Frequently Asked Questions
What is a notarization? What does a notary do?
Notarization is an anti-fraud measure. A notarization is performed by a government-authorized person called a notary. A notary’s job is to verify a signer’s identity, to witness the signing of a document or take the acknowledgment of the signer, and to provide an independent and neutral check on the mental capacity of the signer. Notaries indicate they have performed these tasks by affixing their signature and notarial stamp or seal to a document. Notarizations have evidentiary value in court because they are considered self-authenticating.
Why do documents need to be notarized?
Notarization helps provide confidence that a document was actually signed by the person named in the document. Many state laws require notarizations to make documents legally effective or binding on third parties. Examples include recorded deeds and mortgages and durable or health care powers of attorney.
How does a notary identify a signer in a traditional notarization?
A notary will review the signers’ current and valid government issued ID that has a photo, physical description and signature. This is typically a driver's license or passport. Based on their training they will determine if the ID is authentic and matches the person that presented the ID.
Is a notarization valid everywhere in the U.S.?
Yes. All states have laws recognizing the authority of notarial acts conducted by out-of-state notaries. The signature and title of a notary conclusively establish the authority of the officer to perform the notarial act.
What is necessary for a valid notarization? What makes a notarization valid and enforceable?
A valid notarization can only be performed by a duly authorized notary who is a disinterested witness. Notaries must complete and attach a certificate to the document as evidence of the notarial act. Generally, a notarial act is not invalidated after the fact due to minor technicalities or notary negligence under state laws.
What type of documents are notarized?
Notarizations are used extensively in real estate transactions on deeds, mortgages, lien releases, and frequently for home equity loans. Notarizations are also utilized for auto registration documents, educational institutions, affidavits, powers of attorney, living trusts, advance health care directives and other documents as needed.