Last updated: August 2023

What Is a Notary? What You Need to Know About Notarization

If you’ve ever found yourself in need of a notary service or are curious about what it means to get something notarized, keep reading to learn the answer to the question: What is a notary? This article will take a look at what a notary does, what the notarization process involves, what documents can be notarized, and where to find a notary near you.

What Is a Notary?

A notary (also referred to as a notary public) is an official appointed by state government to serve the public as a fair and “impartial witness in performing a variety of official fraud-deterrent acts related to the signing of important documents,” according to the National Notary Association. These “official acts” are known as notarizations, or notarial acts.

In other words, a notary witnesses that someone signing a document is who they say they are, is willing to sign it, and understands what it says.

A notary ensures the proper execution of a range of life-changing documents for private citizens. These documents include, but are not limited to:

  • Property deeds
  • Wills
  • Powers of attorney
  • Prenuptial agreements
  • Medical records

The Role of the Notary

According to the National Notary Association, “Impartiality is the foundation of the Notary’s public trust. They are duty-bound not to act in situations where they have a personal interest. The public trusts that the Notary’s screening tasks have not been corrupted by self-interest. And impartiality dictates that a Notary never refuse to serve a person due to race, nationality, religion, politics, sexual orientation or status as a non-customer.”

The role of the notary is an important one. Aside from acting impartially, the notary must verify that all signatures on a document are legitimate. They do this by looking for a few things:

  • Identification. A notary typically requires a government-issued ID from anyone signing the document. In certain instances, a notary can attest if they personally know the individual signing the document.
  • Willingness to sign. The notary will look for signs of coercion. Does it appear that the signer is signing on their own free will, or is someone forcing them to sign?
  • State of mind. A notary will also verify that the signer is in a state of mind where they understand the document they are signing. For example, if a signer appears medicated, intoxicated, or otherwise unaware of what’s going on, the notary cannot notarize the document.

If the notary has any doubt that the signer is who they say they are, is signing on their own free will, or is in a clear state of mind, they can refuse to notarize the document. No one is required to notarize anything.

What Does a Notary Do? All About Notarization

Notarization comprises three distinct elements. During the first part of notarization, the notary screens the document signer for their:

  • True identity
  • Willingness to sign the document on their own volition, without coercion or intimidation
  • Awareness of the contents of the document or transaction

Certain types of notarizations require the notary to put the signer under oath, declaring under penalty of perjury that the information in the document is true and correct.

The second component involves the notary entering details of the notarization into a “journal of notarial acts.” Maintaining a chronological record of notarizations is required by law in many states. Some states even require the document signer to leave their signature and thumbprint in the notary’s journal.

In the third part of notarization, the notary completes a “notarial certificate,” which states what information is being verified by the notary. Then, the notary signs their name and affixes a seal of office on the certificate. The seal is a critical component of notarization. It is a universally recognized symbol of the notary office, and it gives the document credibility in legal matters.

What Do You Need to Get a Document Notarized?

Notarization typically requires proof of identity, so you will need to bring some form of government-issued identification, such as a driver’s license or passport. If the notarization involves buying and selling, such as the purchase of a previously owned vehicle, both buyer and seller must be present.

Where Is the Easiest Place to Get Something Notarized?

You deserve to feel confident when making important, life-changing decisions. Our notary services can give you that confidence, whether you’re notarizing the property deed on a new home, a title transfer, will, or other document. Just take a look at the different notary services we offer:

  • Medical notarization services, such as medical records, disability claims, and wills
  • Auto notarization services, including purchases, mortgages, and title transfers
  • Real estate notarization services, such as property deeds, loans, and title transfers
  • General notarization services, like contracts, trusts, authorizations, powers of attorney, and employment documents

Wondering where to find a notary near you? We offer notary services at the following locations in Louisiana:

Getting one document notarized can cost as little as $10! For more information, call 1-877-GO-DIRECT (1-877-463-4732) or visit a Direct Auto store near you.

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