The Role of a Notary Public

The Role of a Notary Public: What They Legally Can & Cannot Do

Notary Publics handle important documents, and due to the legal nature of these documents, people often think that Notaries can also offer legal advice. However, the duties of a Notary Public are defined by statute in each state, and while laws vary by jurisdiction, a Notary is only permitted by law to provide certain services. Therefore, it’s important to know the role of a Notary Public, and their limitations, so that all parties involve do not get into trouble with the law.

Providing Legal Advice Limits

Any action taken by a Notary Public that involves exercising direction may be considered an unauthorized practice of law or offering legal advice without the proper credentials or licenses to do so. It may seem tricky, seeing as many documents that require notary services are legal documents. When signers ask legal questions and do not understand the boundaries between professions, Notaries who are eager to answer these questions, though they are not attorneys, can get into trouble for offering any legal advice.

How a Notary Public Can Avoid Being Accused of Offering Legal Advice

  • Notaries should explain their role to all signers, so that everyone understands what they can and cannot do in providing notary services.
  • Explain what documents they can notarize and what notary actions they take with each type of document.
  • The notary can refer signers to an attorney if they have legal questions regarding the document they’re executing.

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