A notary public is a public official appointed by the California Secretary of State to be an impartial witness in the signing of important documents and to administer oaths and affirmations. Notaries Public must pass an examination given by the State and pass a background check. Beginning in 2005, notaries must also complete six hours of training before receiving their commission and for renewing notaries, must complete three hours of training.
A certified signing agent is a notary public with experience in conducting real estate loan signings. A certified signing agent has passed an examination administered by an industry-recognized entity. However, there are no federal, state, or local statutes that designate what "certification" requires or means.
To prevent fraud. A notary public will ensure that the signer of a document is who they claim to be. It is also important for the Notary to be sure that the signer is aware of and understands what he/she is signing and is free from any coercion.
NO. A notary public must verify the identity of the signer but is not responsible for the contents of the document. The signers of the document are responsible for the contents of the document and, in the case of a Jurat, swear or affirm to the truthfulness of the document.
Not necessarily. A document requiring an acknowledgment does not need to be signed in front of the notary. The signer must confirm to the notary that he/she did freely sign the document. A jurat, on the other hand, DOES need to be signed before the notary. A jurat will contain the wording "subscribed (signed) and sworn to before me. . ." When in doubt, wait and sign the document before the notary.
No, the document should be completed before notarization. The signer can line through the blank areas or enter N/A. This will prevent fraudulent information from being entered on the documents at a later time.
Yes, if the document has an original signature. Copied or faxed signatures cannot be notarized. If you have a document on glossy fax paper (not bond), the document should be copied and then the photocopy can be notarized. The wording on glossy paper will fade over time and many public recorders will not accept those documents.
Last wills in California are generally not notarized but are witnessed by two people.