Notary Law and Legal Definition
A notary public is an officer authorized by the state in which the person resides to administer oaths, take acknowledgments, certify documents and to take depositions if the notary is also a court reporter. The signature and seal or stamp of a notary public is necessary to attest to the oath of truth of a person making an affidavit. The appointment, qualification, duties, powers, and liabilities of notaries are defined and regulated in detail by statute in the various jurisdictions.
Statutes of some states also authorize "commissioners of deeds" or "commissioners of the state," officers whose powers and duties are similar to those of notaries but are generally authorized to attest or certify deeds and other writings executed outside the state to be used within the state. Generally, a notary public may sign as one of the witnesses and as the notary public on a document. However, before signing as a witness, the notary should ensure that the document does not require the notarization of the witnesses' signatures. The notary should also certify in the notarial certificate the name of the person whose signature is being notarized. Absent such specific notation, the law presumes that all signatures were notarized. Thus, the notary could unintentionally notarize his or her own signature if the notarial certificate is not specific.