What Does a Notary Do?

What Does a Notary Do?

Notaries are public officials who serve as a witness of the signing of important documents. A notary, or notary public, is an official of integrity appointed by state government to serve the public as an impartial witness when important documents are signed. Most banks and credit unions have a notary public on staff for customers who need documents notarized.

What Are the Duties of a Notary?

As an official witness of a state, a notary helps prevent fraud. By witnessing the signing of documents or administering oaths, the notary is there to make sure participants are willing and all tasks are carried out properly. Notaries can only work in the state in which they are appointed, and their duties include:

  • Administering oaths and affirmations during court proceedings and when officials are sworn into office.
  • Maintaining proper records of their activities as mandated by their state.
  • Taking depositions and affidavits, if they have that specialty.
  • Performing marriage ceremonies in states where that is permitted.

Do Banks Have Notaries? How Do I Find a Notary?

You can go to your local bank or credit union when you need to notarize a document. Most have at least one employee who is certified as a notary who can help you, and there's often no charge for the service if you have an account with the bank. Shipping stores and office supply stores may also have notaries on staff who can help you for a fee.

When Do You Need a Notary?

States have different rules about what types of activities or transactions must be notarized. And some states may recommend but not require a notary for certain things. In any case, the party accepting the documents will let you know if a notary is needed.

Notarizations are commonly part of business in local government, legal proceedings and when an official is sworn in. You may need a notary when you write a will or name a power of attorney, or for certain bank documents or medical records.

What Is the Notarization Process?

Here’s what to expect if you need something notarized:

  • The parties involved must be together in person.
  • The document is reviewed to ensure it explains the type of notarization required and conforms to the state’s requirements.
  • The notary verifies the identity of the signers. How does a notary identify a signer? A notary can rely on personal knowledge, identification documents or a credible witness who can vouch for a person’s identity.

In some states, notaries may also be required to keep specific records of their notarizations.

What Should I Bring with Me to Meet with the Notary?

When you meet with a notary you should have the following things with you:

  • Your government-issued ID.
  • The unsigned documents; you’ll need to sign them with the notary present.  
  • The money to pay the fee, if charged. 

This material is presented for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individual tax or financial advice. KeyBank does not provide legal advice.