LegalZoom Notarizing Your Legal Documents Common Questions
notary common questions
What is a notary public?
A notary public is an official appointed by state government to authenticate signatures on legal documents. The primary duty of the notary public is to verify that the person signing a legal document is, in fact, the person who should be signing the document. A notary public is not an attorney and cannot offer legal advice.
Why do I need to have my signatures notarized?
State law requires that many types of documents be notarized. Even if not required, other documents can be notarized, providing an additional level of security to the document.
What can I expect when I go to a notary public?
When you go to a notary public, you will need to present one or more forms of identification. Be sure to call ahead to make sure you have the correct identification before you go. Once the notary verifies your identity, he or she will instruct you to sign the legal document. After the notary witnesses your signature, they will stamp the document with their official, raised seal. The document is now notarized.
Can I sign my documents before I go to the notary public?
In order for the notary to guarantee that they witnessed the signing of the document and that the signer swore to certain facts about the document, the notary will have to witness the signing of the document (called a jurat). Another notarial act, called an acknowledgment, requires the signer to, in the presence of a notary, acknowledge that he or she signed the document. Which notarial act is performed is determined by person requesting the notary services and cannot be determined by the notary.
Why can't I notarize my legal documents at a bank?
Some banks provide a signature guarantee service (Medallion guarantee) to help prevent the unauthorized transfer of securities using a forged signature. While similar to obtaining a notary's certification, it is not the same as having a document notarized. Banks can be held responsible for certifying a forged or incorrect signature, so they typically certify only financial documents. Only a notary public may notarize a document.
How much does it cost to have a signature notarized?
Notaries charge a fee for their services. Notary fees are regulated by state governments and can range from $0.50 to over $15.00 for each signature witnessed. Contact The UPS Store or Mail Boxes Etc. location near you to determine how much that location charges for notary services.

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