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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?

Banks and credit unions often have notaries on staff. You may need to make an appointment, but bank clients can usually use notary services for free. Mon-clients may be charged 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.

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.

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.