You have probably seen a sign hanging somewhere—simple enough that you barely paid attention: Notary Services. For the most part, people do not think about how to find a notary because they do not think about needing one.
What does a notary do anyway, and why would you need one?
You may already have a legal document in your hands that requires notarization, or perhaps you just know the importance of notary services and want to be ready when the time comes. Or, you are one of the many people who does not quite understand what a notary public is and why this person is important to you and your business. Whether you are a business owner or you just have business to handle, you will quickly find yourself needing notary public services.
What is a Notary?
Or rather, who is a notary? A notary public is a legal and unbiased witness to two things: that the document in question was signed and that all parties involved are who they say they are. If you have a contract or other legal document that requires a witness, using a notary adds a level of legal authority to the signatures on your document — and all you need to do is find a local notary.
When Does the Law Require the Use of Notary Services?
Typically, you use a notary in financial documents, real estate-related documents, and other legal forms. Examples of financial and real estate documents include:
- Last Will and Testament
- Living Trust
- Advance Directive
- Power of Attorney
- Living Will
- Guardianship/Custody Agreement
Real Estate-Related Documents
- Lease Agreement (Commercial/Residential)
- General Warranty Deed
- Land Contract
- Real Estate Purchase Agreement
- Mortgage Agreement
- Property Deed
- Loan Agreement
Other legal documents, especially those related to conducting business and starting a business, do not necessarily require a notary to witness the signatures. However, it is still a good idea to use this service for the following:
- Sales Contracts
- Operating Agreements
- Corporate Bylaws
- Employment Contracts
- Partnership Agreements
- Non-Disclosure Agreements
- Arbitration Agreements
Why Should You Use a Notary Service?
Why should you use a notary service, even if the law does not require it? Because it can save you time, money, and frustration.
Consider this: a “horror” story from an attorney regarding the almost three weeks he and his client spent in negotiations just to prove the legitimacy of a signature on an IOU. Imagine wasting half of a month of your life trying to prove that the other party who signed a contract actually signed the contract. How could you possibly avoid this insanity? Two words: Notary Public.
Where to Find a Notary
Now that we have covered the importance of notary services, a local notary is not too difficult to locate.
Mail Service Stores: Were you recently in a UPS store? Or perhaps you are renting a post office box through a mail services business. These types of businesses offer a variety of different services, including notarization. Finding a notary could be as easy as picking up your mail.
Banks: You already know the financial services that banks offer, but you may not be aware that you can also have your legal documents notarized at your bank as well. The closest notary near you could be where you cash checks and make deposits.
Libraries and/or Government Offices: Depending on where you live, the county clerk’s office could be your best bet in locating a local notary service. You can also check with libraries in your area — and even if they do not notarize, they may be able to tell you where to get a notary.
Search Engines: You always turn to your preferred search engine for help on where to find a notary, and you may be pleasantly surprised at all the places in your area that provide notary services.
How to Use a Notary in Your Business
While a notary can be a fairly powerful legal tool for you and your business, they are only meant to be witnesses – not document preparers or legal counsel. A notary public will neither prepare your contract for you nor will he/she provide you with any advice (other than where to sign). Additionally, a notary cannot act as a witness to any document where he/she benefits. In other words, if you and a friend/relative are entering into a deal with another party, neither you nor your friend/relative can act notarize the contract.