In order for a person to receive a notarial commission and become a notary public, the he must meet certain requirements that vary from state to state. In general, he must be at least 18 years old, a resident of the state for at least 30 days, submit an application to the Lieutenant Governor’s office, receive two endorsements from residents of the state that are also at least 18 years old, pay for and pass a notarial test, obtain a $5,000 notary bond and pay various fees.
What is a Notary Public?
Notaries are public servants that are commissioned by the state Lieutenant Governor’s office to witness the signing of important legal documents and to administer oaths. The purpose of the documents will vary greatly but will likely include real estate–related documents. These documents are susceptible to fraud.
Allowable Forms of Signer Identification
Because a notary public is required to positively identify the signer(s) of a document using a form of government-issued identification, the likelihood of fraud is low with a notarized document. Acceptable forms of identification include a driver’s license, passport or military ID. Some documents are not legally binding unless they are properly notarized. These include affidavits, deeds and powers of attorney. Warranty deeds are common real estate–related documents that require the endorsement of a notary public.
Persons Allowed to Notarize Real Estate–Related Documents
Once the lieutenant governor of the state issues a notarial commission to a person, she may perform notarial acts in any part of the state for which the commission was issued. The term of the commission lasts for four years. As part of the notarial act, the notary public must specify the state and county where the notarial act was performed (the notary public must be aware of the county in which they are performing a notarial act in order to execute the act correctly). If this is not done, the document will not be legally binding. Some states allow only attorneys to notarize real estate–related documents. If you are uncertain if this applies to you, contact your local Lieutenant Governor’s office for more information.
Real Estate Documents That May Require a Notarization
The types of documents that require a notarization include, but are not limited to, closing documents signed by both the sellers and the buyers and warranty deeds. Real estate transactions executed in different states may require different forms to be notarized.
Notaries and Legal Advice
Non-attorney notaries are not qualified to dispense legal advice. If a notary advertises his services, the advertisement must include the following statement: “I am not an attorney licensed to practice law in (state) and may not give legal advice about immigration or any other legal matters or accept fees for legal advice." If the notary public advertises his services in a language other than English, the same disclaimer must be included.
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