public.
What if I can't sign my name? If someone is unable to sign his or her name, the signer may use an "X" or other mark as a valid signature when two witnesses watch him or her make the mark. If the signer has a valid ID, the witnesses are not required to show ID or sign the notarial Journal; however, if the signer does not have a valid ID, the two witnesses must meet the requirements for a Credible Witness (provide proper ID, have no personal benefit, and sign the Notary's Journal).
Do I always need a thumbprint? Some documents require a thumbprint as part of the entry in the Notary's Journal, such as Deeds of Trust, Quitclaim Deeds, Powers of Attorney, or any document affecting real property. Many notaries offer the option of supplying a thumbprint as an additional proof that the signer actually appeared before the notary; it also helps deter identity theft.
Can a Notary refuse to notarize my document? A Notary Public may not notarize any document that he or she knows to be incomplete or is without a doubt false. In all notarizations, the document signer must be acting of his or her own free will and must be able to communicate that he or she understands what is being signed. An interpreter can never be used to communicate between the signer and the Notary Public.
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