A mobile notary and certified loan signing service
Serving The Greater Sacramento Area.
NOTARY PUBLIC: Serving all of Placer County, California and surrounding areas
Notaries are not attorneys and are therefore forbidden from preparing legal documents or giving any legal advice.
A notary cannot answer your legal questions or provide legal advice about your particular document or situation.
Copyright 2008-2009 The Rotary Notary. All rights reserved.
What is a Notary Public?
A California Notary Public is a public servant commissioned by the Secretary of State to act as an impartial witness in taking acknowledgments, administering oaths and affirmations and in general preparing notarial certificates and performing other duties authorized by and in accordance with state law. Notaries lend credibility to the authenticity of certain important documents by verifying the signer's identity and in some cases placing the signers under oath to "swear" or "affirm" as to the truthfulness of the statements claimed in the document.
What is a Mobile Notary Public?
A Mobile Notary is an individual who travels to a location requested by the client/signer and performs the notarization at that location. Often times the Mobile Notary is requested to perform notarizations at Healthcare facilities, law offices, mortgage or title companies, a signer's workplace or home, sometimes even at restaurants. Mobile Notaries perform the same duties that regular "store-front" notaries do, except they do so at a time and place that caters to their clients' need. Many Mobile Notaries also work evenings and weekends.
What is a Signing Agent?
A Signing Agent is a Notary Public who has received extra training in the presentation and execution of (in most cases) financial document packages. Some signing agents also take advanced classes and exams to become "certified" and/or "background screened." Most "signings" are real estate related, such as home loans, refinancing, buying and selling. A signing agent may also sign off on a reverse mortgage, adoption papers, estate planning or a loan application. In these days of Internet shopping for interest rates, it's not uncommon for a home owner or buyer to find a lender out of state. A typical document package for one of the above transactions will contain between 100 and 200 pages, many of which require special, time-sensitive attention and/or notarization. In these cases the documents are sent (via e-mail or courier) to the notary signing agent who then arranges to meet the client in order to present the package and to guide the signers through all the documents and collect all required signatures.
Does notarizing something make it "legal"?
NO. When a document has been notarized, it means the signer had to prove his/her identity to the notary and that he/she acknowledged to the notary that he/she signed the document or has stated under oath or affirmation that the content of the document is true. While having a document notarized makes its authenticity more credible, it does not make it any more "legal".
Is notarization required by law?
Often times, yes. Most affidavits, Health Care Directives, Trusts, Powers of Attorney, Deeds and other recorded documents are not valid or legally binding unless they are properly notarized.
Why do some documents have to be notarized?
Most documents are notarized in order to deter fraud and to make sure they are properly executed. Most companies / entities that require notarized signatures are counting on the notary as a public official to be an impartial witness to the execution of an important document. The Notary must identify the signer and determine they are signing their documents knowingly and willingly.
How does a Notary "Identify" a signer?
The wording on all notarial certificates in California reads "proved to me on the basis of satisfactory evidence". The Notary must see a valid government issued photo identification card. (Drivers License, State I.D. Card or Passport for example) "Proved to me on the basis of satisfactory evidence" means the signer must present at least one form of ID bearing the following criteria: It should be current (unexpired) or, if expired, must be within 5 years from date of issue. It must contain the signer's photograph, physical description and signature. It must bear an identification or serial number. (Civil code, Section 1185)
An acceptable ID a signer may present is restricted to the following:
Driver's License or State issued Identification Card.
(Any U.S. State is fine)
U.S. Military ID card
(Common Access Card not acceptable)
Mexican or Canadian Driver's License
Foreign Passport stamped by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service
Inmate ID card issued by the California
Department of Corrections
What if the signer doesn't have an acceptable I.D.?
If the signer does not possess proper ID and obtaining it is difficult if not impossible (such as a frail 93 year old in a healthcare facility is unlikely to make a trip to the DMV), the notary may rely on the oath of two (2) credible witnesses who shall, under oath or affirmation, attest to the signer's identity. These 2 credible witnesses must be 18 years of age or older and present valid government issued photo ID to the notary. Depending on the nature of the document the signer is executing, direct family members may be excluded from being credible witnesses. Be sure to comply with the notary when asked questions as to the nature of the document and the relationship of witnesses to the signer. Inappropriate witnesses could severely complicate if not negate the validity of the document.
What if the signer is disabled or too frail or ill to sign his/her name?
In those cases where the individual signing his/her name is competent to sign, but unable to do so because of disability or frailty there is a procedure called "signature by mark". The protocol for this requires two (2) witnesses. The signer makes a mark, frequently an "X", which is witnessed by the 2 witnesses. There is a form that the Notary can provide that one of the witnesses fills out and both witnesses sign it. This procedure essentially converts that "X" into the signer's legal signature for the purposes of that particular document.
Can a Notary notarize a Will?
Secretary of State and the California Bar Association recommend that when a Notary is asked to notarize a will, the notary should decline and advise the person requesting the notarization to seek an attorney. Notaries should be sure to reiterate to the person making such a request that notarizing a document doesn't make it legal. Instruments such as wills should be given the highest level of expertise and scrutiny and should be drawn up by, or at least reviewed by an attorney at law. Once assured that an attorney reviewed the will and recommended its notarization a notary may proceed.
May a Notary give legal advice or prepare legal documents?
No. Some attorneys are notaries, but most notaries are not attorneys and are therefore forbidden by law to give any legal advice. Notaries may not prepare any legal document nor act as a legal advisor unless they are an attorney. Notaries who give legal advice or prepare legal documents can be prosecuted, fined and imprisoned.
What's an Acknowledgment?
An acknowledgment is the most common notarial act. It is simply just that...the signer acknowledges to the notary that he/she signed the document knowingly and willingly. The notary must verify the signer's identity and confirm that the signature belongs to the signer. In the case of acknowledgments, the document does not need to be signed in front of the notary, however as a rule of thumb, most people wait until the notary is present before signing.
What's a Jurat?
A Jurat is a type of notarization that is used when the signer needs to be placed under oath to swear (affirm) that the content of the documents are true. In the case of Jurats, the document must be signed in the notary's presence and the signer must prove their identity to the notary.
Can a Notary make certified copies?
In the State of California, the only document that a Notary may make Certified Copies of is a Power of Attorney. In order to do so, the Notary must see and inspect the original Power of Attorney, inspect the copies of the Power of Attorney and verify that the copy is in fact a true and exact copy. Copies of vital records such as birth, fetal death, death and marriage certificates may only be made by the State Registrar, acting local registrars during their terms of office, and by the county recorder.
How can I get a copy of my driver's license or Passport certified?
Notaries may perform a "Copy Certification by Document Custodian". It's easier to explain than to define. You make a photocopy of your driver's license and/or passport as part of the application process for a foreign adoption, for example. You are required to have it certified / notarized. Present the photocopy along with the original to a notary. The notary should have you fill out a certificate stating that you certify that the attached photocopy of your driver's license is a true and exact copy. The notary then places you under oath and asks you if you swear (or affirm) that this information is true. This certificate gets notarized. Any document in a signer's possession (besides a vital record) can be certified in this manner.