What are the responsibilities of a notary?
The primary duty of a notary public is to prevent fraud. This is done by confirming that the signer is who he or she claims to be and ensuring that the signer acknowledges, in the presence of the notary, that he or she understands and has voluntarily signed a document on a given date. Depending on which type of notarial act is being conducted, the signer may be placed under oath or give affirmation to the truthfulness of a statement made.
Must the document be signed in a notary's presence?
Any document requiring an oath or affirmation must be signed in the presence of the notary. A document requiring an acknowledgment of a signature may have been signed prior to the appearance of the signer before the notary, but in order for the acknowledgment to be made, the signer must again appear before the notary to acknowledge that he or she signed the document. A notary may not complete any notarial certificate without the appearance of the signer at the time the notarial act takes place and the certificate is completed.
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If a document requiring an oath is signed prior to the signer appearing before a notary, can the notary refuse to notarize?
No. The notary should require you to draw a line through the signature and date that is on the document and place a new signature and correct date of the notarial act. The notary may add the notation, "second signature at the request of the notary" or something to that effect.
Can a notary notarize for minors?
Yes. A notary can notarize for a minor, if the notary is able to properly identify the minor and the notary can determine that the minor understands the act taking place.
Can a notary suggest which type of notarial certificate to use for a document?
No. It is against the law for a Notary Public who is not an attorney to provide any type of legal advice. The notary cannot suggest which kind of notarial act should be completed. The notary may present you with sample certificates and explain each for you to choose from.
Can a notary notarize a document that is not completely filled out?
No. The document needs to be completely filled out and not contain any blank spaces.
Can a notary make certified copies of birth certificates, death certificates, or marriage licenses?
No. These are recordable documents, and a certified copy can only be issued by the governmental agency that is a custodian of these records. However, a notary has the authority to certify copies of original documents that are not recordable in the public records.
Can a notary backdate dates on documents?
No. Notarial certificates must bear the date the notarization took place.
Can a handwritten statement be notarized?
Yes. A notary can notarize a handwritten statement if a notarial certificate is placed on the document. If no notarial certificate is included on the handwritten statement, a notary may offer sample certificates for you to choose and attach to the statement.
Can a notary make any changes or corrections to notarized documents?
No. Once a document is notarized, it must not be altered. If changes are necessary, a new document must be executed with a new notarization. All steps must be followed properly, including the personal appearance of the signers involved.
Notary Publics are governed by Chapter 406 of the Government Code, Chapter 121 of the Civil Practice and Remedies Code, and the Texas Administrative Code Chapter 87. For a more in depth look into the laws and regulations that govern Notary Publics in the State of Texas please access the links listed below.