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Avoid Unauthorized Practice of Law

Notaries are "ministerial" officials meaning that their powers are very limited — in contrast to "judicial" officials who are given broad discretionary authority by the law.

A Notary must never offer legal advice or draft documents for another person. Notaries are not allowed to advise others in preparing or explaining documents unless they are also an attorney or a trained and credentialed expert in a relevant field.

A notarial commission alone does not authorize a Notary to help another person draft or select a document — and particularly not for a fee. A Notary may not even choose for the signer what type of notarial act to perform, because this decision has important legal ramifications. If a signer has a question about a document, refer this person to his or her attorney or to the document's issuing or receiving agency for an answer. Notaries who step outside these narrow limits risk civil and criminal penalties for practicing law without a license.

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