Does a contract have to be notarized?

PandaDoc Notary knowledge center

Signing and entering into contracts can be confusing and tricky when you are not a legal expert in contract law. When you and the other party enter into an agreement, it means there’s a meeting of minds. This involves fulfilling the obligation to make a payment or render service. Note that the law considers this mutual agreement a contract. However, there can be confusion about the validity or enforceability of a contract, particularly if it lacks notarization. So, does a contract have to be notarized? Does it mean a contract becomes invalid if it is not witnessed or notarized? 

You should know that different states and legal jurisdictions have strict rules about contracts. So, these documents must meet specific legal requirements and incorporate certain sections to be legally binding. In most cases, a contract does not have to be notarized since the signed contract itself is enforceable and legally binding in state or federal courts.

Many types of written contracts don’t require a notary public to be valid. However, if a person’s signature has been notarized, generally, courts waive the legal obligation or duty to prove contract authentication. This can save you a lot of time and money. Contract notarization is prevalent in common law and helps avoid legal disputes and other issues.

Does a contract have to be notarized?

For a contract to be binding and legally enforceable, several terms and conditions have to be met. For example, the parties to the written contract must be legally sound and competent adults. Note that as long as the document complies with the state-specific legal requirements and has the signatures of all the parties concerned, it’s considered legally valid and binding.

Promises alone do not make a binding contract. However, you do not need witnesses or notaries either. Some examples of contracts that don’t need to be notarized are petitions, applications, and general contracts for the sale of goods.

However, real estate deals and leases are the most common documents that need a notary service. When purchasing a house, the real estate agent or realtor has a notary public present when signing the legal documents to avoid a legal dispute. And the notary’s stamp gives the property documents proof of validation when you sign these papers. Find out whether you have to notarize real estate purchase agreements.

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However, no general requirement or law mandates that a contract be notarized in any way to be legally binding. Learn whether you can notarize for family. Find out whether notarizing your own document is a good idea. 

Why is it important to notarize a contract? 

In the past, it was legally necessary to have several types of contracts notarized. Today, the law usually requires that only some types of documents must be notarized in order to be legal and valid, such as real estate deeds. However, there are many good reasons to have a notarized contract. Find out how you can notarize an electronic signature.

For example, one simple and inexpensive legal tip that could offer you the winning edge in a court of law is to have all the signatures on important contracts and agreements acknowledged and witnessed by a notary public. So, you should have the signatures notarized.

Also, intelligent and savvy business owners and property owners know the legal and financial value of having a contract notarized or witnessed. For example, one reason to notarize signatures on contracts and agreements is that it helps keep the other party from later claiming they did not sign the document.

If you are working with a law firm or attorney to vet or create legal or contract documents, seeking a third-party notary is generally unnecessary.

Does a contract require witnesses?

Depending on your agreement or contract, it might not become legally valid and enforceable without proper witnessing. You should know that some contracts, such as real estate leases, need additional validation, requiring that your signature is witnessed by somebody who can verify or confirm your identity.

While witnesses are not generally required for a contract to be legally enforceable, each US state and state courts may require special types of contracts, such as wills, real estate deals, and marriage agreements, to be notarized or witnessed by a third party to be binding.

For instance, while not crucial to most business transactions or operations, most US states require at least two witnesses to be present when a will is signed. Some documents and contracts that may need the signature of a notary public or witness are:

Does a notarized document expire? The notarization of your contract or other document doesn’t expire as long as the date on the official notarization seal at the time of attestation is valid.

Most often, witnesses to a contract must be:

  • Of sound mind
  • Of the age of majority in the state you live
  • Able to confirm the signer’s identity
  • A neutral or impartial third-party

How to notarize a contract

While official requirements and rules can vary from one state to another, the basic process for notarizing a contract or document involves three main steps: verifying the signer’s identity, observing the signature, and then marking the signature with a notary stamp or seal.

A notary verifies the identity of the parties signing the contract. You can find notaries at real estate offices, banks, office supply stores, and many other locations. Learn more about who can notarize documents.

Learn how to notarize a document to keep protect yourself legally. 

  1. To notarize a contract, the signers need to provide adequate identification, such as a driver’s license, so the notary public can confirm the identity of all signers.
  2. Once the identities of the signers have been verified, the notary public leads each signer through the contract and observes or watches them making each required signature.
  3. After observing all signatures, the notary stamps each signature on the contract made by each signer with a notary stamp unique to them.
  4. You have to pay a notary fee
  5. After that, you can collect the certified document from the notary

How to notarize a contract with Pandadoc Notary?

Online notarization services or remote notarization can solve your problems since they are convenient, simple, and available 24/7. Some simple steps involved in getting a contract notarized through PandaDoc Notary include:

Step 1

You can take a picture of your contract or upload a PDF file from your computer. You can also upload from a cloud storage service, such as Dropbox. No matter the time of day or location, or device, PandaDoc Notary has notaries ready to complete all your notary requests!

Step 2

Now, you just have to confirm your identity with PandaDoc’s verification process. The platform uses identification verification technology in order to verify government-issued photograph IDs and passports.

Step 3

You can connect to a live notary anytime and confirm your identity on a secure call or face-to-face on a webcam. Connect easily with a licensed and professional electronic notary public over live video in order to sign and notarize your contract or other documents. The PandaDoc Notary agent will verify your identity and witness your signature, assisting you throughout the process. With PandaDoc Notary, you can find a notary online via any digital device and have your contract notarized in a virtual environment without relying on a law firm or attorney.

How to protect a business from a contract dispute?

  1. Get your contract in writing and notarize it with a reliable platform like PandaDoc Notary.
  2. Identify all the details
  3. Include terms of payment
  4. Use language you can understand
  5. Identify all the parties
  6. Discuss contract termination
  7. Include dispute resolution mechanisms
  8. Keep it simple
  9. Have your contract witnessed
  10. Maintain confidentiality

Get documents notarized online with PandaDoc Notary

Before signing your next contract, ensure that it includes all the essential elements and details. Also, have the document notarized so you can enjoy peace of mind knowing your written contract is legitimate. When a neutral, third-party witness or notarized a contract, it helps prove that the document was signed willingly by all parties and not through coercion, undue influence, or duress.

When you need quick and secure notarization of your contracts and legal documents, use PandaDoc Notary. It’s the simplest and most affordable way to get your contract signed and sealed.

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