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What Does a Notary Do?


A notary, also known as a notary public, has an essential role in legal transactions and business deals as a public officer. Notaries are authorized by the state or local government to perform specific functions related to document authentication, witnessing signatures, and administering oaths.

The primary role of a notary is to verify the identity of the person in front of them who is signing a document and to ensure that the person is signing the document voluntarily, not under duress, and with full knowledge of the document’s content. Documents are notarized to prevent fraud, forgery, and other illegal activities related to document signing.

A licensed notary can also administer oaths and affirmations, formal statements made under penalty of perjury. Oaths and affirmations are essential in legal proceedings such as court cases, depositions, and affidavits.

Another critical function of a notary is to certify copies of documents. To certify a copy of a document, the notary compares the original and a copy of a document and verifies that a copy of a document is a true and accurate representation of the original document.

Notaries play a crucial role in estate planning transactions. Estate planning requires signing numerous legal documents your family will use after your incapacity or death. In both circumstances, you will not be available to verify that you signed the papers. A notarization of your estate planning documents will assist in proving that it was not only you that signed but that you were not under duress when you signed.

To become a notary, an individual must meet specific qualifications set by the State or local government. Typically, this involves completing a training course, passing an exam, and obtaining a license or commission from the State. Notaries must also follow specific rules and regulations related to their duties, including maintaining a record of all notarial acts performed.

Some states allow for remote notarization of documents, which means you can have the document notarized through online software and a video camera. Only some states allow this type of notarization, and the notary will have to follow specific requirements of their State to become certified in remote notarization.

Overall, notaries serve an important function in legal and business transactions by providing a trusted and impartial witness to the signing of important documents. Having a notary verify the identity of individuals and ensure that records are signed legally and voluntarily helps prevent fraud and other illegal activities related to document signing.

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