Why would I need a Notary Public?

A Notary Public is a non-judicial public official appointed by the Office of the Secretary of State of California to witness the signing of important documents and to administer oaths. Documents are notarized to deter fraud and to ensure they are properly executed. An impartial witness (the Notary) identifies signers to screen out impostors and to make sure they have entered into agreements knowingly and willingly.

Are there any documents that can't be notarized?

A notary is not allowed to notarize incomplete documents, copies of Birth, Death, Marriage Certificates and School Transcripts. At the direction of an attorney, a Notary Public may notarize a Will but ONLY at the request of an attorney. To do otherwise might invalidate the Will.

The Notary fills in the certificate, signs it, and applies his or her seal to complete the notarization.

Does notarization mean that a document is "true" or "legal?"

No. Notaries are not responsible for the accuracy or legality of documents they notarize. Notaries certify the identity of signers. The signers are responsible for the content of the documents.

How does a Notary identify a signer?

You will need to provide valid ID to the Notary.

If you don't have proper ID, you can use the "sworn word of two credible identifying witnesses" with proper ID. This would be two individuals who personally know you and execute a sworn affidavit to that fact. I then document their valid identification and they sign and thumbprint my Notary Journal. They cannot be financially involved or named in the document requiring notarization.

Can a Notary give legal advice or prepare legal documents?

No, a Notary is forbidden from preparing legal documents or acting as a legal advisor unless he or she is also an attorney. Violators can be prosecuted for the unauthorized practice of law, so a Notary cannot answer your legal questions or provide advice about your particular document.

What is an Apostille or Certification?

The California Secretary of State provides authentication of public official signatures on documents to be used outside the United States of America. The country of destination determines whether the authentication is an Apostille or Certification.