Notary: A Public Official
A notary or a notary public is a state government-appointed person who is assigned to serve as an impartial witness for the signing of any of the legal documents. The document may include mortgage deeds, affidavits, trusts, will, power of attorney, etc. Although the duties of a notary may vary from state to state however the notary has no right to refuse any legal document on the basis of caste, religion, sex, or even nationality.
Requirements for a notary:
The requirement, powers, qualification, and duties for notary vary from state to state, still, there are some common eligibilities required:
- The person to become a notary should be at least 18 years of age.
- The person should reside in the state.
- The person should have a clear background as most of the states don’t appoint a person as a notary who has a criminal case or went to jail for any reason.
Notarization of a document:
A notary is used in the states to monitor any of the fraud going on and thus when he signs a legal document it becomes valid. Before witnessing any document and making it notarized he has to check for the following:
1. Presence of the Signer: For a document to be notarized it is essential that the signer should be physically present before the notary. This helps the notary to verify the signature and thus protect the notary from any kind of fraud.
2. Cross-checking of the document: Before notarizing a document the notary should check the documents carefully so that he may ensure that the document has all the elements of a Notary certificate, thereby meeting the requirements of his state.
Cross-checking of the documents also ensures him that there may not be any blank spaces as most of the states recommend that there should not be any blank spaces as they may later be altered for any kind of fraud.
Checking for the documents will help him to verify for the name on the ID and the name on the document are the same and he has entered the date on which the notarization is being done.
3. Identification of the signer: It is a very important step for a document to get notarized, it varies from state to state how they verify the signer or the person mentioned in the document. Well, there are three common methods for the identification of sooner:
- Personal Knowledge: that means that the notary knows the signer personally. Some states like California do not allow this means of verification.
- Identity documents: Photo ID proofs are the common method for the identification and verification of the signer. Any of the government-issued cards can be used for identification like the driver’s licenses, passports, etc.
- A Credible identifying witness: A person who know the signer and can affirm or verify the signer’s identity.
4. Make Journal Entry: The notary should make a journal entry that is he should make all the essential details of the notarization so that whenever needed it can help especially when there is any doubt on the notarization.
The Journal entry in many states may include the date and time of the notarization, the details of the document for which notarization is performed, the signer’s name, address, and signature, method of verification of signers, the fee charged.
5. Completion of the Notarial Certificate: When the certificate is complete with all the important information like the correct venue of the notarization, time is correct, etc. Then at last the notary can sign the certificate and affix his seal at the proper place. Both the sign and the seal should be together but the seal should not overlap any of the alphabets of the signature.
In brief, a notary can be defined as a public official appointed by the state government to make a legal document valid and he verifies the document impartially to prevent any case of fraud. Depending on the state his duties and powers are assigned. The signature and the seal of the notary are the most essential to attest the document.
However, the notary has to be very careful while witnessing any document, before signing any document he/she should check for the entries to be correct like the date, time, signature of the signer, ID proofs, etc as these can later be used for any kind of inquiry.
He has the power to reject attesting any document if he thinks it is invalid or is a fraud. But the notary doesn’t have any of the powers to reject attesting any of the documents on the basis of caste, class, religion, gender, or nationality.