Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Notary Public?
The court defines a Notary Public as a "Public Ministerial Officer", an agent for the state, and a witness of the notarial writing and signatures. A Notary Public is an honest, moral, and responsible member of society. They are APPOINTED by the office of the Secretary of State to witness by an official seal and written Acknowledgement, or Jurat, the signing of documents as well as administer oaths.
Why do you need documents notarized?
To deter fraud. An impartial witness (the notary) ensures that the signer of the documents is indeed who they say they are and not imposters. The notary also makes sure the signers have entered into agreements knowingly and willingly.
Can you prepare a document for me?
Unfortunately, no. Only a Notary who is also an attorney can prepare documents, answer legal questions or act as a legal advisor for a client. The 2019 California Notary Handbook from the Secretary of State reads "California notaries public are prohibited from performing any duties that may be construed as the practice of law. Among the acts which constitute the practice of law are the preparation, drafting, or selection or determination of the kind of any legal document, or giving advice in relation to any legal documents or matters.
I need a Power of Attorney or other form. Can you provide this form -- other notaries who I have used in the past have provided forms for me.
It is illegal for a Notary to do so as this is considered a UPL (unauthorized practice of law) and is a crime. The 2019 California Notary Handbook from the Secretary of State reads "California notaries public are prohibited from performing any duties that may be construed as the practice of law. Among the acts which constitute the practice of law are the preparation, drafting, or selection or determination of the kind of any legal document, or giving advice in relation to any legal documents or matters.
What are acceptable forms of Identification?
All identification cards must be ORIGINAL, current or issued within the last 5 years, contain a photo, physical description, signature, and serial number. Identification procedures are mandated by the California Secretary of State. The following forms of identification are acceptable:
• Driver's License (California or other state-issued)
• U.S. Military ID card (the Common Access Card CAC is not acceptable.)
• California or other state-issued Identification Card
• United States Passport
• Foreign Passports Stamped by U.S. Customs
• Canada & Mexico Driver’s License
Unacceptable identification documents include, but not limited to:
* Social Security Card * Temporary Driver's License * Extension to Driver's License * Temporary Driver's Permit
* Matrícula Consular de Alta Seguridad (MCAS) - Consular Identification Card
The name you will be signing on the document must match or be "SHORTER THAN" the name on your ID. An ID in your maiden name along with a marriage license evidencing your married name is not acceptable.
CORRECT ID: Document Signature = John Smith (SHORTER THAN) ID = John Adam Smith
What if I don't have an acceptable ID?
If the identification of a signer cannot be based on the notary's personal knowledge of the signer or proper ID, a notary may rely on the oath of two credible identifying witnesses that are unknown to the notary. The two credible witnesses will need to be present and swear to the signer's identity. They must have proper ID, age 18 or older, know the signer by the name on the document, is not named in the document nor have a financial interest in the transaction described in the document.
What do I need before my appointment with a Notary?
COMPLETELY FILL IN ALL BLANK SPACES IN THE DOCUMENT(S) BEFORE I ARRIVE, BUT DO NOT SIGN! I cannot notarize incomplete documents!
If you have questions about how to complete the document, contact the person who drafted or requested the document. A Notary Public is unable to provide legal advice or assistance in the drafting and/or completion of documents. Upon arrival, if the document is incomplete, a waiting fee may apply while I wait for the document to be filled out.
Every signer must physically appear, be coherent and present acceptable ID at the time of notarization. IDENTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS - SEE BELOW
Original documents must be presented for all Copy Certification. Vital records (birth, death and marriage) cannot be notarized.
Know which Notary Certificate you need - an acknowledgment or jurat. I cannot give advice on which one to use. I can show you both upon arrival.
I'm unable to physically sign the document(s). Can someone sign my name on my behalf?
If unable to write signature and if you have a Valid ID, than two “disinterested” witnesses need to be present and be witnesses on the document. One witness should write the person’s name next to the person’s mark and then the witness should sign his or her name as a witness. The witnesses are only verifying that they witnessed the individual make his or her mark on the document.