Notarizing Documents: Frequently Asked Questions!

Last updated on July 17, 2023 / By 

The process of notarizing documents can seem daunting, particularly if you’re not familiar with it. Here, we’ll answer some frequently asked questions about notarizing documents, aiming to provide a clear understanding of what it involves and how to proceed.

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What Is Notarization?

Notarization is an official fraud-deterrent process that certifies the authenticity of documents. This process ensures that the signing parties are who they claim to be and understand the documents they’re signing.

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Why Do Documents Need to Be Notarized?

Documents are notarized to prevent fraudulent activities and to assure the parties involved that the document is authentic and legally enforceable. Notarization adds an extra level of security, guaranteeing that the signer of the document is indeed the person they claim to be.

What Is a Notary Public?

A notary public is a person appointed by a state government to serve as an impartial witness during the signing of important documents. Notaries deter fraud and establish that the signer knows what document they’re signing, and they’re doing so willingly and under their own free will.

How Do I Get a Document Notarized?

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to get a document notarized:

  1. Find a Notary Public: The first step in getting a document notarized is to find a notary public. Banks, law firms, and courthouses usually provide notarial services. You can also find notaries in private businesses such as shipping companies or office supply stores.
  2. Prepare the Document: Make sure the document is completely filled out, leaving no blanks other than where you’ll sign. The notary public will not be able to notarize your document if it’s incomplete.
  3. Gather Proper Identification: Bring a valid identification card with your photograph and signature. This could be a driver’s license, military ID, or passport.
  4. Appear Before the Notary: You must personally appear before the notary with the document and identification. The notary will verify your identity and ensure you understand the document and are signing it willingly.
  5. Sign the Document: Once the notary public is satisfied, you will sign the document in their presence. The notary will then sign the document, emboss it with a seal or stamp, and complete a notarial certificate that includes the date, their signature and seal, and other information required by state law.

Can I Notarize a Document for a Family Member?

Most states in the U.S. discourage or prohibit notarizing documents for close family members (such as spouses, parents, children, and siblings) due to the potential conflict of interest and lack of impartiality.

Can I Notarize My Own Documents?

No, you cannot notarize your own documents. Notaries are prohibited from notarizing their own signatures or documents in which they have a personal interest.

Can a Notary Refuse to Notarize a Document?

Yes, a notary can refuse to notarize a document if they suspect fraud, if the signer does not appear to understand the document, if the signer cannot be properly identified, or if the document is incomplete.

Can Documents be Notarized Online?

As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, several states in the U.S. had enacted laws allowing online notarization, and due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many other states temporarily permitted it. However, laws and regulations can vary, so it’s essential to check the current rules in your state.

What Should I Do With a Notarized Document?

Once your document is notarized, it’s considered legally enforceable. You should follow the instructions given to you regarding the next steps, such as submitting the document to the appropriate party or filing it with a government agency.

In conclusion, the process of notarizing documents is a crucial step in ensuring their authenticity and legality. It’s always wise to seek the help of a qualified notary public to assist you with this process. If you have any other questions regarding the notarization process, don’t hesitate to consult with a legal professional to ensure you’re complying with all relevant laws and regulations.