What is a Notary?

NOTARY-BLOG-scaledCertain deeds, papers, and writings must be notarized to qualify as evidence of the facts therein contained. To notarize a document, it must be signed and sworn in front of a public official called a notary public. In other words, a notary public serves as an impartial witness to execute acknowledgments on important documents requiring the administration of an oath. The general authority of a notary public is outlined in NY CLS Exec § 135. In New York, notaries must be commissioned by the Secretary of State. To become licensed, applicants must be a resident or have a place of business in New York State, be at least 18 years old, submit a completed application and pay the required fee to the Department of State, and pass the NYS Notary Public Exam. A notary public’s term of commission is four years. 

What Are The Main Responsibilities Of A Notary Public?

According to the New York State Department of State, notarial functions include the following:

  1. Receiving and certifying proof or acknowledgments of various written documents;
  2. Taking depositions and affidavits;
  3. Administering affirmations and oaths;
  4. Demanding payment of foreign and domestic promissory notes, orders of payment, and other obligations in writing; and
  5. Disputing promissory notes, orders of payment, and other written obligations for non-payment.

Most county clerk’s offices usually offer notary services to the public during regular business hours. Additionally, many law firms, banks, real estate companies, certified public accountant offices, colleges, and parcel shipping stores, such as FedEx and United Parcel Service (UPS), employ commissioned notaries public.   

Paperwork Requiring Notarization

Notaries screen a signatory for their true identity, understanding of the contents of the paperwork or transaction, and willingness to sign without coercion or intimidation. A notary’s signature on a paper means that acting as an independent 3rd party, they witnessed the person sign the document and verified that individual’s identity. The most common types of documents that may require notarization include:

  1. Legal affidavits;
  2. Property deeds;
  3. Wills;
  4. Articles of incorporation;
  5. Commercial leases; 
  6. Certain employment contracts;
  7. Certified copies of documents, such as marriage, divorce, birth or death certificates;
  8. Powers of attorney;
  9. Trusts;
  10. Title transfers of cars and houses;
  11. Passport applications for minors; and
  12. Healthcare directives.

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