What Is a Notary Public and Why Do We Need One?

In addition to being a lawyer, I am a Notary, as are my 2 staff members.  Why do we need 3 notaries in a small office?  What do they do in an estate planning practice in Tempe, Arizona?

The answers may surprise you.

As a Notary, I am granted a Commission from the Arizona Secretary of State to perform notarial acts in the State of Arizona.  My Commission is good for 4 years and may be renewed for additional 4 year periods upon Application and posting of Bond.

NOTARIAL ACTS:

There are 5 kinds of Notarial Acts:

  1. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS:  This is the most common form of notarization and is typically used for Deeds and other documents affecting real property, and also for many estate planning documents, powers of attorney, wills and trusts.  The Notary Public certifies that the signer personally appeared before the Notary, was positively identified by the Notary as the person who signed and acknowledged having signed the document pages, and that the signature was freely made for the purposes stated in the document. If the person signed in a representative capacity, that the person had authority to sign as the representative.The signer is NOT required to sign in the presence of the Notary for an acknowledgment.  However, if the document has been pre-signed, the signer must be in the Notary’s presence at the time the Notary performs the notarization to acknowledge the signature.

    IDENTITY must be proved by providing one or more of the following documents:

    • An unexpired driver’s license or identification card issued by a State or Territory of the United States.
    • An unexpired United States passport.
    • An unexpired identification card issued by any brank of the United States Armed Forces
    • An inmate identification card issued while the person is in custody, issued by the State Department of Corrections or County Sheriff’s Dept.

    In addition, for a real estate transaction, the following may be used:

    • A valid unexpired passport issued by a national government other than the United States accompanied by a valid unexpired VISA or other documentation issued by the United States government that is necessary to establish the individual’s legal presence in the United States.
    • Any other valid unexpired identification that is accepted by the United States Department of Homeland Security to establish an individual’s legal presence in the United States together with necessary supporting documents.

    UNACCEPTABLE I.D.

    You cannot use social security cards, credit cards, voter registration cards, or I.D. cards issued by private employers to establish your identity to a Notary.

    SIGNING OF NOTARY JOURNAL:

    The person signing must be over 18 and must sign the Notary Journal.  

    GROUNDS FOR REFUSAL TO NOTARIZE:

    The Notary will honor all lawful and reasonable requests to notarize for clients and non-clients.  We charge $10 to notarize for a non-client and 0 to notarize for a client.   We will refuse when

    • The signer is not present.
    • The Notary does not believe that the person understands what he or she is signing.
    • It appears that the person is not signing willingly.
    • The signer cannot produce satisfactory I.D.
    • The document has blanks or is not complete.
    • There is no notarial wording on the document.
    • The document in written in a language the Notary does not understand.
  2. COPY CERTIFICATION – attesting that a photocopy is a true, complete and correct copy of an original document.  This cannot be done if the document presented for copy certification is not an original.  The Notary will make the copy.  The person requesting must also be identified.  The Notary is prohibited from certifying copies of recordable documents such a Deeds.  Also the Notary cannot certify copies of public records such a birth or death certificates or marriage or divorce records.
  3. OATHS AND AFFIRMATIONS- The Notary may administer oaths and affirmations.  This is often done in connection with a JURAT or VERIFICATION.
  4. JURAT OR VERIFICATION: The Notary administers an oath and certifies that the signer personally appeared before the Notary, was positively identified and signed in the presence of the Notary.  The purpose of the JURAT is to compel truthfulness as if the statement was given in a Court of Law under penalty of perjury.  This may be used for an Affidavit or Verification of a pleading, such as a Complaint or Answer.  The signer is required to swear that the statement is true and is “subscribed and sworn to”.  The Jurat must be signed in the presence of the Notary.
  5. PROTESTS – A notary may be asked to protest a negotiable instrument for non-payment.  Failure to pay after presentment is call dishonor.  In Arizona, only notaries working as stockholders, directors, officers or employees may perform this rare task, which is not common due to the advent of modern electronic communication.  Our office will never perform this notarial act.

CONCLUSION:

As noted above, we offer notarial services at our Tempe office, both for our clients and for non-clients by appointment.  Please email, text or call us if you need to set a notarial appointment.

When we notarize Wills, we use self-proving documents and we will not only notarize them but also will witness the documents appropriately pursuant to Arizona law.  We hope this information has been helpful to you in understanding the Arizona notary laws and procedures as we understand them.

Very truly yours,

Douglas B. Price, Esq.

Your East Valley lawyer

Member, State Bar of Arizona


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