Notary

DEFINITION of 'Notary'

A notary is a publicly commissioned official, also referred to as a "notary public." The main duty of a notary is to serve as an impartial witness to the signing of a legal document. Notaries cannot refuse to witness a document based on race, nationality, religion or sex. Document signings where consumers are likely to need the services of a notary include real estate deeds, affidavits, wills, trusts and powers of attorney. The main reason a notary is used is to deter fraud.

BREAKING DOWN 'Notary'

Notaries are also used to create a trustworthy environment for strangers. Prior to the signing of a document, notaries ask for photo identification from parties involved to verify identity and see signatures ahead of time. A notary can refuse to authenticate a document if he is uncertain of the identity of the signing parties or suspects fraud. For a document to be notarized, it must contain a commitment of some sort via text. The document must also contain original signatures from the parties involved. The document then receives a notarial certificate and the seal of the notary who witnessed the signings. Notaries are not able to give legal advice and can be fined for doing so. Notaries are not to act in situations where they have a personal interest.

The steps and costs to becoming a notary vary state to state. Notaries must be 18 years old and reside in the state in which they are licensed. There are also limits on becoming a notary with prior convictions of felonies and misdemeanors. Costs to become a notary cover items such as training, supplies, a bond and the oath of office.

History of Notaries

The history of notaries can be traced back to the times of ancient Egypt when they were known as scribes. Notaries have also been present in several of the most important time periods in world history. The first recognized notary was Tito, a Roman slave during the ancient Roman empire. A notary accompanied Christopher Columbus on his voyage to ensure King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella that all discoveries were properly noted.

Popular author Mark Twain was once a notary. Artists Salvador Dali and Leonardo Da Vinci were both the sons of notaries. Calvin Coolidge, the 30th president of the United States, was also the son of a notary. Coolidge remains the only president to be sworn into office by a notary, his father. Women were not allowed to be notaries until the 1900s, and as of 2016, make up more than 60% of the workforce.

Since 1957, the National Notary Association has helped people across the country become notaries. It is the national leader in training and education. The organization is a nonprofit and serves more than 4.5 million members nationwide.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Notice Of Dishonor

    A formal notice stating that the bank that a check or draft is ...
  2. Grant Deed

    A legal document used to transfer ownership of real property. ...
  3. Qualified Joint And Survivor Annuity ...

    An annuity payment from a qualified plan or 403(b) account that ...
  4. Alternative Documentation

    A documentation process designed to expedite loan approval where ...
  5. Hospital Visitation Authorization

    A document that indicates who is allowed to visit a patient in ...
  6. Attestation

    The act of witnessing the signing of a document and then also ...
Related Articles
  1. Credit & Loans

    Banks Can Notarize Your Documents for Free

    Learn how you can obtain the services of a notary public for free at your local bank branch, along with other places where you can have a document notarized.
  2. Home & Auto

    3 Things To Get In Order Before You Die

    In the aftermath of the Jackson death, it has become evident that you need to make your wishes known.
  3. Retirement

    Power Of Attorney Form

    Be sure that any
  4. Personal Finance

    Employer? Steps To Fill Out Immigration's I-9 Form

    Step-by-step, here's how you and the employee you've hired fill out this required form from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
  5. Retirement

    How to Manage Money for Someone with Alzheimer's

    Alzheimer’s disease affects more than 5 million Americans, and approximately one in three seniors will die with dementia. Proactive planning is essential.
  6. Retirement

    7 Essential Questions To Ask Aging Parents About Their Finances

    No one wants to think about the aging of his or her parents, let alone plan for their death. Unfortunately, aging is a part of life, and in order to truly support your parents, it's best to start ...
  7. Credit & Loans

    How To Finance Foreign Real Estate

    If you don't pay cash, financing real estate abroad is likely to cost more than at home. Watch for local laws and be sure your rights are protected.
  8. Retirement

    Steps To Replace Or Update Your Social Security ID

    Investopedia's step-by-step guide to filling out the form that gets you a new or replacement Social Security card.
  9. Home & Auto

    7 Must-Have Real Estate Contract Conditions

    It's a good idea to educate yourself on the not-so-obvious parts of a real estate contract.
  10. Home & Auto

    12 Steps To Closing A Real Estate Deal

    A long list of things needs to happen before a home becomes yours. Find out what to expect.
RELATED FAQS
  1. How can the problem of asymmetric information be overcome?

    Find out how market actors deal with the problem of asymmetric information, particularly when it leads to possible adverse ... Read Answer >>
  2. What are the GAAP standards for digital document storage?

    According to Sarbanes Oxley Act (SOX), companies are required to keep all documents that contain information about a company's ... Read Answer >>
  3. How can I change my name on my Social Security card?

    Learn what documents are needed to change your name on your Social Security card whether you are a natural-born or foreign ... Read Answer >>
  4. What real estate documents need to be recorded?

    Learn how recording documents on real estate transactions, such as deeds, mortgages, easements and taxes, help ensure proper ... Read Answer >>
  5. Does bankruptcy information go on the public record?

    Learn about the public record and whether or not bankruptcy documents are included. Explore situations where certain bankruptcy ... Read Answer >>
  6. What documents I need to transfer an IRA/SEP/SIMPLE to a Traditional IRA?

    Most firms require that you complete their account transfer request form, which they use to request the transfer of assets ... Read Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Goldilocks Economy

    An economy that is not so hot that it causes inflation, and not so cold that it causes a recession. This term is used to ...
  2. White Squire

    Very similar to a "white knight", but instead of purchasing a majority interest, the squire purchases a lesser interest in ...
  3. MACD Technical Indicator

    Moving Average Convergence Divergence (or MACD) is a trend-following momentum indicator that shows the relationship between ...
  4. Over-The-Counter - OTC

    Over-The-Counter (or OTC) is a security traded in some context other than on a formal exchange such as the NYSE, TSX, AMEX, ...
  5. Quarter - Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4

    A three-month period on a financial calendar that acts as a basis for the reporting of earnings and the paying of dividends.
  6. Weighted Average Cost Of Capital - WACC

    Weighted average cost of capital (WACC) is a calculation of a firm's cost of capital in which each category of capital is ...
Trading Center