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 Errors & Omissions Insurance 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.

Professional Sections

NSA and Small Business
Healthcare Professionals
Legal Professionals
Financial and Corporate Services
Immigration
International

Quiz: The Many Types Of Notarial Acts

Notaries perform many different duties for the public — and it’s easy to lose track of the different acts and what states they’re authorized in. Test your familiarity with common — and uncommon — notarial acts.

(A link to the correct answers is provided at the end of the quiz.)

Confronted with a tricky notarization? Unsure how to proceed? NNA members have unlimited access to our expertly trained Hotline counselors to help you with all of your notarial questions.

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