There is no denying that notarization can be inconvenient. Of course you can easily search by zip code to find a nearby mobile notary on 123notary.com that will go to you. But, even if the process is very convenient; the question remains why bother?
Although some “shorty” notary sections contain only “sworn to before me”; one that meets the complete guidelines of the various states contains much more information. Some contracts or documents may be quite legal in one state but prohibited in a different state. A proper notarization contains a Venue that states where the notarization took place. The venue always represents where the oath was given and notary signature was affixed. It has nothing to do with the content of the document; and, at times, may not reflect where you signed the document.
Almost all notary sections contain the date the document was notarized. Consider a hand written IOU that says the payment is due in 90 days, but does not mention the start date. The notary section’s date is always the date that the notary signed. Attorneys may argue many details, but the notarization date is the date that the parties were given the oath. Lacking any other date, the notarization date would usually be considered the effective date of the document.
Squiggle, squiggle; handwriting is often unreadable. A great notary section will mention by name the person(s) who were notarized, generally in clearly printed block letters. Care must be taken by the notary, when there are several affiants; to mention only those that were given the oath.
Speaking of oath, many do not realize that a sworn statement before a notary carries exactly the same legal standing as testimony in a court of law. The Bailiff “swears in” the witness, exactly the same as the notary oath. False statements on notarized documents are equivalent to lies in the witness stand – the crime of perjury. Take notarized documents seriously!
Back to Why have a signature notarized. In addition to recording in a uniform format the above information; the notary determines the identity of the affiant. Not to an absolute certainty, but by inspecting “government issued photo ID”. A good forgery can fool anyone who is not an expert at examining the specific ID. However, notaries inspect IDs closely, and if there is any evidence of tampering – they will reject the ID. It is the chief duty of the notary to inspect and approve the ID presented and record that acceptance by placing a notary seal and signature on the document.
The “humble notary” is actually a sworn officer (we take an oath to follow the notary laws) of the (in New York) Department of State. As a commissioned officer, we have the legal right, and often the legal obligation, to confirm the identity of the person signing the document. Being impartial, our stamp and signature are accepted as substantiation that the named person did indeed sign.
Information is gathered and recorded, IDs are checked and the notary signs and stamps. Notarization does not make a document valid, legal, binding, or truthful. Those aspects of the document are generally issues for litigation. A notarized false statement remains exactly that, the notarization does not have any relationship to the contents of the document. It does allow the document to be entered in evidence in a court. It makes forgery more difficult, but not impossible. Though not always required, it’s unlikely an unnecessary notarization will void a document.
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