The Role of the Notary
Notary Public Defined: A notary public is a person of integrity appointed by the Governor to serve the public as an impartial and unbiased witness. The most common function of the notary is to prevent fraud by witnessing and attesting that a person signing a document is authentic. The responsibilities of a notary public are critical to the legal, business, financial and real estate communities in this state. The most common function of the Notary is to prevent fraud by attesting that a person actually signed a document
Notarization of Documents
Notarization is the "act of witnessing" by the Notary Public in accordance with specifications of state law. Notarization involves signed documents and requires the Notary to ensure the signer's identity and willingness to sign. The notarization of a document WILL: detect and deter fraud when the proper steps of notarization are followed.
However, a notarization DOES NOT: (1) prove the truthfulness of statements contained in the document, (2) legalize or validate the document, or (3) by itself protect a person's rights to his/ her artistic creations or inventions.
3 Steps of Notarization
The process of notarization involves three critical steps that a Notary Public should always follow: Screen the signer; Make a journal entry; Complete the notarial certificate.
Screen the Signer: You should always screen the signer. Ensure that the person or persons signing the document(s) are who they say they are. Ask for an I.D. with their signature to verify who they are. Personal Appearance by all individual(s) requesting notarization is required at the time of notarization in ALL instances. Determine Willingness - Make sure the signer is not being forced to sign the document. If you suspect coercion, it is best to refuse to notarize. Determine Awareness - Do not notarize the document if you have a reasonable belief that the person signing the document is not aware of the significance of the transaction. Determine Identity - You must have satisfactory evidence that a person is the individual whose true signature is on the document.
Make a Journal Entry: Although having a journal is not required in Minnesota, we highly recommend you have a journal and make a journal entry of all notarial activity, whether you notarize the document or you refuse to notarize it. Provide enough detail that might be relevant, in case of fraud.
Complete the Notarial certification: Affix your stamp or seal to the document and sign it and date it after you have witnessed the signer(s) sign the document(s) and verified that they have provided valid I.D.s that confirm their identity and signature.
Download a printable version of our Notary Public Brochure and use it as a guide to assist you as a new or existing Notary Public with some basic fundamentals of notarization.
The Minnesota Bookstore website offers information on the term of office, oath, bond, the taking of depositions, removal from office and other notary public interest items from Minnesota Statutes Chapter 357.17, 358 and 359.01-.12.