The primary job duty of a notary is to help prevent fraud. This is accomplished by witnessing the signing of documents and verifying their authenticity. Notaries public must also keep documentation of all that they’ve notarized, which is done with an embossed seal or stamp that verifies their presence at the signing of a particular document. In carrying out his or her duties, a notary must follow what is dictated in state law and also exercise subjective judgment on matters regarding the state of mind of the signer, the signer’s comprehension of the transaction, and whether fraud or coercion are present. A journal is kept by the notary and every transaction is entered in the journal following the guidelines by the Secretary of State.
Some document transactions require that the signer make a formal declaration before a notary, thereby “acknowledging” execution (signing) of the document. In acknowledging before the notary , the signer is stating that:
• The signer understands the contents and purpose of the document;
• The signature is his/her own
• The document was signed willingly with no coercion present
Some of the types of documents that typically require an acknowledgment are contracts, deeds, agreements, powers of attorney, etc. Documents requiring acknowledgment can be signed earlier than or at the time of notarization. Regardless the signature must clearly be an original one, written clearly and signed with an ink pen.
The facts of a notarial act are conveyed by completing an official statement called the “notarial certificate.” This is a very important part of the notary’s job. The notary must ensure that the notarial certificate is always signed, and often sealed by the notary. The notarial certificate can be located in different parts of a document, however it often appears at the end of a document or can be attached to the document as a separate sheet. The most familiar notarial certificate language reads essentially like: “Acknowledged before me by (Signer’s Name) this (date) day of (month), (year)” or “Sworn/affirmed and subscribed (signed) before me this (date) day of (month), (year). The notarial transaction can not have an errors and the seal and writing must be legible, or some entities will require the notary to be completely redone.
I hope this brief overview provides you some basic facts about the job duties of a notary!