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June 22, 2018

How do you get a Power of Attorney Document?

I run a Notary directory, and people who hire Notaries often have Power of Attorney documents of various descriptions. It is important to understand that not all Power of Attorney documents were created equal and there are legal standards as well as preferences of the document custodians that need to be taken into consideration.

Legal Considerations
Legally, you probably need to consult an Attorney to figure out what rights to grant to another person (grantee) and under what circumstances and what legal language to grant such powers. I cannot assist with this because I am not an Attorney, and even if I were, I would probably not be practicing in your state.

Document Custodian Considerations
Document custodians are another party that you have to please with Powers of Attorney. A document custodian is the party that accepts your document. For example, if you get a POA for a particular bank, they will want a Banking Power of Attorney done their way which often means using their forms and not some form you got at a stationary store that looks equally good to you. The custodian has the right to choose what type of form they want in many instances.

Recording Documents
I am not an Attorney and do not know if/when/how/why Power of Attorney forms are recorded at your county’s county recorder. But, find out if you need to record it in their files ahead of time. There is normally a fee for this and it involves a visit to a government office, standing in line, not knowing what room to go to, etc.

Types of Powers of Attorney.
There are Medical Powers of Attorney, Durable Powers of Attorney where you can switch powers on an off sometimes, Banking Power of Attorney documents, and Limited Powers of Attorney as well. Living Wills are yet another specialized type of Medical Power of Attorney that deal specifically with what happens if the Grantor becomes incapacitated or is unable to make their own decisions while bedridden, etc.

Drafting of Documents
Normally, it is a good idea to consult with an Attorney before creating a Power of Attorney. Since it is a legal document, you cannot have any old person draft it for you. It should be an Attorney, or someone legally authorized to draft documents which rules out most Notary Public practitioners. Banks normally use their own forms, so ask the bank what form they require. Additionally, there are legal support firms who employ Legal Assistants, Paralegals, and a few who outsource low paying legal work to New Delhi where they do a very good job at a third of the cost. You can ask these types of agencies what they recommend and who is authorized to draft your document. Your best bet however, is an Attorney if you can afford it. Even if the Attorney doesn’t draft the document him/herself, at least he/she is supervising and taking responsibility for it which makes it potentially a lot safer for you to get a quality output.

Notarizing Documents
Any commissioned Notary Public can notarize your document in their state of commission. Please do not expect or ask the Notary to explain or understand any legal document. Non-Attorney Notaries may not give specific interpretations or explanations of documents other than general statements (in certain states) about what the document is generally about with no specifics mentioned. The Notary’s job is simply to check your ID, make sure you signed the document, the journal (required in most states, recommended by us in any state as that is your only written evidence of the notarial transaction), and fill out certificate forms that correspond to your document.

Legal Technical Terms
If you are creating a Power of Attorney, there is a lot of legalese which an Attorney can help you understand. The main terms are:

Grantor — the person giving power to another
Grantee — the person receiving special powers from the document
Agent — another name for the person who receives power and can complete tasks for the Grantor.
Principal — the main person signing the document who is the Grantor by definition.
Attorney in Fact — the most commonly used term for the agent / person receiving power of attorney.
Capacity — If you have special powers or a special position in a company, that can be described as a capacity. Being an Attorney in Fact or AIF is considered a capacity that can be indicated on certain Notary forms.

Signing in your capacity as Attorney in Fact.
There are eight ways that I have seen to sign as an Attorney in Fact. Please be advised that the particular verbiage is very particular and can be decided by an Attorney or document custodian. If they want it one way, and you sign with even one comma out of place, the entire document might be rejected and need to be resigned. Here are some common ways to sign, but ask your contact person before you sign anything, as the verbiage does matter.

John Smith, as Attorney in Fact for Sally Smith
Sally Smith, by John Smith, her Attorney in Fact
John Smith, POA for Sally Smith
John Smith, AIF for Sally Smith

Summary
In some of these variations, the signer signs the name of the other person (which I am not comfortable with) and then describes their capacity. In other variations, you sign your own name, and then indicate your capacity after a comma after your name. As always, I cannot and will not give legal advice, so, ask an Attorney before you have a Power of Attorney drafted, and before you sign the document and before you sign in your capacity as Attorney in Fact.

If you need a Mobile Notary Public, visit the advanced search page of 123notary.com and lookup by zip, city or county and find about 7000 Notaries Public nationwide, many of whom are very knowledgeable and experienced.

Good luck!

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November 2, 2016

How can I get a Spanish language document notarized?

How can I get a Spanish language document notarized?
Some states require that the Notary Public understand the contents of the document. If a document is in Spanish, then some states would require the Notary to be able to read the document in Spanish, etc. Other states require that the Notary speak the language of the signer so that they could have direct communication without the necessity of a translator.

How do I get a Spanish language document notarized?
How do you get a Spanish document notarized? On 123notary.com, you can find Notaries in any state that can notarize any type of document for you including foreign language documents. Just visit the advanced search page and look up by zip code.

California requires direct communication
In California, the Notary must be able to communicate directly with the signer. So, if the signer only speaks Spanish, please make sure your Notary speaks impeccable Spanish.

Immigration Questions
Notaries are not permitted to assist or advise in immigration matters unless they are specifically authorized to do so. Please direct your immigration questions to the proper authorities.

Notaries are generally not Attorneys
Please do not confuse the office of Notary Public with powers associated with Attorneys. In Latin America, a Notario Publico has an elevated position that is similar in many ways to being an Attorney, while in the United States, Notaries can only notarize documents, give Oaths, and not give legal advice. So, please direct your legal questions to a licensed Attorney.

Drafting Documents
Please do not rely on a Notary to draft your documents for you. Notaries are generally not authorized to draft legal documents or advise you on how to draft them. Please have a legal support center or Attorney draft your documents before calling a Notary.

Find a Notary on 123notary.com!
Just visit the advanced search page on 123notary.com and look up by city, county, or zip code. Then, use the Spanish language filter at the top of the search results to filter your results.

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December 13, 2011

Can a notary help draft documents?

Can a notary public help drafting documents?
 
Notaries are discouraged from engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. The definition of unauthorized practice of law differs from state to state.  However, as a general rule, assisting someone in drafting a document that will be used in court, or submitted to a judge, or used for any legal purpose would be unauthorized practice of law, or giving legal advice. A Florida notary should not draft any type of document for any client, whether the document is of a legal nature or not because rules are tighter there.  New York notaries should be on guard too as standards for unauthorized practice of law are enforced more stringently there. 
 
But, my client needs my help drafting this document
You need to tell the client that it is up to them and their attorney to draft their document, or to fill out their power of attorney form.  There are standardized power of attorney forms that are sold in office supply stores.  Notaries should not notarize a document with blanks in it, however, they should also not assist in filling in those blanks or even putting lines through the blanks.
 
What if I arrive at a job and the document hasn’t been written yet?
If you are a MOBILE NOTARY and you travel to homes, businesses, hospitals, etc., it is up to you to double check with your clients to make sure they have their documents all filled out and ready. You should make sure their identification is ready too.  Most states require identification not only for Acknowledgments, but also for Jurats too!  Don’t get in your car until the documents and identification documents are all in order. 
 
Can a notary witness a signature on draft documents?
A notary can witness a signature on any document if you like.  However, if you have a notary notarize a document which is going to have a new draft printed out after the fact, the NEW version of the document would have to be notarized all over again if it is to be notarized.  You can not change wording or pages in a document which has already been notarized.

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December 1, 2011

Can a Georgia notary notarize a Florida property document?

Can a Georgia notary notarize a Florida property document?

Loan signings are common across the United States.  Any notary in any state can notarize almost any document within the confines of their state, but the document can be from out of state, or out of the country.  Notaries should refrain from notarizing copies of vital records, and Wills are generally avoided in many states as well.  Just as long as a Georgia Notary has their two feet in Georgia, it is okay to notarize a Florida document, or a loan signing for a property in Florida. 
 
Non-attorney Georgia Notaries are prohibited from doing loan signings for properties in Georgia, but, I don’t know any restriction for them as far as notarizing loan documents (packages that generally include Deeds of Trust, Mortgages, Grant Deeds, Quit Claim Deeds, Notes, Notice of Right to Cancel, etc.) that are from Florida, or some other state.
 
A Florida notary can also notarize documents that are to be recorded out of state.
 
One critical piece of information is that the county recorder in the state that a document is going to be recorded — have standards.  They might insist on their state’s notary wording to be on the notary certificate.  They can reject a document if the notary wording is not up to their standards, or if there is a smudgy seal, etc.  That is the job of the person who prepares the documents, and not the responsibility of the notary. A Georgia notary public, or any notary for that matter is allowed to make legal decisions for their clients which includes what type of wording to use, document drafting, or choosing the type of notarization to do, i.e. acknowledgment, jurat, protest, etc.

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February 12, 2019

Parties involved in a Power of Attorney

In a Power of Attorney there are a handful of parties that could be involved.

Attorney
This is the person who hopefully is supervising you in the Power of Attorney creation, drafting and notarizing process. It is not recommended to engage in this process without professional leadership from an Attorney specializing in whatever you are doing.

Grantor
The Grantor is the person giving powers to someone else. He is also called the Principal signer.

Principal
The Principal is the entity signing the Power of Attorney to give powers to another party namely the Grantee, Agent or Attorney in Fact

Agent
The Agent is the party who has been given special powers by virtue of the fact that the Power of Attorney was signed

Attorney in Fact
This is a more formal term for Agent, or the person who receives rights, privileges or powers after the signing of a Power of Attorney

Grantee
The party once again who receives rights from the signing of a Power of Attorney who is only called a Grantee in the document itself but called an Attorney in fact or Agent in real life.

Notary Public
The party who notarizes the Power of Attorney. The Notary act most appropriate for this type of document would be an Acknowledgment.

Custodian
The party who holds on to the Power of Attorney is called a custodian. This might be a bank, financial bureau, county clerk, attorney, or other entity or entities. There might be more than one entity holding on to a Power of Attorney.

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January 23, 2019

What are Mobile Notary Fees?

The states decide what a Notary can charge for Notary services, but few states have rules for what a Mobile Notary or Traveling Notary can charge for mobile services and waiting time.

Notaries in most states (NV & MD have restrictions I’ve heard) can charge whatever they want for Mobile Notary Fees. There are many factors that determine a Notary’s fees. I will list these factors below. Rates generally range from $20 to $50 for mobile fees plus notary fees which differ by the state.

Experience
Notaries with experience typically set their rates higher. The fee depends on how desperate or arrogant they are. Rates can really vary, so shop around. But, realize that getting the best rate is not always the best idea because knowledge and experience count. Also note, that years of experience rarely translate into knowledge. Most Notaries are show offs and typically brag about how many years they have been doing this job. But, when you drill them on knowledge, you might find out they have about the same knowledge as someone doing this for two years who reads Notary tutorials and handbooks regularly. A word to the wise!

Distance
Notaries charge for distance. Some calculate distance based on miles, while others focus more on how long it will take. Others charge by what county you are in or what particular area you are in. It will save you money if you find someone close.

Time of Day
If you hire a Notary during the day, there are more Notaries operating, and the price is lower. If you want a Notary to go to a hospital at 3am, you might be looking at paying double or triple the normal fee. Sometimes the Notaries who offer 24 hour service will yell at you and ask, “Why are you calling me so late? Do you have any idea what time it is?”

Type of Job
If the job is a document signing or loan signing the price will be more of a standard price. Most Notaries do loan signings for $70 to $110 unless they consider themselves to be fancy in which case the price would be $125 to $175. Hospital and Jail jobs cost more because there is more involved, more legal risk, more waiting time, and the clients are normally more difficult. Additionally, since fewer Notaries will do hospital and jail signings, the price by default goes up.

Printing
If the Notary needs to print or fax anything the price goes up.

Waiting Time
If you keep an experienced Notary waiting, they will normally want to get some sort of compensation for their time. Some have a set rate while others have a very foggy idea of what to do if you keep them waiting. Try to be prepared so you don’t keep anyone waiting.

Legal Advice
Please do not ask a Notary for legal advice. They are not authorized to give any, and you will not get good information from a notary about legal matters anyway unless they are an Attorney Notary. Ask an Attorney who is competent and specializes in whatever your question is.

Document Drafting
Ask an Attorney where to get your document drafted and what terms to put in it. Notaries should not help in drafting documents unless they are legally authorized to do so which is rare.

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September 6, 2018

UPL — Unauthorized Practice of Law in the Notary Profession

Unauthorized practice of law… what does this phrase really mean? The sad truth is that this concept is widely misunderstood, and differs from state to state. The definition of UPL (not UPS) is generally arbitrary and is often set by bar associations set on protecting the financial interests of their Attorneys who don’t want any unnecessary competition in the legal services field. So, one could say that Attorneys as a group are engaged in a form of corruption and using the law to enforce standards that serve no purpose other than to eliminate competition (sounds like the mafia). Instead of burying you in cement, a bar association can investigate a person suspected of UPL, and sue them or perhaps fine them for huge mounts of money leaving the Notary essentially financially broken.

Case Study
One of the Notaries listed on our site lost or almost lost (forgot the story as it was from a decade or more ago) $40,000 for doing a loan signing in a state where Notaries are not allowed to do such things.

Attorney States
In certain states that we refer to as Attorney States, only Attorneys are allowed to do loan signings. The premise is that by engaging in the facilitation of a loan signing, that you are making an unstated assertion that you have the same knowledge as a Mortgage Broker, Lender or Attorney and that you can explain the documents. This is simply not true. When a Notary goes to a loan signing, some Notaries do not explain any terms or documents while some do. In my opinion you should catch a Notary in the act explaining a legal term and then bust them. But, merely by facilitating the signing a loan in an Attorney state, a Notary can get busted.

States where Notaries are not supposed to facilitate the signing of loans include Georgia, South Carolina, Massachusetts and perhaps others. This information could be outdated and the interpretation of the rules is far beyond my capacity. However, many Notaries in all of these states advertise on 123notary claiming that they do signings. However, I have heard that they typically don’t do signings for properties that are in their state, but only for out of state properties. I have heard that this is still illegal, but I guess people are not getting caught. My word of advice is to consult an Attorney before doing something that could get you in trouble.

Notary unauthorized practice of law
As a general rule, drafting a legal document, giving legal advice, giving advice about a court case, giving advice about how to draft a legal document, or helping to interpret a legal document might be construed as unauthorized practice of law. However, I am not an Attorney and cannot say with any certainty or authority what constitutes UPL in any state. I am just relaying to you what I have read over the years. Additionally, explaining the terms of a loan or what certain mortgage terms mean might be considered UPL as well – once again, I am not sure, but you can ask an Attorney if you really want a definitive answer.

Choosing the Notary Act
As a Notary Public, it is the choice of the client or signer which type of Notary act they want. The Notary has the right to explain the various Notary acts to them and the rules that apply, but the Notary cannot choose for them. Under many circumstances there might only be one particular Notary act that the Notary would legally be able to perform. In such a case, the Notary should explain the circumstances, how to change the circumstances and ask if the signer wants to proceed as is.

It is common for Notaries while administering Jurats to automatically perform an Affirmation because they are afraid to offend people by administering an Oath. First of all the Notary is required to give the signer a choice as to which Notary act they want to have performed. Second, many people might be offended by Affirmations more than by Oaths. However, I can state with definitiveness that dogs prefer Affirmations.

Drawing in a Signature Line
It used to be common in loan signings for a document to have no signature line, yet have an instruction that it must be notarized. You cannot notarize a document without a signature, and how can you sign without a signature line? If the borrower draws in the line, that is their business, but if the Notary does it, are they practicing law?

Oregon Standards
I have heard that in Oregon, a Notary may not cross anything out on a Notary certificate, nor may they attach a new Notary certificate. But actions would be considered practicing law there as far a I know in my layperson capacity.

Summary
Unauthorized Practice of Law is a crime and is a very wishy-washy state-specific convoluted subject. Please ask an Attorney for a professional opinion on this subject if you are at all concerned.

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April 25, 2018

Preparing to Sign a Last Will and Testament

Filed under: Other Guest Bloggers,Technical & Legal — admin @ 11:11 am

Preparing to Sign a Last Will and Testament

One of the most important documents that a person signs during the course of a lifetime is his or her last will and testament. Of course, ensuring that a last will and testament is drafted properly is crucial. However, ensuring that a last will and testament is valid does not end when the instrument has been written. The manner in which the document is signed is vital to its ultimate validity.

State Laws Govern Drafting and Signing a Last Will and Testament

Each individual state has its own laws as they pertain to the drafting and signing of a last will and testament. With that said, many states utilize a derivation of what is known as the Uniform Probate Code. In other words, although there are some minor differences from one state to another when it comes to a will, there is a great deal of commonality in the laws about wills across the United States.

In order to make certain that a last will and testament is appropriately drafted and properly executed, a person does need to check the specific laws of the state in which the will is signed. This is the only way in which compliance with the law can be confirmed.

The Role of a Notary Public at a Will Signing

A notary public plays a pivotal role in the execution or signing of a last will and testament. One of the power bestowed upon a notary public is the ability to administer oaths and confirm information in certain situations. For example, at the time of the signing of a last will and testament, a notary public is charged with confirming a number of factors before a person signs the instrument.

First, a notary public is required to confirm that the person about to sign his or her last will and testament understands what is contained in the instrument. A notary public doesn’t quiz the signer on the contents of the instrument. Rather, a notary public requires the signer to affirm that he or she has read the instrument and understands its contents.

Second, a notary public must concern that based on his or her reading of a last will and testament that the instrument does what the signer intends. In other words, the signer must affirm that the last will and testament deals with matters associated with his or her estate in the manner in which he or she intents and desires.

Third, a notary must ascertain that the signer of a last will and testament is of sound mind and body at the time of the execution of the instrument.

Finally, when the person signing a last will and testament executes the document, a notary public verifies the signature and affixes the seal of his or her office to the instrument.

Witnesses at a Will Signing

The laws of all states mandate that witnesses be present at the execution of a last will and testament. The laws do differ as to how many witnesses must be on hand at the signing of a last will and testament.

The witnesses are present to confirm that the person executing a last will and testament understands what he or she is doing, that he or she is signing the will as a free and voluntary act, and that the signer is of sound mind and body.

The witnesses can end up playing a pivotal role should the day ever come that a last will and testament is being challenged in some manner. For example, the witnesses might be called upon to testify in court if a challenge is made to the will after the signer of the instrument dies. The witnesses might be called upon to testify that the signer was of sound mind and body when the last will and testament was executed.

At the time of the execution of a last will and testament, a notary ensures that the witnesses understand their roles. The witnesses sign the instrument, after the signer of the will itself completes that task. A notary typically verifies the signatures of the witnesses to the last will and testament as well.

Generally speaking, a last will and testament usually is signed in the office of the attorney that drafted the instrument in the first instance. More often than not, the attorney will have a notary public available from his or her own staff. There are rare situations in which a notary public is called in from the outside to witness and notarize the signing of a last will and testament.

 
Jessica Kane is a professional blogger who focuses on personal finance and other money matters. She currently writes for Checkworks.com, where you can get personal checks and business checks.

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November 5, 2016

Affidavit of Citizenship

Filed under: Affidavits,Popular on Facebook (some) — Tags: — admin @ 9:52 am

What is an Affidavit of Citizenship?
The Affidavit of Citizenship is a common legal form that is required by immigration services in some cases. Many people need to get an Affidavit of Citizenship Notarized. This document is normally notarized using the Notary act called a Jurat which requires a sworn oath.

Terminology:

Jurat — a type of Notarization that involves a Sworn Oath where the Notary must sign before the Notary Public.
Affiant — the person or individual who swears under Oath perhaps before a Judge or Notary Public.
Affirmation — For those who do not believe in swearing under Oath, many states allow them to Affirm that information is correct while under Oath.
Oath — a solemn Notary act where the signer (who is also the Affiant) raises their right hand and swears under Oath to the truthfulness of the document, or just makes up their own Oath wording for a particular official purpose or commission.
Affidavit — a document (perhaps a legal document) which requires an Affiant to swear under Oath before a Notary to have it notarized.

Drafting an Affidavit of Citizenship
Most Notaries are not authorized to draft legal documents. It is prudent to contact an Attorney or or someone authorized to draft documents. If you appear before a Notary and ask for a notarized Affidavit of Citizenship, the Notary will ask you to present the document to him/her. If you don’t have a document and expect the Notary to write it, you are wasting the Notary’s time. It might not even be legal for a Notary to draft such a document as they are not an Attorney in most cases. So, have a professional draft up a quick document for you, perhaps at a low-cost legal center. After the document is complete — then contact a notary.

Notarizing an Affidavit of Citizenship
A sample wording for an Affidavit of Citizenship might be —

“I, Joe Smith solemnly swear that I am a citizen of the United States of America, so help me God.”
Signature of Affiant _____________________

The Notary could attach a Jurat certificate to the document with this statement. The Notary would ask the signer to raise his/her right hand and swear under Oath to the truthfulness of the statement. Then the Notary would fill in the Jurat form, sign it, and stamp it with his/her official Notary Seal. The Notary needs to be paid whatever the state regulated Notary fee is for a Jurat. Additionally, many Notaries engage in traveling Notary work and should be paid a travel fee, plus waiting time if applicable.

Can the Affidavit of Support be in Spanish?
Official legal documents filed in the United States should be written in English unless you have written permission to write it in Spanish or another language.

Giving Legal Advice
A non-Attorney may not give legal advice. Most Notaries are not Attorneys and therefore may not give legal advice. Additionally, Notaries Public are not authorized to assist in the immigration process or give advice regarding immigration. If you have a legal quesiton or an immigration question, do not ask a Notary, rather, ask an authorized person such as an immigration official, Attorney, or perhaps someone authorized in a legal support profession at a law office if applicable.

What are some other notarized immigration documents or regular documents?
The Affidavit of Support is another commonly notarized immigration document. It states that a particular individual will take care of the sponsored individual in financial and other ways. Basically, a family member can attempt to assist another family member enter the United States by signing an Affidavit of Support. In addition to immigration documents, it is common for Notaries to notarize permission for minors to travel outside of the United States with an adult. Deeds, contracts, Power of Attorney, other types of Affidavits, Name Affidavits, Titles, and other types of documents are regularly notarized as well.

Where can I find a Notary to notarize my Affidavit of Support?
Right here on 123notary.com’s advanced search page! You can find a Spanish speaking Notary by using the language filter on the upper right corner of the search results after you have searched by zip code.

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October 23, 2016

Where can I find a Japanese speaking Notary?

How can I find a Japanese speaking Notary?
How do I find a Japanese speaking Notary?
123notary.com has many bilingual Notaries on file, many of whom speak Japanese. Please be advised that we have many more Spanish speaking Notaries than Japanese speaking Notaries. However, if you look up a Notary by zip code on our advanced search page and then use the language filter at the top right of the page, you can see if there are any Japanese speaking Notaries in the area.

How can I get a Japanese language document notarized?
Some states require that the Notary Public understand the contents of the document. If a document is in Japanese, then some states would require the Notary to be able to read the document in Japanese, etc. Other states require that the Notary speak the language of the signer so that they could have direct communication without the necessity of a translator.

How do I get a Japanese language document notarized?
How do you get a Japanese document notarized? On 123notary.com, you can find Notaries in any state that can notarize any type of document for you including foreign language documents. Just visit the advanced search page and look up by zip code.

California requires direct communication
In California, the Notary must be able to communicate directly with the signer. So, if the signer only speaks Japanese, please make sure your Notary speaks impeccable Japanese.

Immigration Questions
Notaries are not permitted to assist or advise in immigration matters unless they are specifically authorized to do so. Please direct your immigration questions to the proper authorities.

Notaries are generally not Attorneys
Please do not confuse the office of Notary Public with powers associated with Attorneys. In Latin America, a Notario Publico has an elevated position that is similar in many ways to being an Attorney, while in the United States, Notaries can only notarize documents, give Oaths, and not give legal advice. So, please direct your legal questions to a licensed Attorney.

Drafting Documents
Please do not rely on a Notary to draft your documents for you. Notaries are generally not authorized to draft legal documents or advise you on how to draft them. Please have a legal support center or Attorney draft your documents before calling a Notary.

Find a Notary on 123notary.com!
Just visit the advanced search page on 123notary.com and look up by city, county, or zip code. Then, use the language filter at the top right of the search results to filter your results.

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