Here are a few FAQ’s that may help you as a notary public.

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Question: What is the purpose of a notary public?

Answer: A notary public is a person of integrity who is appointed to act as an impartial witness to the signing of an important transaction and to perform a notarial act, which validates the transaction. A notary’s primary purpose is to prevent fraud and forgery by requiring the personal presence of the signer and satisfactorily identifying the signer.

Question: What is a notary bond?

Answer: The notary bond is a type of surety bond issued by an approved surety company to protect the public against any wrongdoing on the part of the notary. The surety company guarantees to the public that you, as a notary public, will perform your duties in accordance with the laws, and if you do not, the company will pay any damages caused by the incorrect notarization up to the amount of the bond.

Question: Are notary fees taxable as income?

Answer: Yes. A good way to keep up with your notary fees is to record the amount charged for each notarization in your record book. You will want to consult your tax adviser for specific information about reporting notary fees as income.

Question: Do I have any liability as a notary?

Answer: Yes. The public counts on notaries to perform their duties properly. By making an error on a notarization, you could cause someone to lose his property or be responsible for a multi-million-dollar transaction being voided. As a result, a court could find you liable for the loss and enter a judgment against you. Most bond companies demand repayment if they pay a claim against you. In addition, whatever your bond does not pay, you would be liable for.

Question: How do I limit my liability?

Answer: Know and follow the notary laws of your state; take responsibility for your own notary education; keep informed about law changes; never make any exceptions for anyone; use reasonable care and common sense in performing your duties; carry Errors and Omissions Insurance; and keep good records.

Question: How do I administer an oath for a document to be signed?

Answer: Assuming that the document is ready for notarization, and that the signer has been satisfactorily identified and is willing to sign the document, you administer the oath by asking a simple question: “Do you solemnly swear that the information contained in this document is the truth, so help you God?” For an oath, you must witness the person signing the document.

Question: How do I take an acknowledgment?

Answer: Assuming that the document is ready for notarization, and that the signer has been satisfactorily identified and is willing to sign the document, you take the signer’s acknowledgment by asking a simple question: “Do you acknowledge and declare that this is your signature, that you understand this document, and that you willingly signed the document for the purposes stated herein?”

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