Notary Public is important to the legal system as many court documents must be notarized. A notary public is a person authorized by the Secretary of State to serve the public in non-contentious matters and has statutory powers to witness documents, administer oaths, and perform other wide-ranging administrative functions of a national and international nature. The main functions of a notary include:
· Attesting documents and certifying their due execution for use
· Preparing and certifying powers of attorney, wills, deeds, contracts and other legal documents
· Administering oaths
· Witnessing signatures to affidavits, statutory declarations, powers of attorney, contracts, and other documents
· Verifying documents
· Certifying copy documents
· Exemplifying official documents
· Notes and protests bills of exchange
A document is “notarized” with a special embossed notary seal to affirm that the signers are indeed who they say they are. Notaries Public affix their official seal or stamp, to documents immediately under, adjacent or as near as possible to their signatures.
The eligibility criteria for becoming a notary are determined by state law. Each state has its own requirements. Generally the person must be at least 18 years of age and either living or be employed in the state. There are no specific legal training requirements. Most states also require applicants to take and pass a proctored exam before practicing as a notary public. Some states ask that individuals secure a bond prior to applying for a position as a notary public. Once commissioned as a notary public, the commission is valid for a fixed term and must be renewed on expiry of the term. Most states prescribe the fees that a notary public can charge. A notary public must keep a record in a well-bound book of each of his or her attestations.
Notaries are expected to be familiar with the codes and ordinances applicable to notarizing documents and performing notary duties. A notary may be sued if his/her actions were negligent. Upon notification by a court of law that a notary has been convicted of false certification, the Secretary of State will revoke the notary’s commission. Errors and Omissions Insurance (commonly called E & O) is a form of liability insurance that protects the notary public from claims or suits that are the result of the notary’s negligent acts, errors or omissions.