What Is A Notary Public?

A notary public is an official appointed by state government to serve the public as an impartial witness in performing a variety of official fraud-deterrent acts related to the signing of important documents.  These official acts are called notarizations or notarial acts.  Some acts require administering an oath under which the signer declares, under penalty of perjury, that the information in the document is true and correct.

Why is notarization necessary?

Documents are notarized to increase public trust in transactions, signed documents, and to help deter fraud. As an impartial witness, the notary verifies that the signers are who they say they are. The notary makes sure that the signers have entered into the agreement knowingly and willingly. The notary also certifies proper execution of documents.

Contrary to common belief, notarization does not make a document legal or true. Notaries are not responsible for the accuracy or legality of documents they notarize. The issuer of the document or signer is responsible for the content of the documents. A notary is prohibited from drafting legal documents or acting as a legal advisor, unless they’re also an attorney. Violators can be prosecuted for the unauthorized practice of law.