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Hotline Tip: Defining The Legal Language On Notary Certificates

NNA Hotline Tips For NotariesThere are many legal-sounding terms used in Notary certificates and within documents requiring notarization. Can you explain what they mean? – B.R., Omaha, NE

Many of the legal terms found in Notary certificates may seem complicated, but they actually have simple or familiar meanings. Below is a list of common legal terms you are likely to see on Notary certificates, along with their definitions:

  • Affiant: The signer of an affidavit
  • Attest: To certify or declare to be true
  • Depose: To swear or affirm
  • Execute: To sign
  • Executing Witness: A subscribing witness
  • Instrument: A document
  • Legalize: To make legal or lawful
  • Subscribe: To sign
  • Verification Upon Oath or Affirmation: What some states call a jurat

You don’t need to worry about understanding legal terms in the main body of documents you notarize. The only part of a document that you need to understand is its title. Aside from checking for blank spaces in the text, you should not be reading in detail what the document says between the title and the Notary certificate.

Hotline answers are based on the laws in the state where the question originated and may not reflect the laws of other states. If in doubt, always refer to your own state statutes. — The Editors


Confronted with a tricky notarization? Unsure how to proceed? NNA members have unlimited access to our expertly trained NNA Hotline counselors to help you with all of your notarial questions. Call (888) 876-0827, Monday through Friday, 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST; Saturday, 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST

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