Notary Resources

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. Notaries who step outside these narrow limits risk liability for practicing law without a license.

Notaries have no authority to advise others in preparing or interpreting documents unless they are also an attorney or a trained and credentialed expert in a pertinent field. A notarial commission alone does not authorize a Notary to help another person draft, prepare, complete, select or understand a document -- and particularly not for a fee. A Notary may not even determine for the signer what type of notarial act to perform, because this decision has important legal ramifications.

To avoid the risk of persecution for the unauthorized practice of law, a Notary must never offer legal advice or draft documents for another person. 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.

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