When you think about how to notarize a document, you usually get the help of a public notary. But you’d be surprised how often people are unsure whether to opt for an attorney or a public notary to notarize a document.
Of course, notarizing a document is a legal matter. However, an attorney is not the obvious choice to notarize a document. Although it depends on the situation, you most likely will have to avail the services of a public notary or notary agent to notarize a document.
In this post, you will learn about the fundamental difference between hiring an attorney and a public notary to form a better understanding of how to deal with your legal documents.
Both lawyers and public notaries can notarize legal documents for clients. In layman’s terms, attorneys who act as public notaries are notaries at law or civil law notaries. However, attorneys are more suitable to provide legal expertise to their respective clients.
If you’re wondering who can legally notarize a document? The answer lies with a public notary. But unlike a public notary, a lawyer can represent you in a court of law and take care of legal proceedings. On the other hand, public notaries take care of non-contentious matters.
In these cases, involved parties have agreed to the terms and conditions of an agreement and want to notarize a document to move forward with the transaction. With this approach, parties arrange for legal witnesses at the time of signing of a document.
Like attorneys, notaries don’t have to have a law degree. However, public notaries undergo training and follow standard notary practices. Like lawyers, notaries keep up with the change in laws that might impact the notarization process.
Remember that a public notary is limited to taking care of non-contentious matters. These legal services can include power of attorney, notarizing transactional documents, notarizing contracts, estates and wills, business-related documents, and real estate documents.
It is often better to lean towards a public notary to notarize a document. But when legal assistance or advice comes into play, you have to open the doors for a professional attorney. Typically, when you think about lawyers – you think about court proceedings, litigation matters, and legal paperwork. You expect an attorney acting to represent you in a court with your best interests at heart.
But technically, a lawyer has the power to represent as a notary and notarize a legal document. In terms of responsibilities, an attorney has more power and can undertake various roles, including a notary public. If you’re thinking about how to notarize a power of attorney, understand that it is a circumstantial enactment that requires you, the principal, to sign the document. After that, notarizing a document requires getting a seal or stamp.
In the past, there have been unique situations where an attorney decided to act as legal counsel and performed notary duties at the same time. If a lawyer is named in a legal document and has some vested interests, that lawyer cannot notarize the document.
A lawyer cannot certify acknowledgements and is likely not eligible to notarize a document. Like a public notary, a lawyer has to act as an impartial party and should possess no interest in the actual transaction. If these requirements are not met, then an attorney cannot notarize a document. In New Jersey, applicants are viewed as notary attorneys but cannot assist in executing a document or administering an oath.
It is, however, vital to understand that an attorney who acts as a public notary can also offer legal counsel. Sure, it is usually the public notary responsible for notarizing documents. But lawyers often step in to speed up the notarizing process and take matters into their own hands. But to act as a notary, a lawyer cannot be a party to the legal matter and any direct involvement related to the creation of the document.
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While an attorney is eligible to notarize a document, it is better to seek out a professional public notary to notarize a document. But if an attorney does not have a vested interest in a legal document, the involved parties can ask the lawyer to notarize it and act as a public notary.
NJ Attorneys are free to notarize legal documents. However, the law is applicable equally to notaries and attorneys. But as per law, there are no imposed ethical or legal requirements that can prevent a lawyer from notarizing a document in New Jersey.
According to the Florida Civil Law Notary program, attorneys can attest or act as notaries to authenticate the validity of the legal document. But when acting as a public notary, an attorney can only notarize a document’s signature after meeting state-specific conditions.