What are notary services, and what does it mean to have something notarized?
The Provincial Government appoints a Notary Public (Notary) to provide limited legal services to the public. Notaries aren’t new; they can be traced back thousands of years to ancient Egypt and Babylon. Ancient notaries were needed to make records of transactions and guarantee their fairness. Fast forward to the modern-day, the role of a notary public has evolved, but their general responsibilities stayed the same. In a nutshell, the job of a notary public is to ensure that important transactions and documents are fair and legal. In Ontario, notarizing is governed by the Notaries Act (the Act). All notary services must follow and comply with the requirements set out in the Act.
What are Notary services?
When you have legal or important documents to sign, every party involved in signing the documents wants to know that they’re authentic and properly executed. Notary services help prevent fraud, complications, and misunderstandings.
Examples of notary services include:
- Notary public
- Notarized copies of documents
- Certified true copies
- Consent letters
- Custodianship declarations
- Invitation letters
- Passport applications
- Witnessing signatures
- Administering oaths, affirmations, and declarations for affidavits or statutory declarations (Commissioner of Oaths)
- Proof of loss for automobiles, documents, passports, ID’s
- Professional and other various applications
- International authentication and legalization
You may require notary services if you are:
- Handling documents that contain important financial or legal matters
- Designating a beneficiary on a life insurance policy
- Writing a will or trust, or signing over a large amount of money
- Designating a power of attorney
- Buying or selling a home
- Moving to another country
- Transferring property or a title for a car
- Getting a mortgage
- Acquiring a hand-gun permit
- Signing healthcare-related forms
First and foremost, a notary must always follow all rules and regulations outlined in the Act when providing any type of notary services. They have an essential job of ensuring and guaranteeing the legitimacy of crucial documents. To perform their duties properly, they do a series of checks and standard procedures.
Before any documents are signed, a notary will require valid government-issued identification from each person signing a document. Proper identification is crucial to ensure that the correct parties are signing the documents and preventing any possible attempt at using a false identity. Once the Notary is provided with everyone’s identification, they take detailed notes about each document to keep on record.
You must sign the document at your own free will when you get a document notarized. Notaries are trained to notice signs of coercion and may refuse to notarize a document if they feel as though someone is forcing you to sign. It is also the Notary’s job to recognize when an individual is intoxicated or unable to understand what’s happening. You must be in a condition where you can fully understand what you’re signing and your legal capacity to sign it. Suppose the Notary determines that any party is incapable of signing or identifies any potential concerns or problems with the signer. In that case, they can refuse to validate the signature.
It’s important to note that a notary can not provide you with legal advice. Their job is to verify your identity, willingness to sign, and awareness of the document or transaction you’re signing. They are not required to read through or evaluate any material. It is the responsibility of each party to understand what they’re signing. If you need any help understanding your documents or require guidance on your situation, contact an experienced lawyer before seeking notary services.
How to get a document notarized
When you require any type of notary services, you can’t just walk in anywhere at any time and have a document notarized. You need to take a few steps before starting the process to avoid any delays or complications.
Step 1 – Find a Notary: Finding a Notary can be reasonably simple. You can get documents notarized in various places such as financial institutions and other businesses. Badre Law Professional Corporation is Ottawa’s top choice for notary services.
Step 2 – Provide government-issued photo identification: For a Notary to verify your identity and proceed with the notarization process, you must provide them with a valid government-issued photo ID (e.g., driver’s license or passport). Be sure that your ID is not expired, and bring an extra piece of ID (if possible) with you just in case. If a Notary has any doubts about the validity of your identification, they may refuse to provide you with notary services. Every person who needs to sign the document must be present at the signing, and everyone must provide identification.
Step 3 – Do not sign anything beforehand: It is incredibly crucial that you do not sign any documents before meeting with a Notary. You should complete all of the documents beforehand except for the date and signature. The Notary must witness your signature in person. Otherwise, they’ll be unable to confirm or verify who signed the document. Wait until the Notary gives you explicit directives to sign.
Step 4 – Be prepared to pay any fees: Notary services aren’t free; you should always be ready to pay a fee; however, they’re generally very inexpensive. Prices may vary depending on the services you require, where you go, and how many pages of documents you’re signing. In most cases, you can find their fees listed on their websites, or you can confirm ahead of time.
There are various situations and instances where you may require notary services. Now that you understand what notary services are and how to use them, you have all the resources you need to prepare yourself for your appointment. The great thing about these services is that they’re generally swift and efficient to get done. Once your documents are notarized, you’ll have peace of mind knowing they can’t be tampered with, changed and that they’re entirely legitimate.