The Role of a Notary Public

What is a notary public?

In California, a notary public is an individual appointed by the state government to act as a witness to the signing of important legal documents, such as deeds, contracts, or affidavits. Their role is to verify the identity of the signers and ensure they are signing the document willingly and without duress. Notaries play a vital role in preventing fraud in transactions that involve high-value assets or sensitive information. By having impartial and trustworthy notaries overseeing the signing process, individuals and businesses can have greater confidence in the authenticity and legality of their documents.

San Diego, two women talk at a small cafe table, behind them in the window is a view of city buildings

A notary's role is to verify your identity and willingness to proceed with your transaction. They carefully listen to you and acknowledge your intention to move forward.

What does a notary public do?

When an important document needs to be signed, a notary public is called in to act as a witness. This could include documents for transferring property, granting someone the power to manage your bank account, or giving permission for a child to travel out of the country. These are all important documents that require careful attention to prevent fraud.

To prevent fraud, a notary public takes several vital steps:

First, the notary checks the active government identification of the person signing the document to ensure that they are who they claim to be.

Secondly, the notary assesses whether everyone involved in the signing is willing and able to sign and understands the significance of the situation. The notary also ensures that no one is being coerced or pressured into signing the document, especially vulnerable individuals such as the elderly.

Next, the notary thoroughly scans the documents for any blank spaces to ensure that the document cannot be modified later on.

Lastly, the notary keeps records of the transaction, including the thumbprints of all signing individuals. If the validity of the document is questioned in the future, the parameters and intent of the signing can be examined based on these records.

A notary public plays a critical role in preventing fraud and ensuring that important transactions are carried out with integrity.