The notarial certificate and the information it contains are central to a Notary’s public duty. Different states have different requirements regarding what a certificate contains, but regardless of the jurisdiction, people rely on the certificate as a symbol of the integrity of a transaction — whether it’s a power of attorney, a parental permission form or a real estate purchase. A certificate that contains erroneous or false information undermines the value of the notarization, while a correctly executed certificate provides powerful protection against fraud. Guidelines for the proper use of certificates are detailed in Guiding Principle IV of The Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibility.
THE NOTARY SHALL NOT EXECUTE A FALSE OR INCOMPLETE CERTIFICATE, NOR BE INVOLVED WITH ANY DOCUMENT OR TRANSACTION THAT THE NOTARY BELIEVES IS FALSE, DECEPTIVE OR FRAUDULENT.
Notaries are solely responsible for the accuracy and compliance of the notarial certificate. Some states, for example, stipulate the exact wording for certificates. Others only give broad guidance. It’s up to the Notary to make sure the language on the certificate meets state law.
Editor’s Note: Each month during 2010, the Notary Bulletin will spotlight one guiding principle from The Notary Public Code Of Professional Responsibility, in random order, to help guide you when your state’s statutes, regulations and official directives fall short.
April 2010: Guiding Principle VII — The Seal
March 2010: Guiding Principle X — Seeking Instruction
February 2010: Guiding Principle II — Impartiality
January 2010: Guiding Principle III — Personal Appearance