What is a Notary?

A notary is an official of integrity appointed by the state government that performs a variety of fraud-deterrent acts related to signing important documents. Each state has unique notary laws, but all states allow their notaries to perform oaths/affirmations and acknowledgments. It is expected for notaries to know what their state allows them to do.


The “golden rule” of every notarial act, whether it is paper-based or electronic, is the physical presence of the signer before the notary. The ability of a notary to properly evaluate the document signer’s identification, understanding of what the document entails, and free will be diminished by any condition other than the physical presence of the signer. The signing of documents in the presence of the notary is called the execution of the document.

What do they do?

A Notary's duty is to screen the signers of important documents — such as property deeds, wills and powers of attorney — for their true identity, their willingness to sign without duress or intimidation, and their awareness of the contents of the document or transaction.