Arthur R. Lehman, L.L.C.

What is a notary?

Last week, readers of the New York City Business and Commercial Law Blog may have read the post about the importance of getting important business documents notarized in order to avoid contract disputes. The question that follows then is who has the authority to notarize documents?

A notary public is someone who has commission from the government of either the country or the state that allows that person to witness signatures and officially acknowledge them. If the signer is required to make an oath regarding the authenticity of the documents and he makes such oath in front of the notary, it carries with it a perjury penalty. It is important to keep in mind that a notary notarizes signatures, not documents. Contracts, deeds and powers of attorneys are examples of documents that could be notarized.

The notary public is considered a reliable witness and can be called upon to testify that they witnessed the relevant parties sign the document. Generally, it is law that notaries be bonded by insurance companies and if they have failed to verify the signatures or the identification papers of the people signing the document, the insurance company that provided their bond may very likely be able to held responsible for damages that a business incurs due to the notary's mistakes.

Business disputes can take a variety of forms and often involve legalities that are too complex for laymen to grasp. However, consulting an experienced attorney while forming a business to ensure paperwork is completed to avoid contract disputes and during a dispute to sort out the matter may be one way New York residents can come out on top of their legal problems.

Source: National Notary Association, "What Is a Notary Public?" Accessed April 9, 2015

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