Training for Notaries & Signing Agents
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Basic Notary Public Information
What Exactly is a Notary Public?The simplest definition of a Notary Public is: a public official commissioned by the state to witness the executing of documents and administer oaths.
Beyond that, a Notary is a person of proven integrity appointed by the government to serve as an impartial witness, create a public record, detect and deter document fraud and then document the entire process with accurate records. It might sound a little daunting, but it's really quite simple. Let's break it down a little bit.
"Public official commissioned by the state" simply means that each state government presides over Notaries and you apply for your commission to your state government, not the federal government or any other entity.
"Executing of documents" is the same as saying signing of documents. A Notary witnesses the signing of documents and then prepares the properly worded notarization form, called an Acknowledgement, by filling in required information and then signing and stamping it, thus notarizing the signature on the document (you acknowledge witnessing that person sign that document on that date). The notarization is properly entered into an official Journal of Notarial Acts, creating official documentation of the event.
"Administer oaths" can mean actually having a person raise their right hand in court, but unless you're also a court reporter, it most commonly means that a person swears an oath or simply affirms to the Notary that something is true or transpired. It usually is something as simple as "I, Mary Smith, swear or affirm that prior to (date) I went by the name of Mary Jones." The Notary then fills out the proper form, called a Jurat, signing and stamping it, basically stating that you witnessed Mary Smith swearing an oath or affirming that such and such is true. Again, details are documented in the Notary Journal.
"A Notary is a person of proven integrity." How does your state know that a Notary is a person of proven integrity? In some states this simply means that no felonies have been committed. Most states require fingerprints and background checks as part of the application process.
How does a Notary "detect and deter document fraud"? Simply by carefully checking the person's proper ID according to the steps in your state's Notary Handbook. In addition, your job is to make sure forms are properly filled out and refuse to Notarize and report any IDs or paperwork with obvious problems.
Next - Why Should I Become a Notary Public?
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