By National Notary Association—The Notary you need to employ is a valuable asset whose role is to prevent fraud and ensure the smooth and successful transaction of business. What many people don’t understand, however, is that Notaries are required to follow state Notary laws, even if the laws conflict with your wishes. Should you ask your Notary-employee to perform an improper notarization you could be asking him or her to break the law.

An error could cause a document to be rejected by the receiving agency. This could create inconvenience, embarrassment, and even cause an important deal to fall through.

There are also serious financial and legal risks. If your employee’s improper notarization causes a financial loss, the injured party could sue your Notary-employee, you and your organization for damages. There’s even the possibility of criminal penalties.

More and more employers are being named in lawsuits because courts are finding that they are responsible for instructing Notaries to violate the law.

It is not only ethically, but financially wise for you to insist that notarizations be performed according to the law. You thereby protect your Notary-employee, yourself, your organization and your clients from potentially disastrous consequences.

Here are common requests for improper notarizations and why Notaries can’t perform them.

To Notarize the Signature of an Absent Signer:
Cannot be done because the Notary’s role is to identify signers and authenticate their signatures – which cannot occur if the signer does not appear before the Notary.

To Just Stamp and Sign a Document
Does not constitute a valid and legal act because every notarization requires certificate wording to indicate exactly what the Notary is certifying.

To Give Legal Advice:
Is illegal for any Notary who is not an attorney. Helping to prepare a document, explaining a document or advising how to proceed can be considered the unauthorized practice of law.

To Notarize a Birth Certificate:
Is improper for a Notary because only an official custodian of vital records has the authority to certify such a document.

To Re-notarize Without the Signer:
Is a violation of law because a fundamental requirement for every notarial act is the personal appearance of the signer before the Notary.

To Help With Immigration:
Is illegal for a non-attorney Notary Public because it would constitute giving legal advice, which a Notary cannot do.

To Notarize an Incomplete Document:
Violates the role of the Notary, which is to prevent fraud. Notarizing a document with blank spaces would allow fraudulent information to be included later.

To Select the Notarization:
Could be considered giving legal advice, which Notaries cannot do unless they are also attorneys or qualified specialists.

To See Only Part of a Document Being Notarized:
Is not acceptable since the Notary’s job is to help prevent fraud. The Notary must be presented with the entire document at the time of notarization.