Legal Guides

We use plain and simple English to give you an overview of the most common areas of law.

How a Notary can help you

What is a notary?

A notary is a government-appointed official that has the authority to authenticate legal documents.

The notary public is a group of people that can be called upon to ascertain the accuracy of documents in way of subpoena, testimony or deposition. They’re commonly found in legal offices, banks, government offices or insurance firms. They serve to remind the public of the seriousness of certain dealings such as real estate transactions.

Types of notaries

Common Notary

These types of officials cannot provide you with legal advice.

Civil Law Notary

These are lawyers who can provide you with legal advice.

Both are authorised to prevent fraud by validating a document, witnessing its signing and taking of oaths. These notary public officials are not government employees so they charge fees to provide their services.

Their main duties include:

  • Administering oaths and affirmations
  • Taking affidavits and statutory declarations
  • Taking acknowledgements of deeds and other conveyance
  • Protesting notes and bills of exchange
  • Providing notice of foreign drafts

The role of notaries does not stop at just witnessing people sign documents. These officials have taken a state examination that qualifies them to perform this role. This means that they can take you through all the requirements that make a transaction legally binding. They will verify the identities and consent of the parties involved to eliminate any misrepresentation of the facts. They help prevent fraud, reducing legal disputes about the transaction.

A notary is in a position to help you know if the agreement you’re about to sign is in order and if it covers all the aspects of a transaction.

If this person is a lawyer, you will be able to get the legal implication of what you’re about to undertake. This way you can make a better judgment on the way forward. Public notaries will help you in drafting a document that is acceptable in law to ensure you are not swindled.

They also have ready-made documents that cover:

•    Estates

•    Deeds

•    Powers of attorney

•    Affidavits

•    Licenses

•    Contracts

•    Loans

•    Trusts

If you require their services, it is advisable to use a notary that is related to the business at hand. A good example is to use your bank, as they may offer you free service or charge you a small fee for the does documents. However, some documents such as affidavits, deeds, and powers of attorney will require you to specifically go to a civil law notary.

It is a good idea to make your transactions legal on a document as this will help clear facts now and in the future.

Author: Marty Burn, Oxford Notary Public

DISCLAIMER: This article should not be regarded as constituting legal advice in relation to particular circumstances. It is merely a general comment on the relevant topic. If specific advice is required in connection with any of the matters covered in this article, please speak to Marty Burn, Oxford Notary Public directly.

Published on 26th September 2019
(Last updated 7th May 2021)