This article deals with Oaths in general as well as how Oaths are significant in the Notary Profession.
What is an Oath?
An Oath is a solemn and formal statement of fact or promise that is worded in a sacred or official way. An Oath is a formalized vow normally taken before others in a formal situation.
Types of Oaths
It is common for people to take an Oath or swear under Oath when becoming a public official which would be called being sworn into office. People also take Oaths when they get married or when they are sworn into court as a defendant, plaintiff, Attorney, witness or juror. People take an Oath of citizenship when becoming a citizen. Those in the medical profession take a hippocratic Oath. But, zookeepers do not need to take a rhinocratic Oath contrary to popular belief.
It is common in the United States for people to raise their right hand with their palm facing forward at the beginning of an Oath proceeding. Different parts of the world might have different hand gestures or no hand gestures.
Some People Refuse Oaths
Some Christians refuse to swear under Oath as they always tell the truth (or claim to.) They seem to not understand that the purpose of the Oath is not to prove to themselves that they are telling the truth, but to impress upon others that they are — while the others might not have the same opinion as to the integrity of the affiant. The Notary profession now allows for Affirmations instead of Oaths for those religious people who don’t believe in oaths.
An Affirmation is a formal statement that currently carries the same and identical weight and meaning as an Oath. A Notary Public can swear someone in using an Affirmation instead of an Oath merely by substituting verbiage. Instead of saying, “Do you solemnly swear that this document is true and correct?” you could say, “Do you solemnly affirm that this document is true and correct?”
An affiant is the person who swears under Oath typically in a written statement called an Affidavit.
An Affidavit is a written document, often a legal document where the Affiant swears before a Notary Public as to the truthfulness of the document.
A Jurat is an official Notary act where the affiant swears under Oath to the truthfulness of a written statement or document. Some Jurats have handwritten statements written by the signer who is also the affiant. Others are drafted up by an Attorney, government or professional agency.
Jurats are not the only Notary act that can have an Oath. Notaries use Oaths in many aspects of their work. Notaries take an Oath of Office to get sworn into duty when their commission begins. Notaries routinely swear in Credible Witnesses who are used to identify a signer who doesn’t have identification. Notaries swear in Subscribing Witnesses as well who witness people signing a document. There are also just plain Oaths that Notaries administer. The Oath might not be written or recorded. If Notary administers an Oath, they should indicate in their journal that they gave an Oath regarding a particular subject and have the Oath taker (affiant) sign the journal in that corresponding entry.
Acknowledgments with Oaths
Acknowledged signatures normally do not have Oaths, but they could have an accompanying Oath. Acknowledgments allow the signer to sign before they see the Notary Public. However, the Oath would have to be taken in the presence of a Notary Public.
Oaths in Mortgage Loan Signings
Mortgage loan signings normally contain several affidavits such as the Signature Affidavit which requires a sworn Oath. So, if you perform Loan Signings, be prepared to be an expert at the art of Oath giving.
If Physicians take a Hippocratic Oath, what type of profession would take a Rhinocratic Oath?
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Subscribing witnesses explained
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