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When you are asked to notarize a document, make sure you are not notarizing for a family member that way you will protect the integrity of your notarization you must then make sure that the document is filled out before you notarize it. If there are any blanks on the document, you must have the signer complete it because it is illegal to notarize blank documents.

To correctly notarize a document, you will need to follow a few steps to properly notarize the document:

  • The signer must personally appear in front of the notary willingly, without being coerced
  • The signer will need a valid photo ID
  • Look over the document to make sure the name matches the ID
  • Record the information in a journal to keep proper notarial records
  • Complete and/or attach the notarial certificate (If it is not included under the signature, the signer must select the certificate to attach)
  • Sign the document and stamp with your notary seal

A document that has been already signed, if the signer is present before the notary and acknowledges that is their signature, the notary can proceed and notarize the document, or the signer can sign it again in front of the notary. Handwritten documents and contracts are completely legal and can also be notarized you will need to attach a notarial certificate.

Remember that notarization is a three-step process, performed by the notary, that includes vetting, certifying, and record-keeping. The Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibilities includes protecting the signer’s privacy by having the notary not keeping copies of their ID or documents they notarized.