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Notary Bulletin

Recommended Notary Practices: Don't Give Unauthorized Advice

The duties of a Notary are strictly defined by law, and going outside those limits can lead to legal trouble for the Notary. That’s why the NNA’s Recommended Notary Practices encourages all Notaries to:

Always refrain from giving advice to signers unless you have the professional training and credentials to do so.

Though Notaries are asked to notarize signatures on many different types of documents, a Notary commission does not automatically give someone the authority to offer advice or prepare a document that requires specialized training. For example, if a signer has a question about the legal effect of a last will and testament, a qualified attorney — not a Notary — would be needed to answer the question. If a Notary offers unauthorized advice or assistance to a signer regarding a document, the Notary risks making a mistake and invalidating the document if incorrect advice is given. This could result in legal problems or financial losses for the signer, and the Notary could be sued, decommissioned or face other legal penalties as a result.

Notaries without proper professional qualifications should never offer signers advice or prepare documents on their own, especially those related to legal, real estate or immigration matters. Should a signer have questions about a document’s content or legal effect, the Notary should explain he or she is not permitted to advise the signer. Instead, the signer should consult with an attorney or other professional authorized to offer assistance with the document.

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