State governments appoint notaries to act as impartial witnesses to the signing of important documents, essentially guarding against fraud by verifying identity. Though notaries do not provide legal guidance on the contents of documents, they do confirm that signers are not under duress—and are aware of what they are signing. Here are examples of common notarial acts.
Forbes points out that nearly any type of document can be notarized and offers these common examples of when notaries are required:
- Beneficiary designation for a retirement account or insurance policy
- Notice to add or remove a name from a title
- Advanced health directive
- Power of attorney
- Temporary guardianship agreement
- Motor vehicle bill of sale
- Handgun permit
- Promissory note agreement
The most common act associated with notariesis “signature witnessing.” Notaries do this by verifying the signatory’s identity, observing sign off on the document, and then stamping, signing and dating it themselves. Depending on state laws, and the type of document being notarized, Forbes explains that notaries may also be called upon for:
Acknowledgment. This is for documents that control ownership of a valuable asset, such as a deed, power of attorney or trust document. The notary must positively identify you as the signer and ask you to acknowledge that you are signing willingly and that you understand and intend all the document’s provisions.
Jurat. This process is necessary for documents required for civil or criminal proceedings in the courts, such as affidavits, depositions and interrogatories. In this case, the notary must witness your signature and will require you to speak an oath aloud promising that the document’s contents are truthful, under penalty of perjury.
Certified copy. If you need a copy of an original document, such as a college degree or passport, getting the copy notarized means the notary certifies that the reproduction is true, exact and complete.
Because notaries provide a critical public service, states typically require them to secure a notary bond. Essentially a form of protection to the public, a notary bond serves as a guarantee that all duties will be performed in accordance with regulations. As a leading, national, direct bond provider, Colonial Surety makes it easy and speedy for notaries across the country to obtain or renew notary bonds that meet the specific “obligee requirements” in their states. With Colonial’s direct, digital service, notary bonds can be obtained anytime, from anywhere. The steps are easy—get a quote online, fill out the information, and enter a payment method. Bonds can then be e-filed or printed instantly. Obtain Notary Bond Here.
Good To Know: Notarial Certificate?
According to Superior Notary Services, “any service a notary is authorized to perform is a notarial act”: Common notarial acts include administering oaths and taking acknowledgments. When a notary public provides a service, they’ll always use their notarial certificate. Before a notary public issues a notarial certificate, they will certify the document’s authenticity, the signers’ identity, and their willingness to sign it. The notarial certificate verifies the truth of the notarial act. It will have a notary seal or notary stamp and is valid in the eyes of the law.
Protecting The Public—and Notaries
The notary bonds typically required of notaries are a protection for the public, signifying that all duties will be performed in accordance with the law. Colonial Surety helps notaries across the country efficiently and affordably obtain bonds that address the specific obligee requirements in every state. Though notary bonds are an important protection for the public, they do not protect notaries from lawsuits alleging mistakes or oversights.
To help notaries protect themselves from the everyday risks involved in providing professional services, Colonial Surety offers affordable professional liabiity insurance, also known as Errors and Omissions (E&O) insurance. This provides protection in the event of allegations of negligence, work mistakes and oversights, missed deadlines and other omissions. Armed with professional liability coverage, notaries have coverage for legal defense expenses, as well as the cost of settlements and judgments. Watch for professional liability coverage HERE.
Founded in 1930, Colonial Surety Company is a reliable, affordable and dependable source of insurance and surety bonds for working people and their businesses all across the country. Our direct, digital portfolio of 4,000 license and permit bonds and liability protections cover a wide range of interests, professions and businesses.
Colonial Surety Company is listed by the U.S. Treasury as an approved surety, and rated “A” (Excellent) by A.M. Best—an accolade of which we are extremely proud.