Understanding the Notary Glossary Understanding the Notary Glossary

Notary Glossary: Essential Guide to Notary Terms:

Notarization plays a crucial role in the legal, financial, and personal spheres by ensuring the authenticity and integrity of important documents. Whether you are a seasoned professional or new to the realm of notary glossary, understanding the terminology used in this field is essential.

It clarifies the vocabulary used by notary publics during notarization by demystifying the notary glossary.

What is Notarization?

Notarization is the process of having a Notary Public—a person appointed by the state to serve as an unbiased witness—perform official acts. Witnessing signatures, delivering oaths, and establishing jurors are among examples. These acts help deter fraud and ensure that documents are properly executed.

Commonly used Notary Term

Notary Glossary - Notary Term
Notary Glossary – Notary Term

Administer: This is where a notary conducts the formal process of an oath or affirmation. This is where the notary instructs a signer to swear or affirm that the information in a document is true, which is a crucial step in many notarial acts.

Administrative Penalty: This refers to a punishment, usually a fine, given to a notary public by a regulatory body for failing to comply with laws and regulations governing notarial acts. It’s a measure to ensure notaries adhere strictly to legal standards.

Affirmation: A solemn declaration made by a signer in the presence of a notary, used instead of an oath. It’s a notarial act where the signer promises the truthfulness of the document’s content without invoking a religious text, catering to those with secular beliefs.

Apostille: A form of certification provided under the Hague Apostille Convention that authenticates the seal and signature of a notary on a document for international use. It simplifies the process of recognizing public documents executed in one country by another country.

Attorney in Fact: A person granted the authority to act on behalf of another through a power of attorney document, which may need to be notarized. This role involves making decisions or signing documents for someone else and often requires notarization to ensure authenticity and prevent fraud.

Authentication: The process by which a notary public verifies the authenticity of a document or signature. In international contexts, authentication may also involve verifying the notary’s authority and seal for the document to be recognized abroad.

Awareness: Refers to the notary’s responsibility to ensure that a document signer is fully aware of the significance of the transaction and is signing voluntarily. Notaries must assess the signer’s understanding and willingness to sign, as part of their duty to prevent fraud and coercion.

Bond: A financial guarantee that notaries are often required to purchase before performing notarial acts. The bond protects against losses resulting from potential mistakes or misconduct by the notary, ensuring compensation for affected parties.

Capacity: The legal ability of a signer to understand the nature and effects of the document they are signing and to enter into a contract. Notaries must evaluate the capacity of signers to ensure they are competent and acting of their own free will.

Certificate: A document or statement provided by a notary after performing a notarial act, which details the specifics of the act, such as the date, the parties involved, and the type of notarization. It serves as proof that the notary has duly executed their duties.

Certificate Form: A standardized form used by notaries to record details of a notarial act. It includes pre-printed statements that the notary fills out, indicating the type of notarization performed and other relevant details, ensuring consistency and legality in notarial documentation.

Certificate of Authority: A certification that validates the seal and signature of a notary public, often required when documents notarized in one jurisdiction are to be used in another. It assures recipients that the notary was authorized to act.

Certificate of Prothonotary: A specific type of certification used in certain jurisdictions to authenticate the signature and seal of a notary public, especially for documents that will be used outside the state or country where the notarization took place.

Certified Copy: A copy of a document that a notary public has verified as a true and accurate reproduction of the original. Notaries may make or certify copies of certain documents, ensuring their authenticity for use in legal matters.

Chain Certification: A process involving multiple certifications to authenticate a document for use in another country, starting with notarization and followed by additional validations, such as from the state’s Secretary of State and possibly a foreign consulate or embassy.

Chain of Personal Knowledge: A basis upon which a notary can identify a document signer, relying on the notary’s familiarity with the individual. This method allows notaries to authenticate a signer’s identity without the need for formal identification documents, based on prior knowledge and interactions.

Civil Penalty: A fine or other punishment imposed on a notary for violating notarial laws or regulations, distinct from criminal penalties. It’s intended to enforce proper conduct and adherence to legal standards in notarization practices.

Combined Acknowledgment Certificate: A notarial certificate that combines elements of both an acknowledgment and a jurat, allowing a document signer to acknowledge signing the document and swear to its content in a single notarial act.

Commission: The official authorization granted by a state to an individual, allowing them to act as a notary public. The commission includes specific details such as the notary’s name, commission number, and the term of service, enabling them to perform notarial acts.

Copy Certification: A notarial act where a notary public certifies that a photocopy of a document is a true and accurate copy of the original. This is often required for legal records, contracts, and other important documents when the original cannot be submitted.

County Clerk: A local government official who may play a role in the notarization process by recording certain notarized documents, such as property deeds, or by providing apostille services for documents that will be used internationally.

County Recorder: An official responsible for maintaining public records, including notarized documents such as deeds, mortgages, and liens. The recorder ensures that these documents are properly filed and accessible for legal and public review.

Credible Identifying Witness: A person who knows the document signer and can vouch for their identity to the notary, used when the signer does not have acceptable identification. The witness helps the notary verify the signer’s identity, allowing the notarial act to proceed.

Custodian or Document Custodian: The person in possession of a document who presents it for notarization. In the context of notarization, the custodian may need to attest to the authenticity of the document or provide additional information required for the notarial act.

Deed: A legal document representing the transfer of ownership of real property, which often requires notarization to be legally binding. The notary witnesses the signing of the deed, ensuring that the parties involved are properly identified and acting willingly.

Deposition: A written statement of a witness’s testimony, taken under oath before a notary public outside of court. Notaries administer the oath to the witness and certify the deposition, making it a part of the legal record.

Disqualifying Interest: A situation where a notary has a personal or financial interest in the document being notarized, which could compromise their impartiality. Notaries must avoid notarizing documents where they have a disqualifying interest to maintain the integrity of the notarial act.

Embosser Seal: A tool used by notaries to create a raised seal on a document, indicating that it has been officially notarized. The embossed seal adds a layer of security and authenticity to the document, deterring tampering and fraud.

False Certificate: Issuing a document that a notary knows contains untrue statements, violating legal and ethical standards, and potentially leading to legal consequences.

Guardian: A person legally appointed to manage the affairs of another, often due to incapacity or minority, requiring notarization for certain legal documents.

Hague Convention: An international treaty simplifying the legalization of documents for use abroad, notably through the Apostille certification, affecting notarization for international use.

Identification Document (ID Card): A government-issued card with a photo and personal details, used by notaries to verify the identity of individuals signing documents.

Immigration Forms Specialist (IFS): A professional trained to assist individuals in completing immigration forms, requiring a clear understanding of notarization laws to avoid unauthorized legal advice.

Impartiality: The principle that notaries must adhere to, ensuring they act without bias or personal interest, and maintaining fairness in all notarial acts.

Impartial Witness: Someone with no stake in a document’s outcome, witnessing signings to ensure integrity, often required in notarizations to prevent fraud.

Inking Seal: A stamp used by notaries to mark documents, providing a visible indication of the notarization, including the notary’s name, commission number, and state.

Journal Entry: A record made by a notary in their official journal for each notarial act, detailing the date, type of act, and parties involved.

Journal of Notary Acts: A detailed log maintained by notaries journal, recording all notarizations performed, serving as an official record and tool for accountability.

Jurat: A notarial certification confirming that a document signer swore to the truthfulness of the document’s contents under oath or affirmation before the notary jurat.

Jurisdiction: The legal authority granted to a notary to perform notarial acts within a specific geographic area, defined by state or national boundaries.

Living Will: A legal document specifying a person’s wishes regarding medical treatment if they become unable to communicate, often requiring notarization to ensure validity.

Long-Form Certificate: A detailed notarial certificate that fully describes the notarial act, including the location, date, and parties involved, providing a comprehensive documentation certificate of the notarization.

L.S. (Locus Sigilli): Latin for “place of the seal,” indicating where a notary’s seal should be affixed on a document. It’s a traditional notation used to specify the location for the notary’s stamp or embosser, ensuring that the document is properly marked as notarized.

Marriage: In some jurisdictions, notaries are authorized to perform marriage ceremonies. This involves officiating the union of two people as spouses, ensuring that the marriage complies with state laws, and often includes notarizing the marriage certificate to legally document the event.

Ministerial Official: A notary public acts as a ministerial official, meaning they perform duties according to prescribed laws and rules without exercising personal judgment or discretion. Their role is to follow state notary laws strictly, ensuring the integrity and legality of notarial acts.

Mobile Notary: A notary public who travels to the client’s location to perform notarial acts, offering convenience for document signings at homes, hospitals, or businesses.

Nondriver’s ID: A form of identification issued by most states to individuals who do not have a driver’s license, such as juveniles or the elderly. Notaries may accept nondriver’s IDs as valid identification for verifying a signer’s identity during notarization.

Notary Acts, Notarizations: These are the official acts performed by a notary public, such as witnessing signatures, administering oaths, and making jurats. Notarizations ensure that documents are signed voluntarily and that signers are who they claim to be, thereby preventing fraud.

Notary Misconduct: This term refers to any action by a notary that violates the laws or regulations governing notarial acts, including negligence, fraud, or failure to follow proper notarization procedures. Misconduct can lead to administrative penalties, revocation of the notary’s commission, or legal action.

Notary Public: An individual appointed by the state to serve as an impartial witness to document signing, administer oaths, and perform other acts authorized by law. Notaries help deter fraud and ensure that documents are properly executed.

Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibility: A set of guidelines developed to provide ethical and procedural standards for notaries. This code helps notaries conduct their duties with integrity, impartiality, and professionalism, ensuring public trust in notarial acts.

Notary Public Record Book: Another term for the Journal of Notary Acts, where notaries record details of every notarization performed, as required by law in many jurisdictions.

Oath: A solemn promise, often invoking a divine witness, regarding one’s future action or behavior. In notarization, a notary administers an oath to a signer or a witness, requiring them to swear to the truthfulness of the document’s contents or their testimony.

Oath of Office: A pledge taken by notaries upon receiving their commission, promising to perform their duties faithfully and according to law. This oath underscores the notary’s commitment to acting impartially and with integrity.

Online Notarization: The process of notarizing documents remotely using digital tools and video conferencing, as permitted by law in some jurisdictions.

Personal Knowledge: A basis for identifying a document signer, where the notary has sufficient familiarity with the person through interactions over time.

Principal: The individual whose signature is being notarized, is directly involved in the transaction or document.

Public Trust: The confidence placed in notaries by the public and the government, based on the expectation that notaries will act with integrity and impartiality.

Remote Online Notarization (RON): A form of remote online notarization where the notary and signer interact via a secure digital platform, allowing for document signing and notarization over the Internet.

Personal Appearance: The requirement that a signer physically appear before the notary at the time of notarization. This ensures that the notary can verify the signer’s identity, and assess their capacity and willingness to sign and administer oaths or affirmations as needed.

Personal Knowledge: A basis for identifying a signer, where the notary has sufficient familiarity with the person through previous interactions. This allows the notary to verify the signer’s identity without relying solely on identification documents.

Power of Attorney: A legal document authorizing one person (the agent or attorney-in-fact) to act on behalf of another (the principal) in legal or financial matters. Notarization of a power of attorney helps confirm the identity of the principal and their voluntary decision to grant authority.

Principal: In notarial terms, the principal is the person whose signature is being notarized. This individual is the main party involved in the transaction or legal document, responsible for the statements or agreements made therein.

Proof of Execution by Subscribing Witness: A notarial act where a third party (the subscribing witness) appears before a notary to swear that they witnessed the principal sign a document, or that the principal acknowledged the signature as their own. This method is used when the principal cannot appear before the notary.

Protest: A notarial act in which a notary certifies that a negotiable instrument, such as a check or promissory note, has been presented for payment or acceptance and was refused. The notary’s protest serves as formal evidence of the dishonor.

Prove: In the context of notarization, to prove means to verify the authenticity of a signer’s signature through a subscribing witness or other means when the signer is not personally known to the notary and lacks adequate identification.

Publicly Recorded: Refers to documents that have been filed with a governmental office or agency, such as a county recorder, making them part of the public record. Notarized documents, especially those related to real estate transactions, often need to be publicly recorded to be legally effective.

Quality of Officer: A term that may appear on notarial certificates, indicating the official title or capacity of the notary public, such as “Notary Public.” It clarifies the authority under which the notary is acting.

Reasonable Care: The level of attention and caution a prudent notary public must exercise when performing notarial acts. This includes verifying identities, ensuring signers understand documents, and maintaining accurate records to prevent fraud and protect the public.

Representative Capacity: Acting on behalf of another person or entity in a legal or official capacity, such as an attorney-in-fact, executor, or corporate officer. Notaries must ensure that individuals signing in a representative capacity have the authority to do so.

Representative Signer: An individual authorized to sign documents on behalf of another person or entity. Notaries must verify the representative signer’s authority and ensure that the signature is for a legitimate purpose and following the represented party’s wishes.

Satisfactory Evidence: Reliable means of identification that a notary uses to verify a signer’s identity. This may include government-issued identification documents or the oath of a credible witness known to both the notary and the signer.

Seal of Notary: An official stamp or embosser used by a notary to endorse documents, providing a physical symbol of the notary’s presence and authentication of the signatures and contents of the document.

Seal Impression Inker: A device used to darken the raised impression of an embosser seal, making it visible on photocopies and digital scans of notarized documents.

Self-Proving Affidavit: A sworn statement attached to a will, notarized to verify the authenticity of the will’s signatures, simplifying probate proceedings.

Signature Guarantee: A certification by a bank or other financial institution that a signature on a document is genuine, often required for financial transactions.

Statutory Law: The body of law enacted by a legislative body, governing the conduct of notaries and specifying the requirements for notarial acts.

Surety Bond: Similar to a Notary Bond, it’s a financial security that protects the public from mistakes or unethical actions by the notary, guaranteed by a third party.

Short-Form Certificate: A condensed version of a notarial certificate, containing the essential elements of a notarization in a brief format. It includes the type of notarial act, the date, and the notary’s signature and seal, used for convenience and efficiency.

Signature by Mark: A method of signing a document by a person who is unable to write their name, typically using an “X” or other mark. The notary witnesses the making of the mark and records the act, ensuring the signer’s intent is legally documented.

Signature by Proxy: A rare and specific situation where a third party signs a document on behalf of the principal signer, with the principal’s consent but in their absence. This practice is limited and governed by specific state laws and notary regulations.

Signature of Notary: The handwritten name of the notary, as it appears on their commissioning documents, which the notary uses to sign the notarial certificate. This signature, along with the notary’s seal, officially validates the notarization.

Signing Agent: A notary public who specializes in handling and notarizing loan documents. Signing agents are often involved in real estate transactions, where they ensure that mortgage documents are executed correctly, notarized, and returned for processing.

  1. or SCT.: Abbreviations for “scilicet,” a Latin term meaning “in particular” or “namely,” used in notarial certificates to introduce the venue of the notarization, specifying the location where the notarial act took place.

Statutory Fee: The legally prescribed charge a notary can impose for notarial acts, set by state laws to standardize notary service costs and ensure fair compensation and accessibility.

can charge for performing notarial acts. These fees are set by state law to standardize charges for notarization services, ensuring they remain accessible while compensating notaries for their services.

Subscribe: To sign one’s name to a document. In notarial terms, when a signer subscribes to a document in the presence of a notary, they are officially signing it, often as part of the notarization process where the notary witnesses and verifies the signature.

Subscribing Witness: A person who witnesses another individual (the principal) sign a document and then appears before a notary to swear or affirm that they observed the signing. This process allows documents to be notarized even when the principal cannot appear before the notary directly.

Substantially Complies: A term indicating that a document or notarial certificate meets the legal requirements in essence, though there may be minor discrepancies. It ensures that the intent and function of notarial acts are preserved, even if there are slight deviations from the prescribed format.

Supplemental ID: An additional form of identification used to support the primary ID when verifying a signer’s identity. While it may not be sufficient on its own due to a lack of photo, signature, or security features, it helps confirm the signer’s identity when used alongside a primary ID.

Surety: A person or entity that guarantees the performance of the notary, backing the notary bond. If a notary fails to perform their duties correctly, resulting in financial loss, the surety is responsible for compensating the affected parties up to the bond’s limit.

Swear: To make a solemn promise or take an oath regarding the truth of statements in a document, often invoking a divine entity. In notarization, a notary administers oaths, requiring signers or witnesses to swear to the accuracy and truthfulness of the document’s contents.

Testimonium Clause: A phrase in a notarial certificate where the notary formally attests to the facts of the notarization, such as the date, location, and identity of the signer. It serves as the notary’s official statement that the notarization was performed according to law.

Unauthorized Practice of Law: When a notary public offers legal advice or performs legal services without being licensed to practice law. Notaries must avoid this to prevent legal repercussions and maintain the integrity of the notarial profession.

Venue: The geographic location where a notarial act takes place, typically noted on the notarial certificate. It includes the state and county and is crucial for establishing the jurisdiction in which the notarization occurred.

Verification: The process by which a notary confirms the identity of the person signing a document, the voluntariness of the signature, and the signer’s understanding of the document. Verification is a fundamental duty of notaries to ensure the authenticity and integrity of notarized documents.

Vital Record: Official records of life events, such as birth, death, marriage, and divorce certificates. Notaries are generally prohibited from making certified copies of these documents because they are kept in secure government registries.

Will: A legal document expressing a person’s wishes regarding the distribution of their property after death. While notaries may notarize a will, they must do so with caution, ensuring they do not engage in the unauthorized practice of law or have a conflict of interest.

Willingness: The concept that a signer must be willing to sign a document without coercion or undue influence. A notary must assess the willingness of a signer as part of the notarization process, ensuring that the act is voluntary.

Witness: In the context of notarization, a witness is someone who physically observes the signing of a document. A notary often acts as a witness to signatures, but some documents may require additional witnesses whose presence adds to the document’s validity and integrity.

General Question About Notary Glossary

How does one become a Notary Public?

To become a Notary Public, individuals typically need to meet specific qualifications set by their jurisdiction, which may include requirements such as age, residency, passing an exam, or completing a training course. After meeting these criteria, they usually apply to the appropriate state or local government agency for commissioning.

What are the differences between a notarization, an apostille, and an authentication?

Notarization, apostille, and authentication serve different purposes in document validation. Notarization involves a Notary Public certifying the signer’s identity and acknowledging their signature on a document. It is a specialized certification required for documents destined for countries adhering to the Hague Apostille Convention. Document authentication, which is commonly used for documents destined for non-Hague Convention countries or specific legal purposes, involves additional steps beyond notarization and apostille.

How can one verify the authenticity of a notary’s seal and signature?

Contacting the appropriate state or local notary regulatory body will enable you to confirm the legitimacy of a notary’s seal and signature. It is typically possible to contact the issuing body directly or use an internet database.

What happens if a notarization is found to be fraudulent?

If a notarization is found to be fraudulent, there can be serious legal consequences for the notary and the individual who presented the fraudulent document for notarization. Consequences may include revocation of the notary’s commission, civil liability, and potential criminal charges. Rectifying the situation often involves legal proceedings to nullify the fraudulent document and may require re-execution of the document with proper authentication.

Are there any limitations to what a notary can or cannot notarize?

Notaries are typically restricted in what they can notarize based on their jurisdiction’s laws and regulations. Notarizing documents in which the notary has a personal stake is one example of a typical constraint, but the specifics vary by location. These include notarizing certain types of documents. It is similar to wills or documents with insufficient identification or legal authority, as well as transactions involving family members.

[sibwp_form id=6]