Purpose of a Notary Seal

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In American society, a notary public serves a number of important functions. The central purpose of a notary is to ensure proper authentication in the execution of documents and to defer fraud. A notary seal is the means by which a notary demonstrates that she has executed the duties of the tasks for which she has received her commission.

What Is a Notary Public?

  • In the United States, a notary public, also known as a notary, is an appointed civil servant with a commission to a particular state. As such, a notary is almost always required to be a legal resident of the state. Notaries are also required to receive training in the proper procedures of performing the duties of a notary in a particular state. Unlike a notary public in Canada or a Notario Publico in Latin America, a notary public in the United States is not authorized to give legal advice of any kind.

Authenticate Duplicates

  • One function of a notary seal is to certify a document as being a bona fide, or true, copy of an original document. This can be important when submitting paperwork which must be authentic but when submitting the original document is unwise, such as with a lease or a car title. A notary seal verifies that the notary has inspected both the original and the duplicate side by side.

Verify Identity

  • A notary seal can can also verify the identity of a person who signs a document. Many documents, such as a power of attorney, must be certified by a notary before they are considered valid by law. The notary verifies the identity of the person or persons signing a document by checking a driver's license or other government issued identification before affixing his seal on the signed document.

Witness Signatures

  • A notary seal can also certify that a signature of a respondent in a civil matter was executed in the presence of a notary. For instance, in an uncontested divorce, the respondent (the party who did not actually file for divorce) can file an appearance which states that the respondent has agreed to the terms of the divorce. The signed affidavit substitutes for the respondent appearing in court in person. The appearance should bear a notary seal in order to be accepted by the court.

Considerations

  • As stated earlier, a notary is often required to be a legal resident of a state in which she has received her commission. She is also required to renew her commission on a regular basis. A notary can be employed by a company to perform services strictly for company employees or may be an independent officer of the state. The notary seal should only be used for documents which apply to the state in which the notary has received her commission.

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