Being a notary public is, for the most part, a pretty cut and dry job. However, there are a few rules that John Keefe, a notary public in Oklahoma City, would like you to know about. You should also brush up on your knowledge of Notary Public Law if you have not already. Below, you will find some instances in which your authority to notarize is limited or even prohibited.
- Certifying copies of official documents – Did you know that state and federal laws prohibit notaries from certifying copies of birth, death, and naturalization certificates and copyrighted material? You do not want to be part of something illegal!
- Never notarize blank documents, documents with blank spaces, and documents without notarial word – You never want to notarize documents such as these because blank spaces can be filled in fraudulently at another time. You will want to insist that your client draws lines through the blank spaces before you notarize the document. If there is no notarial wording on a document, you cannot stamp your seal or signature on said document. Also, forget pre-notarizing a document for your client to fill in at a later date because that is illegal.
- Notarizing by proxy is frowned upon – So, you have something to do later in the day and cannot meet with some clients to notarize their paperwork. Your brother, Larry gladly chimes in and says he will sign your name to the documents and act as your proxy. Sounds like a good idea, right? Wrong! Your notarial commission is non-transferable, and you cannot, under any circumstances, delegate someone else to sign your name, use your rubber stamp, or make entries in your notarial register.
- Never give out legal advice – Seriously, this is a no-brainer. Unless, you are a licensed attorney who has privileges to practice in the state in which you are performing notarial services, you need to keep your mouth shut regarding legal counsel. This includes telling your clients what to say on affidavits, describing, interpreting, or explaining to the clients the content or legal implications of a document or choosing which notarial form to use.
- Do not advertise as a Notario Publico – You might wish to appeal to the Latin-American community, but in Spanish, this terms means “attorney” and you are not an attorney.
- Notarizing for friends, relatives, and employers — As long as you, the notary, have no direct personal or monetary interest in a transaction, you can perform notarial services for family members, relatives and employers. For example, you can notarize your brother’s signature on the title of his car, as long as you are not involved in buying or selling the car.
- Performing marriages – In some states, like Pennsylvania, Notaries are not allowed to issue marriage licenses or perform marital ceremonies. This would not apply to someone like John Patrick Keefe, as he is also a wedding officiant in OKC.