Frequently Asked Questions

Below are the top questions asked regarding notary services.

What is a notary public?


In Arizona, a notary public is a public officer and impartial witness commissioned by the Secretary of State to perform notarial acts as defined within the Arizona Revised Statutes. A notary is not an attorney and is not responsible for reviewing the content of the document or determining its legality. The act of applying a notary seal is for verification purposes only. The use of the abbreviated term “notary” defines a notary public.




What services does a notary provide?


A notary’s duty is to verify the person or persons signing a document required to contain an executed signature.




What is the difference between notaries and a notarios?


In Hispanic countries, notarios publicos are highly trained legal professionals akin to attorneys who provide legal advice and draft legal documents. In the United States, however, notaries are state-commissioned officials with narrow witnessing duties and much less discretion.




What is the difference between a notary and a signing agent?


Certification. Both a notary and signing agent are fully commissioned notaries but a signing agent is additionally trained in the proper review and execution of real estate documents. A signing agent reviews a mortgage loan package with borrowers and ensures that signatures are properly applied. Any notary can become a signing agent with further training as directed by the state that has commissioned them.




Will the notary determine which notarial certificate is to be used?


No, the customer must identify which attachment they want used. Because state law imposes statutory requirements for certain instruments to be legally valid, a notary public may not, of his or her own initiative, decide which notarial certificate to add to a document that does not include one. The notary may be accused of practicing law without a license for such action. Furthermore, if a notary public adds an incorrect notarial certificate to a document that causes it to be invalid, it may subject the notary to civil and criminal liability. The notary’s responsibility in such situations is to decline the notarization as a preventative measure.




Can I sign the document outside of the notary’s presence?


It depends on the notarization type to be completed. Although it is preferred that you sign the document requiring acknowledgment in the presence of the notary in order for a notary to issue an acknowledgement, it is not necessary for the document to be signed in his or her presence. However, the signer must still appear before the notary at the time of the acknowledgement to swear he or she freely signed for the purposes stated in the document under his or her own will. However, some services, such as jurats, require the document actually be signed in the notary’s presence. A jurat requires the wording “subscribed and sworn to” on the document just above where the notary public signs his or her name.




What is the difference between a jurat and an acknowledgement?


A jurat is used when the signer is swearing to the content of the document. The notary must administer an oath or affirmation to the signer in order to complete the jurat. A jurat also requires that the signer signs in the presence of the notary. An acknowledgement is used to verify the identity of the signer and to confirm that they signed the document. They are not swearing to the truthfulness or validity of the document, they are simply acknowledging that they signed the document.




What is the difference between an apostille and authentication?


An apostille authenticates the seals and signatures of officials on public documents such as birth certificates, court orders, or any other document issued by a public authority so that they can be recognized in foreign countries that are members of the 1961 Hague Convention Treaty. Authentication certificates are used for destination nations that are not part of the Hague Convention. Instead of a single apostille, the document needs several authentication certificates, including those from your commissioning agency, the U.S. Department of State, the consul of the destination country and potentially another government official in the destination country. Both are attached by an appropriate government official after the aforementioned document is notarized. A notary is only responsible for notarizing the actual document. The notary is not able to issue either an apostille or authentication certificate.




Can a document copy be certified?


Yes, as long as the original is produced. The notary will make the copy for certification. In Arizona the only documents allowed to be copied and certified are birth, death, marriage, divorce, court and real estate records.




Can a notarization be refused?


A notary public may refuse to perform a notarization if he or she cannot be certain of a prospective signer’s identity, willingness, or understanding of what is happening at that moment. In addition, a notary may not notarize a document in which he or she has a financial interest.




When can a notarization be refused?


There are few reasons when notary public, by law, must refuse notarizing the document:

  • The notary cannot verify the identity of the signer through official identification or credible witnesses;
  • The notary has a beneficial or financial interest in the document;
  • The notary is unable to communicate with the signer (person is not mentally competent to sign);
  • The notary has knowledge that the transaction is fraudulent;
  • The signer did not personally appear before the notary at the time of the notarization;
  • The document contains blank spaces;




What is considered official identification?


  • U.S. Driver’s License
    • the presentation of a foreign license for the purpose of identification is not accepted in Arizona - except when conducting real estate transactions
  • U.S. Passport
    • the presentation of a foreign passport for the purpose of identification is not accepted in Arizona - except when conducting real estate transactions
  • Armed Forces ID
  • Government Issued ID
  • Credible person(s)




How do I choose the right notary?


For convenience purposes, you want to find a notary or signing agent that’s located near the place you’ll be reviewing and/or executing paperwork. Always make sure your notary or signing agent has the proper commission, bonding and insurance as required by your state and remember that only a notary signing agent has the additional training necessary to work through the mortgage process with you.




How do I contact Keller & Associates?


Send any questions, concerns or feedback to support@kellerandassocs.com




How do I ensure a proper notarization?


To ensure a proper notarization please be sure to have available at the time of your appointment the item to be notarized and at least one of the forms of identification listed in the answer above.





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