A notary public is a professional granted credentials by state government to act as a witness to the execution of important documents, to reduce the risk of fraud in certain transactions. Typically, paperwork related to transfers of real estate, estate planning documents, powers of attorney and some loan documentation will require a notary public seal. If you require notary services often, you probably have questions about the cost of a notary public, especially if your needs are ongoing. There are a few factors to consider when looking at how much it costs to retain a notary professional.
Legal Responsibilities of a Notary Public
State laws regarding legal responsibilities of a notary public vary, but there are some common tasks that a notary professional will perform regardless of jurisdiction.
Identification & Presence of Signatory
The person signing the document must be physically present before the notary public, so a notarization via fax or video isn’t sufficient. The purpose for physical presence is so the notary can ensure that the signer understands his or her actions and is willing to sign. In addition, the notary will confirm the identity of the signatory. Rarely, will the signer be personally known to the notary, so the individual must usually supply a government issued ID.
Review of Documents
The notary public will examine the document to be signed to ensure that it’s an original with no prior signatures or executions upon it. Copies or faxes of paperwork cannot be notarized if they already include a signature, because they would not be originals.
Notary Language & Seal
The actual language will vary by state, but it will typically include a statement that the document is “Subscribed and sworn to before me this [date].” This terminology is intended to demonstrate that the notarial act occurred contemporaneously with the execution of the document. In addition, the notary is required to apply their notarial seal or stamp alongside the notarial language and signatures.
There may be other notary services involved with executing paperwork, depending on the type of document and/or legal requirements.
At times, a signer is required to formally declare that they acknowledge the execution of a document. This means that he or she:
- Understands the contents and intent of the paperwork;
- Admits that the signature is his or her own; and,
- Signs the documents under free will and without coercion.
Documents and transactions that may require an acknowledgement are powers of attorney, agreements that involve transfers of real estate, and estate plans.
Oath & Affirmation
Some documents require the signer to swear to a notary that the contents of the document are true, such as a written affidavit where the signatory has supplied certain facts. Documents filed with a court commonly require that a litigant provide an oath and affirmation that the statements made within are true and correct.
State Limits on Notary Services
Just like state laws vary with respect to notary credentials and the notarization process, each jurisdiction places a limit on how much notaries can charge for their services. Specifically, laws place a ceiling on the fees allowed for single-page, single-signature notarizations. If documents require multiple notary seals on several pages, or if more than one person is presenting for notarization, these limits do not apply. In general, the cost of a notary public starts at around $1.50 per page in some states, ranging up to around $10.00. The lowest maximum charge in the U.S. is Kentucky, at $.50. Several states place no limit, so notaries are allowed to charge any amount; however, you’ll find that most notary professionals want to be competitive, so rates should be reasonable.
Various Notary Public Services
Notary Public for Mortgage Documents
Notarization is required for execution of mortgage documents, but lenders, title companies and attorneys don’t always have the resources to keep a notary public on staff permanently. Plus, scheduling can be difficult when it’s necessary to get notarized signatures from multiple people, in several locations, outside of typical 9am-5pm business hours. A notary public can travel to various locations to witness signatures and perform other necessary notarial acts to ensure the mortgage documents are properly executed.
Structured Settlement Notarization
Structured settlements are the most common way of making payments after you’ve won a personal injury or disability case. The terms typically include monthly payments of a set amount, but there are provisions that allow you to sell the arrangement for a lump sum. In most cases, you’ll need court approval, which means filing properly notarized documents. A structured settlement notary can assist with executing the necessary paperwork.
Attorney Notary Services
There are a multitude of legal documents that attorneys prepare on a regular basis, and many of these must be notarized to be effective under state law. Divorce filings, estate planning documents and real estate transactions are just a few examples where a notary public is required. There are additional documents that, while not required to be notarized, will be easier to enforce if the execution includes a notary seal. An affiliation with a notary public is useful to ensure these professionals are there when you need them. Plus, a traveling notary can be onsite as necessary. This is especially useful when executing wills or powers of attorney for patients that are bed-bound in a nursing home or hospital.
Auto Notary Public
More car dealerships are taking advantage of auto notary public services to reduce their risk of theft and credit fraud when consumers are purchasing vehicles. Fraudulent car buying is an attractive scheme for shysters who want a valuable target that they can get rid of easily, and pocket the cash. Auto notary services speed up the loan process, saving sales people time and putting them on the floor where they make money.
Subpoena Notary Services
Law firms and independent attorneys must often serve subpoenas for court proceedings, but the task can be daunting. It involves pinpoint accuracy, persistence and proper organization. A subpoena notary service has experience with service and knowledge of the relevant state laws, to ensure there are never any questions on proper service which would delay court proceedings.
Mobile Notary Public
There are numerous benefits for retaining a mobile notary public, to perform the above services as well as many others required by law – or recommended to avoid fraud.
- Flexible Scheduling: A mobile notary public can work with your schedule, with all arrangements handled in advance. All you need to do is arrive on time.
- Saves You Time: Transportation and traffic hassles can consume a lot of your time, which is better spent focusing on your business.
- Cost Effective: Mobile notary service save you money because your time is valuable. There is typically a charge for mileage, but notaries must abide by state law with respect to the fees for actual services.
Obviously, cost will be a consideration when you’re looking to retain notary services. However, it’s just as important to choose the right notary public to suit your needs, and who has the right training and credentials as required by state law. In addition, you should always retain a notary public or notary signing agent that provides quality customer care and professionalism. Finally, when the circumstances require it, consider using a mobile notary public to save time and money with the notarization process.