A notarized letter is an important document that bears the seal of a notary public. The notarization process can be used to authenticate many documents, ranging from the property or legal agreements to binding agreements like wills or guardianship documents.
A notary public is a person appointed and commissioned by the state to verify and attest to the quality of a document, witness the signature, record the signing in an official log, and sign it using their official seal. Notaries are also responsible for verifying and attesting that any person signing the documents has lawful authority.
In this article, we will walk you through what constitutes a notarized letter, including what it is, how it can help you prove your case, how notarization works, various duties of a notary public, and where to get letters or important documents notarized.
What is a Notarized Letter/Document?
Notarization is signing a document/letter before an official notary citizen or public and then having the notary official sign, seal and stamp the document to certify that it is authentic. Generally, there are no specific guidelines for a notary’s notarization process other than the idea that the notary is physically present to witness the signing of the document and record the activity in an official log.
The notarization process also involves verifying signatures to confirm that the signature is genuine reasonably. This prevents any potentiality of fraud and assures interested parties that the document is authentic. Documents may or may not become legally valid immediately after they have been notarized. Therefore, it is ideal to check your state and local government laws regarding notarization or consult your local attorney for legal guidance.
In most countries, notarization is a legal requirement for most significant legal documents such as affidavits, wills, contracts, powers of attorney, advanced directives, title transfers for cars and real estate property, and other legal documents that can impact the rights of the signer. Documents containing important financial data also need to be notarized to guard against forgery.
For instance, if you are signing over a large sum of money to another party and you won’t be around to verify the transaction once you have authorized it, you may need to notarize the document to ensure that any interested party (i.e., your bank) can verify its authenticity. The same applies when designating a beneficiary in a will, gift, trust, or life insurance policy because these documents demand much trust in all parties involved.
The notary citizen is an official approved to perform the notarial functions and acts on behalf of a state, an agency, or another entity. Their primary role is to provide a third party, anyone from an individual to an organization, with legal guarantee and assurance that the respective signer signed the given documents per all applicable signing laws.
However, remember that notaries do not have the power to alter documents or add any information to them. Unlike lawyers or attorneys who can assist you in drafting documents and certifying any of your activity, notaries can only secure the authenticity of a document by confirming that the signer is who they say they are and that their signature is genuine.
Benefits of notarization
The most obvious reason a document may need to be notarized is to prove that the person signing it is who they say they are. A notary will ask for identification documentation, such as a passport or driver’s license, to confirm the signer’s identity. They will also verify that the person signing is of legal age (if required by the country) and that they have all of their mental faculties.
Notarization also benefits you in other ways. For example, having a document or contract notarized will provide you with legal proof if there is a dispute over your agreement’s validity. The notary public will keep notes of the time and place of the signing and all parties involved, along with their signature/seal. This provides irrefutable proof that all parties agreed to the terms and conditions per applicable laws.
Furthermore, notarizing documents or letters offers you some layer of protection from document fraud. Since notaries are one of the few parties that can be trusted to verify a signer’s identity and provide accurate record-keeping for a given signing, it is improbable that someone other than the signer will try to recreate an already notarized document. But if someone does try to pull this off, the notary’s seal and signature on the original document would allow you to challenge their forgery in court.
Notarized letters may be required for any document that requires approval or notice for legal or business purposes. For example, notarization is required for affidavits, which are written statements used to prove the truthfulness of a matter, such as a residency proof letter, child travel, child support, and guardianship proof letter. Other legal documents also require notarization, such as documents granting someone else a power of attorney (POA) to oversee matters relating to the principal’s financial, property, and personal affairs.
How Does Notarization Work?
The process of notarization is usually quick and easy if you follow the correct procedure and ensure you adhere to all your jurisdiction’s requirements.
The following is a step-by-step guide to help you get documents or letters notarized in the right way:
Visit a notary
The first step is to visit your local notary public and let them know what you need. It is recommended that you bring your identification and the document itself so that notary can check to see if everything is in order. The notary will also ask you to pay a fee for the service, which varies by jurisdiction. Next, check with your local government agency (for example, the county clerk or county recorder’s office) on the specific procedure in your area.
Prove your identity
The notary must confirm your identity and ensure you are of legal age (if required by the state). You will likely be asked to show one or more forms of government-issued identification, such as a passport, driver’s license, and birth certificate.
Sign the document
Once the notary public has verified your identity, you will be asked to sign the document before them. Before you sign the document, ensure all the information stated is correct. A notary citizen will not read through the document to evaluate it for you or provide legal advice. Notaries will also not alert you to any problems you may be signing for; thus, be sure to consult a legal expert in the document creation stage if the material holds any significant legal or financial implications.
Have the notary stamp your letter/document
Once you have signed the document, the notary will use a unique stamp to seal the date, time, and place of your signing. The notary’s seal is proof that they have witnessed your signing and that the document is authentic.
Pay the fees
You will also be requested to pay a fee for the notary’s services. Depending upon your locality, the fee may be nominal or substantial. In most cases, a fee of less than $25 is applicable, but depending on your state, the fees may be as low as $5.
Duties of a notary
A notary is a public official whose duty is to document and attest to the fact that a person signing a document or letter has signed it following state laws. The notary takes an oath to pledge their word and integrity to the truthfulness of each statement that they record on paper or in electronic form. Notaries’ primary duties include:
As the name suggests, notary publics verify the identity of each person and place it on record. In most cases, this entails verifying identification documents or signing a statement that affirms a particular individual is who they say they are.
Notaries ensure that the person signing a document is fully aware of the parameters and terms of that document. They also ensure that the person signing is willingly signing it and is not under duress or any other form of compulsion.
Determine whether the signer is capable of making sound decisions
Notaries are often asked to ensure an applicant signer can make sound decisions concerning the proposed legal document. This means, for example, that the signer is of age or has the mental capacity to understand what they are signing.
Where to get Letters/Documents Notarized
The best place to get a document or letter notarized is typically your local notary public office. Depending on where you live, there might be a few notary options in your city or state, but the best idea is to make sure that you find a reputable and certified notary. The following are some of the places to find notaries and get your letters or documents notarized:
You can find a notary public at financial institutions, especially banks, savings and loan institutions, or credit unions. Notaries are also located in probate offices, U.S. Treasury locations (especially on military bases), and government agencies such as customs, the Veterans Administration, and the Social Security Administration.
You can also find mobile notaries who travel to various locations to provide document signing services. Mobile notaries are a great option if you want to get a document notarized on the go. Mobile notaries offer their services at the location of your choice and can come to your home or office to ensure you don’t have to leave work or drive long distances for the service.
Most courts employ notaries to provide document notarization services to the public. Often, these notaries are located in the court clerk’s office or some other part of the courthouse.
A notary public may also be located in your local title company office, mortgage lender, or brokerage office. You can also find document notaries at other businesses such as shipping stores, e.g., FedEx and UPS stores, check-cashing and money transfer stores, neighborhood convenience stores, car dealerships, office supply retailers, e.g., OfficeMax and Staples, Tax preparers, and law offices.
Gaining popularity in recent years, online notaries are a quick and efficient way to get documents notarized. Online notaries will review your document electronically, ask the necessary questions about any particular requirements for that state or jurisdiction, and then provide you with a completed, notarized document. But, first, you may need to verify whether this practice is acceptable from the entity requesting notarized documents.
Sample Notarized Letters and Templates
- Notarized documents are legal documents authenticated by a notary public or other authorized officials.
- Notarizing documents is beneficial because it provides greater assurance that the signer is fully aware of and has agreed to the terms and conditions of a document. It also protects signers from any claims of forgery or fraud.
- A notary is a government official who acts as an impartial witness to verify the identities of individuals and the authority of others to sign legal instruments and execute legal documents.
- Notaries are responsible for ensuring that an individual signing a document is of age, has the mental capacity to understand what they are signing, and willingly signs the document for which they are held responsible.
- You can have your letter’s necessary documentation notarized at your local notary public office, a bank or other financial institution branch, a mobile notary, a court, or another local business. In addition, having your letter or important documents notarized is possible using online notary services.