Notary Publics are government officials who are responsible for authorizing signatures and in a lot of ways prevent fraud; therefore, they have to adhere to state laws.
However, these laws vary depending on the state in which one is practicing notarial acts.
This variation often blurs the line between Dos and Don’ts for new Notaries and can lead to hefty fines and even legal action against the notary. That makes it imperative for you to understand your notarial state laws well and perform in-depth due diligence before you start executing any notarial acts.
Here are 5 things you should not do while notarizing.
1. Do not forget the basics
There are a few basics of notarization process which cannot be overlooked. Some of those are listed below.
- Ensure presence of singers. This process is allowed to be done remotely in some states.
- Documents cannot have any missing or blank pages at the time of notarization.
- Date on document has to be the day of notarization.
- Document needs to be original at the time of notarization.
- Do not notarize a document which you know has falsely declared information.
2. Never give a legal advice
One of the biggest notary related myths that has been around for decades is that Notaries are equipped to provide legal guidance. However, providing any legal advice is strictly prohibited for a notary unless you are a certified legal advisor or licensed attorney.
Having said that, a licensed attorney can only notarize a self-prepared legal document if it does not mention his or her own name in it.
3. Never try to make a document appear legal
Similar to the point highlighted above, there is widespread misconception that Notary’s seal and signature alone will make a document legally binding, which is not true. Due to this reason, you may receive many requests to make improper documents appear legal, which you should immediately refuse.
4. Never Promote Advertising
Sometimes, business owners may want to use your seal or official credentials in their advertisements to promote their product. This is strictly prohibited by laws of all US states as this may appear as a government agency approving a product or promotion which is not the case.
5. Never notarize a document with expired commission details
Documents notarized with an expired stamp, whether intentionally or unintentionally can put you into serious trouble, even possible lawsuits, as some states like Florida consider this as a “misdemeanor of second degree” and can lead to fines and imprisonment in some cases.
As manipulation and errors notarized documents can have hugely negative implications on the Notary. It is important for you to understand your state laws, follow them while at work and be able to refuse requests from clients that seem potentially unlawful or unethical.