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If you’ve ever signed an important legal document, such as a will or a contract, you may have been asked to have your signature notarized. But what exactly does that mean, and when do you need a notary? In this post, we’ll explore the answers to these questions and more.

What is a Notary?

A notary is a public official who is authorized by the government to verify the authenticity of signatures on legal documents and witness the signing of those documents. Notaries play an important role in preventing fraud and identity theft. They do this by verifying the signer’s identification and their willingness to sign. If a notary has reason to believe the signer is not of sound mind or is being coerced, the notarization must be refused. 

When Do You Need a Notary?

There are several situations where you may need to have a document notarized, including:

  1. Real Estate Transactions: If you’re buying or selling a property, you may need to have certain documents notarized, such as the deed or the mortgage.
  2. Power of Attorney: A power of attorney is a legal document that gives someone else the authority to act on your behalf. 
  3. Wills and Trusts: When creating a will or trust, you may need to have your signature notarized. However, it is important to know that notaries cannot draft or give advice on the legal situations surrounding these documents 
  4. Contracts: Many contracts, especially those related to business transactions, require notarization to ensure that all parties are aware of the terms of the agreement and are signing voluntarily. 
  5. Vehicle Transactions: If you’re buying or selling a car in Pennsylvania, the title must be notarized and the transfer can be processing by a PennDOT Full Agent. Many notaries in Pennsylvania are Full Agents. 
  6. Medical Documents: Some medical documents, such as advanced directives or living wills.

Why Do You Need a Notary?

Notarization provides an added layer of security to legal documents. This is especially important for documents that have a significant impact on your life, such as those related to property or finances. 

How to Find a Notary

Notaries can be found in a variety of places, including banks, libraries, and courthouses. You can also search for a notary online or through a mobile app. When looking for a notary, be sure to check their credentials and make sure that they are authorized to notarize documents in your state. In Pennsylvania, you can check a notary’s status on this website: https://www.notaries.pa.gov/Pages/NotarySearch.aspx

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