A notary is a government-appointed person who acts as an unbiased witness to the signing of legal documents. Real estate deeds, affidavits, wills, trusts, and powers of attorney are all examples of documents that may require the services of a notary. The key purpose of a notary is to prevent fraud.
A notary’s primary responsibilities include validating a person’s signature (to sign a document); administering oaths and affirmations; taking affidavits and statutory declarations, including from witnesses; authenticating the execution of certain types of documents; and taking acknowledgments (for example, of deeds and other documents).
A Notary Public is a state official of integrity authorized by the secretary of state to serve the public as an unbiased witness in various official fraud-deterrent activities relating to the signing of vital documents. Notarizations, or notarial acts, are the official acts in question. Notaries are commissioned as “ministerial” officials by the public, which means they are expected to follow written rules without using significant personal judgment, as a “judicial” official might.
The Notary’s role is to verify the identities of signers of crucial papers, their desire to sign without pressure or intimidation, and their understanding of the document’s or transaction’s contents. Some notarizations additionally require the Notary to place the signer under oath, proclaiming that the information included in the document is genuine and correct under penalty of perjury. Notaries are frequently required for documents such as property deeds, wills, and powers of attorney.
The public faith in the Notary is built on impartiality. They have a moral obligation not to act in situations in which they have a personal stake. The public has faith that the Notary’s screening responsibilities are not tainted by self-interest. A Notary must never refuse to serve someone because of their race, nationality, religion, politics, sexual orientation, or status as a non-customer.
Notaries Public confirm the proper execution of many of the life-changing documents of private citizens, whether such transactions convey real estate, provide powers of attorney, establish a prenuptial agreement, or conduct the number of other acts that allow our civil society to work.
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