What to Expect When You Need a Legal Document Notarized
In the legal community, certain documents are only legally-binding and enforceable once signed and notarized by a licensed notary public. By definition, a licensed notary public is a public official who has successfully fulfilled their respective state's requirements to receive licensing. Once someone becomes a notary, they can earn money attesting to and signing off on the legitimacy of signatures attached to legal documents.
For the everyday individual, finding a licensed notary presents specific challenges. Once individuals find a notary, they face other challenges that make the notarization process nothing short of a hassle and an inconvenience.
Note that this process demands a significant amount of time and effort that’s unavoidable due to certain laws and protocols. That's why companies like Superior Notary Services do everything they can to make sure the notarization process is as efficient as possible.
In the sections below, the discussion will focus on the notarization process. From this information, you’ll hopefully gain an understanding of why it's a tedious but necessary process. Avoid feelings blindsided by the ins and out of the notarization process by familiarizing yourself with the ins and outs.
Documents that require notarization
While these notarization laws may vary from one state to the next, here are some of the most common documents that require notarization:
- Wills and testaments
- Employment contracts
- Legal complaints and affidavits
- Real estate transactions: buying and selling
- Mortgage notes
- Real estate transactions: title transfers
- Guardianship orders
Note: This list isn’t exhaustive and only features a few types of documents that may require notarization. As a rule of thumb, you should notarize any legal document that might go before a judge.
The process: what to expect when you need a legal document notarized
Once you find a qualified notary public, you’ll need to coordinate a meeting with the notary and all document signers. All signers need to be present so the notary can adequately verify the signer’s identities. Remember, the notarization process is intended to prevent fraud and make sure legal documents are processed correctly.
Note: If all signers can't be present simultaneously, each individual will have to request notarization, one-by-one. Remember, you must sign documents in need of notarization in front of the notary. It’s illegal for them to notarize a pre-signed document of any kind.
After the signatures have been affixed and notarized, you will need to pay the notary their set notary fee. Generally speaking, expect to pay $15 per notarized document, though some fees can exceed $100, depending on the circumstances.
The notary's responsibilitiesA notary acts as a surrogate for the legal system. The notarization process is so tedious that lawyers and court officials don't have time to vouch for all individuals signing pertinent legal documents. Therefore, the responsibility falls on licensed notary publics who get paid for their services.
Before hiring a notary, you should familiarize yourself with their primary duties. In most cases, a notary had three central responsibilities.
Firstly, they are required to verify each signer’s identity before the signer signs the document. The acceptable forms of identification include a driver’s license, birth certificate, or passport. In some states, a notary might accept military or state-issued identification cards.
Secondly, the notary must witness the entire signing process, so the notary has an opportunity to confirm each signer is of sound mind and body during the signing process. If a signer is visibly inebriated or coerced into signing these documents, a notary will take action.
Finally, a qualified and experienced notary should note the signer’s disposition as they sign. To ensure optimal security, a notary should be looking for signs that a signer is proceeding under duress or against their will. Examples of duress include inequalities in the power of negotiation, literacy problems, etc.
For clarification purposes, a notary is a public official, not an attorney and isn’t required to attest to the legitimacy of the legal document signed. These notaries simply notarize the paperwork based on the belief that everyone involved is acting in good faith.
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