What is a Notary?

Notary Public

A notary public is a public official, typically certified or commissioned by their state's secretary of state, who is specifically trained to confirm the identity of the person signing the document. When a notary public places their seal of office upon a document, the receiving party can be reasonably assured that the document was not signed fraudulently.

Notarial Acts

Simply put, a notarial act occurs when a notary public completes and seals a notarial certificate. There are three main types of notarial certificates: acknowledgment, jurat and copy certification of a power of attorney. 

Which Certificate Do You Need?

If a certificate has not been provided to you, and you don't know which type you need, you can ask the person who is receiving the document back what kind you need. If they do not know, see the descriptions below. Remember, if a certificate is not already provided to you, you have to choose what type of notarial act you need. 

Notary stamp on stamp pad
Various documents spread out with a pen on top of them

Acknowledgment

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Jurat

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Elderly couple signing a document

Acknowledgment

When you bring a document you have already signed, or even may be signing in the presence of a notary, and acknowledge that you are the one who signed the document, that notarial act is called an acknowledgment.

Businessman taking an oath

Jurat

When you sign a document in front of a notary public and swear or affirm that the document is true and correct, that notarial act is called a jurat.

Power of attorney document with a gavel laying on top

Certified Copy of a Power of Attorney

When you bring both an original power of attorney and a copy to a notary public, I will compare the copy to the original to verify it is an accurate copy. Then I will complete a certified copy of power of attorney certificate. The certified copy of the original power of attorney then "has the same force and effect as the original power of attorney." (Probate Code section 4307)

A couple at a notary appointment