Adding your signature to a contract is normally the last step in making it legally binding. Once you sign on the dotted line, the terms of the agreement become enforceable, but all signatures are not created equal and some methods of signing documents don’t carry as much weight as others.
Certain contracts demand that a notary public be present and oversee the proceedings while you and anyone else involved are signing the contract.
Determining the proper way to sign a document can be confusing. To help you execute your contract with confidence, we have answered a few questions that a lot of people have regarding notaries.
What Is a Notary Public?
A notary public is an official, appointed by the state government, who has been approved to notarize documents. When providing their services, a notary has to be physically present so they can confirm the identities of the people involved in the contract by verifying each person’s identification and making sure that the signatories fully comprehend the contract and its meaning.
What Does a Notary Public Do?
Notary publics are required to be unbiased, professional, and to demonstrate sound judgment. As representatives of California, they have to be honest and accountable and not allow any personal interests to get in the way of their duties.
A notary public is someone who:
- Supervises the people signing the contract
- Validates the contract
- Verbally verifies that everybody knows the terms of the agreement
- Affixes a stamp or seal of approval on the signed contract to confirm that it was officially notarized
Notary publics also engage in a host of other responsibilities in addition to approving contracts, like swearing affirmations and oaths to properly verify that the contract is valid, witnessing the signing by the involved parties, authenticating copies of contracts, and a lot more.
A notary is allowed to withhold their services in the event that they suspect deception or fraudulent behavior or if they are simply uncertain of the validity of a signer’s identity. A notary may also decline to notarize any contract should they have reason to suppose that one of the people involved has been pressured or if either person does not seem to understand the contract.
Is a Notary Public Expensive?
How much a notary public will charge you hinges mainly on the document you are trying to get notarized, the notary you select, and the state in which the contract is being executed. Some banks, however, offer notary services to their clients at no cost.
Where Would I Find a Notary Public?
If your bank does not offer this service, or you do not have a bank, you should be able to find a notary at any of the following places:
- Registry offices
- City or town hall
- County Courthouse
- Shipping and printing stores
- Directories of local notaries can be found online
- Military bases
- University or college campuses
Signing a legal document automatically makes the document enforceable, whether it’s a purchase, a separation of assets, or a loan. To deter perjury and fraud, notaries witness the signing of a contract and verify the identity of each signatory.
If you are trying to determine whether or not you need to have a contract or other document notarized, you need to speak with an experienced business contract attorney like the ones here at Leiva Law Firm.
Schedule your appointment today by calling the offices of our California attorneys at (818) 703-1777. We speak both English and Spanish.