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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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  1. It makes sense that one shouldn’t help a client draft their notary and that you need ID. Better safe than sorry!

    Comment by Medical Job — December 13, 2011 @ 5:27 pm

  2. Louisiana civil law notaries can and legally do draft documents.

    Comment by ArtG/KS — December 2, 2019 @ 3:17 pm

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