Very few people go through life without needing a notary from time to time. A notary acts as an impartial witness when signing a legal document, such as a will, deed, trust, affidavit, power of attorney, or another legal document. The notary, or as they are often called, “notary public,” must see the photo ID of the document signers, and observe the parties sign the document. Once signed, the notary impresses a seal on the document, and issues a certificate.
The Duties of a Notary
A notary has a responsibility to ensure the individuals signing a document are verified with picture ID. In some cases, a verbal acknowledgment may be required to confirm:
- The individual signing the document understands the content and purpose of it.
- The document is being signed with free will, without coercion.
- The signature is that of the individual.
In some cases, an oath or affirmation is required, such as affidavits and some types of applications. Documents that require an oath must be signed in front of the notary. If already signed, the notary will require the individual to sign it again.
Notaries have a critical legal responsibility. To notarize a document, specific elements are required:
- The signer of the document must be physically present.
- The notary must personally know the signer of the document, or see a satisfactory picture ID.
- The document must be the original.
- The document must be complete.
- The document date must be the day of notarization, or earlier – never later.
- The notary must be confident that the signer understands the content and purpose of the document.
- The document signing must be recorded.
- If a verbal acknowledgment is required, it must be performed.
- A notary certificate must be complete.
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I am not an attorney licensed to practice law in Maryland. I am not allowed to draft legal records, give legal matters, including immigration, or charge a fee for those activities.