Signers often present documents to Notaries that lack proper notarial certificates. Without the state-approved certificate wording, a Notary’s signature and seal have little meaning because the wording describes what type of notarization was performed — such as an acknowledgment or jurat — and what procedures the Notary followed. Therefore, the NNA’s Recommended Notary Practices encourages all Notaries to:
Always attach a Notary certificate if wording is not already printed on the document.
While a Notary should always make sure the proper wording is attached to a document, the Notary should never chose what type of wording is used because that would be giving legal advice — something Notaries are not allowed to do unless they also are licensed to practice law. The signer should tell the Notary what type of notarization is needed. Once the certificate is completed, the Notary should always attach it to the document. Many certificates contain a space for optional information. It is always a good idea to include a description of the document being notarized to make it difficult for anyone to remove the certificate and attach it to another document.
Editor’s Note: Throughout 2011, the Notary Bulletin will focus on one of the NNA’s Recommended Notary Practices each month. The complete list of Recommended Notary Practices is available online.