Notarizations come in three typical forms: acknowlegements, jurats, and copy certifications. A Notary is appointed by the state as a ministerial official is not allowed to advise you on the type of notarization you need. You must be able to tell the Notary what type of notarization you need. Before you visit the Notary, you should review the types of notarial acts and confirm with the document drafter or receiving agency what type of notarization they require. If still in doubt, an attorney can guide you.
For a Notary to perform a notarization, the document must be complete and not have any blank spaces. Blank spaces on a document can make that document susceptible to fraud after the notarization has been performed.
In order to have their signature on a document notarized, a signer must be physically present before a Notary. Make sure all signers are available and can attend your notary appointment. Signatures cannot be notarized over the phone or via video calls such as Skype and Facetime.
Screening document signers for willingness and awareness is one of the basic duties of a Notary. The Notary will check to make sure that you are alert and mentally aware at the time of the notarization. They also make sure you are signing the document voluntarily and not under duress. For elderly or ill signers, it is important to make sure you are aware of what your transaction is about. If you aren't sure that you want to sign, address these issues before you go to the Notary.
It is very important that your name on the ID you are using matches your name on the document. If you have recently changed your legal name due to marriage, divorce, or other reasons, make sure you bring an ID which matches your name on the document. If there is a significant descrepancy - for example, your name on the ID is Jane Doe but your married name on the document is "Jane Doe-Smith" - then the Notary will not be able to notarize the document. You will have to provide an alternate acceptable form of identification that matches the name on the document.
ACCEPTABLE FORMS OF IDENTIFICATION ALLOWED IN CALIFORNIA
In California, any signer ID allowed under CA law must either be current, or if expired, must have been issued within the past five years. An expired ID that was issued more than five years prior to the date of the notarization takes place may not be accepted. This applies for both acknowledgements and jurats.
Notaries are strictly prohibited from giving legal advice to signers unless they are qualified attorneys. Notaries cannot fill in any part of the document except the notarial certificate wording, choose what type of notarial act is needed on your behalf, or advise you on the legal effects of a document.