A Notary Public’s seal on any document is a clear indication that it has been verified by a Notary. Most documents don’t need to have a Notary seal to become enforceable. But there are instances when notarizing is required and documents will be refused without notarization.
What Does It Mean to Notarize a Document?
Notarizing a document is simply having a neutral third party (the Notary Public) verify that you are who you say you are and that the signature you’ve provided on the paperwork is authentic.
A Notary Public is a public official appointed by the government to witness the signing of important documents, verify the identity of the signer(s), witness and verify their awareness of the contents of the specific documents or transaction, and also verify their willingness to sign the documents.
Why Is Notarizing a Document Important?
Not all documents need to be signed in the presence of a Notary Public, but many do. For example, the court system, banks, and most financial institutions require certain documents to have a Notary seal.
The main purpose of notarizing documents is to ensure proper execution and to deter fraud. You might have heard of cases where one party denied signing a document during a transaction to the other party’s detriment. Notarizing prevents these kinds of disputes.
A mortgage document is a special type of document that protects a lender in the event a borrower fails to honor his or her obligations. A mortgage document secures the property as collateral until the borrower pays the mortgage in full. Before the deal is sealed, the original mortgage document must be completed, signed, and notarized. Without a Notary’s seal on the document, the mortgage is considered invalid.
Another example is the affidavit statement. To make the statement of an affidavit valid, a Notary Public is authorized to administer oaths and also notarize the documents. An affidavit statement document is sealed by a Notary so that in the event you’re prosecuted for making a false statement under oath, you cannot turn around and deny that you didn’t sign the document. The court will believe the Notary seal on the document over your words.
This clearly shows that notarizing documents is a good way to protect yourself from being defrauded or even falsely accused by other parties.
As a document signer, you are required to meet the Notary Public in person and must show proof of identity. You must appear to be mentally aware of the main purpose that the document will serve and to voluntarily agree to the set terms of the documents. Finally, you must swear that every single statement on the documents is true and correct.
What Shows That a Document Has Been Notarized?
For a document to be considered notarized, it must consist of the following elements:
- Some text committing the person signing the document in some way
- An original signature of the document signer, not a photocopy
- A certificate from the Notary Public, which may be present on the document itself or as an attachment
What Types of Documents Are Notarized?
The range of documents that require notarization varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The most common ones include:
- Power of Attorney—Notarization of these documents is crucial because you’re essentially giving your rights to another person whom you authorize.
- Mortgages—Mortgage documents have to be signed and sealed by a Notary to be considered valid and to be entered into public record. If you’re purchasing a house on a mortgage, your bank or mortgage lender will involve a Notary Public in the signing of the documents as a means to protect themselves should you fail to honor the mortgage payments.
- Affidavits—A Notary seal on an affidavit is an indicator that the statement is valid
These are just a few of the types of documents protected by notarization. With Americans notarizing approximately 1.5 billion documents annually, it’s a process you can’t afford to skip when carrying out important transactions.
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