A notary public is a public official appointed by the state to certify the authenticity of signatures and copies of documents, to administer oaths and affirmations, and to perform other such acts as are allowed or required by law. This official serves the public as an impartial witness.
Since notary public’s are administered by his/her state, the procedures and requirements for becoming a notary public is different in other states. In most cases, an individual submits an application to be reviewed by the Secretary of State. In some states, an exam is required.
Applicants who are approved by the state are sworn in as notaries public to serve for a specified period of time. A notary public does not have the authority to carry out his duties in any state but that in which he was appointed.
Because a notary is a public official, he or she is obligated to serve all persons who request lawful notarial acts during normal business hours. A notary is not commissioned for the personal convenience of any one employer. Basically, the most important reason for notarizing anything is to protect against fraud.
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The signer must be in the physical presence of the notary before the notary may lawfully notarize. This rule of law is not discretionary. The notary certifies that a signature is made willingly and freely by determining the signer’s state of mind and intent. This is accomplished by talking to every signer, asking key questions, and being aware of pressure by anyone else. The notary should refuse to notarize signatures made under coercion, duress, or undue influence.
Never take the acknowledgment of a person who does not speak the English language unless the nature and effect of the instrument to be notarized is translated into a language which the person does speak.
Use a photo I.D. or a credible witness if necessary to establish the signer’s identity.
When notarizing a signature made by a mark, use a witness familiar with the signer. The witness should write the marker’s name by the mark. The witness should sign the notary journal and the notary should make a special note.
If there are multiple signatures on a document, and only some of the signers appear before the notary, the notary should indicate exactly whose signature was witnessed. Sometimes a notarial certificate will be provided for each signature, if not, the notary should amend the notarial certificate to show only the signature of the person who appeared. However, the notary should not alter the document above the notarial certificate other than to cross through blank lines. Alterations should be initiated and dated.
If a notary is asked to certify that a copy is a correct copy, the person presenting it should sign a sworn statement that he/she made the copy and that it is true and correct. Then the signature on the sworn statement may be notarized in the usual way.
There are three preferred ways to verify a signer’s identity:
The safest and best way to verify a signer’s identity is by personal knowledge. This kind of verification does not require witnesses or identification documents.
The second way to verify a signer’s identity is through confirmation by a credible witness. The credible witness must have a reputation for integrity, understand the transaction and be impartial in the transaction. It is important to maintain an unbroken chain of personal knowledge. The notary must personally know the witness. The credible witness must personally know the document signer. The notary, the credible witness, and the document signer must all be present when notarization occurs. The notary places the credible witness under oath before the document is signed.
The third way to verify a signer’s identity is through valid identification documents. The notary should take reasonable care in examining I.D. cards or papers. There are three features of the I.D. card or papers that should be considered:
There are three ways identification can be falsified:
Jurats are the authentication of a signature made under oath or affirmation. The signer must personally appear before the notary and be identified by the notary as previously discussed. The notary must place the signer under oath and then watch the signature being written.
A Mortgage Notary Signing Agent is a Notary Public who specializes in the process of obtaining and notarizing the signatures of the party(ies) involved on real estate loan documents for the purpose of closing a real estate loan transaction. Lenders who offer correspondent loans across the country rely heavily on competent Mortgage Notary Signing Agents to complete the signing and notarizing portions of the real estate loan transaction in a professional, reliable and accurate manner.