Notarization is required for various legal documents such as powers of attorney, deeds, wills, trusts, advanced healthcare directives, and handgun permits. To prevent fraud, notaries must verify the identity of those signing these documents.
Typically, this involves examining an ID card or papers that contain the signer’s photograph, physical description, and signature. Alternatively, notaries may rely on the testimony of a credible witness.
Authentication of Documents
Legal documents such as contracts, property deeds, loan papers, powers of attorney, and affidavits may need notarized to authenticate the signatures and weed out impostors. Notaries also use subjective judgment to verify that the participants are of sound mind and are signing the document freely without coercion.
In addition, Notaries use a credible witness to verify on oath or affirmation that the document signer is who they say they are. This witness must be someone that the notary public has personal knowledge of or who can be identified through satisfactory evidence such as an acceptable form of identification.
Notaries must also ensure they notarize valid documents and comply with state laws governing such transactions. In addition, if a document is to be used in a foreign country, the notary must obtain an official certificate of authenticity (or an apostille) from the appropriate government department. This final step is necessary to ensure that the notary’s work meets international standards for verification.
Some states require notary public Hamtramck MI, to verify the identity of document signers, including the notary’s identification. Some notaries may also need to place and apply a special seal to the document as proof of identity, known as an authentication or apostille. (In some cases, this will be necessary for documents to be used in foreign countries).
Notaries must follow strict guidelines regarding what types of ID they can accept for verification purposes. Social security cards, library cards, credit cards, and temporary driver’s licenses are generally unacceptable. To learn more about the rules for ID verification, notaries should check with their state’s laws or visit the NNA’s Notary Essentials eLearning course for information specific to their jurisdiction.
Some documents that require notarization are highly sensitive or of high value, and proper identity verification can help prevent fraud or financial loss. In addition, Notaries can help ensure that vulnerable individuals like older people or people with disabilities are not coerced into agreements against their will.
Taking Oaths and Affirmations
Legal documents such as contracts, deeds, loan papers, powers of attorney, and affidavits often require a signer to take an oath or affirmation. A notary is responsible for administering the oath or affirmation and assessing whether the signer is of sound mind and signing freely and willingly without any signs of coercion.
Taking an oath involves swearing to a higher power, usually God, that the statements in the document are factual. Some people have religious convictions against taking an oath and may choose to make an affirmation instead, which is a promise made on one’s conscience and does not reference a higher power.
It is also the notary’s responsibility to ask questions and evaluate the signer’s body language for any indications of dishonesty. The notary must keep a journal of all of these transactions and follow the guidelines dictated by state law. This journal will be a crucial piece of evidence in case the signed document is ever challenged.
Many states require Notaries to witness documents. In this role, Notaries verify that the signer of a document is alert and appears to understand the contents of the document being signed. Seeing is a way to ensure that the signer was not coerced or intoxicated into signing, and it provides a level of trust that the signature on the document is genuine.
Some states allow Notaries to verify a signer’s identity by relying on the testimony of a “credible witness.” This usually requires that a friend or acquaintance testify under oath about their knowledge of the person. The notary will also typically review the signer’s ID documents to ensure they are a reliable source of identification.
Notaries must pass a rigorous exam and pass background checks before they can be commissioned to serve the public as a notary. They must also maintain a surety bond and errors and omission insurance to provide financial protection in case they make a mistake that causes harm to a client or customer. Read more interesting articles on Ebeak