Do’s and Don’ts
There are certain limitations to a notary public’s powers. To this extent, the notary must act within the
boundaries of their role. Below is a list to outline those boundaries.
HINT: This whole section is a tip.
Limitations of notaries:
• Notaries should never notarize, certify, or perform notarial acts for any matter in which they have a personal or vested interest, no matter how small.
• A notary that is related to an individual named in a document is permitted to notary the document for individual so long as they do not have any personal or vested interest in the matter.
o i.e. A wife that that is a notary may notarize a document for her husband as long as she does not stand to benefit from the act.
• Notaries should never notarize their own signature
• A notary should judge if the task they are being asked to perform is a practice of law or of a notary public.
o Only a licensed attorney is permitted to practice of law. This includes providing legal advice or preparing of legal documents such as a power of attorney, contract, or other legal documents.
• As a general rule, the notary should have a thorough understanding of the language a document is written in.
• As a general rule, the notary should not notarize any documents not written in a language which the signers do not have a thorough understanding.
o In this case the notary should refer the signers to the foreign consulate, an attorney, or may choose to contact a bilingual notary.
• Notaries should avoid having to decide whether a person is competent enough to understand the document being signed or the oath being taken.
o If the notary feels the person may not be competent enough to make these decisions they notary should ask for a legal consult or the consult of the individual’s physician.
• A notary should never notarize a document or perform an oath for someone that is not physically present with the notary at the time of the notarial act.
o Notarizations via phone and/or video conference are strictly forbidden.
• A notary should never notarize a document unless they have read through and verified that the document is complete and the signer indicates that it is true.
o Ensure all blanks are filled and all attachments have been filled in.