By Jed McKeehan
From time to time I will draft documents for individuals that they will take with them and they will need to go get someone else’s signature on those documents for the documents to be fully executed. Or I might email documents to be printed off, signed, and returned to me. In addition to those documents needing to be signed, the documents will also have to be notarized.
I wrote about what a notary is and what they do several years ago, but as a quick refresher (in case you are not religiously reading my articles), a notary is an unpaid public official who has been approved by the state to verify individuals’ identities who are executing documents. Their primary purpose is to deter fraud in the execution of important documents. Without them, the risk of forged signatures on important legal documents rises.
But back to the initial question, as to where to find a notary to notarize documents. Perhaps surprisingly, this question comes up a lot. Most people do not personally know anyone who is a notary. So where do they find one?
My go to answer is always a bank. Almost every bank branch has a notary on staff who can notarize documents. In addition, most UPS and FedEx stores advertise that they have notaries on staff available to notarize documents. Of course, law firms almost have to have notaries on staff because so many documents that they create require notarization. At my office, we have no less than seven notaries on staff. I am sure that if you are in a pinch, you can find the closest attorney’s office and they will be able to notarize documents for you.
At all of these locations, be prepared to produce a current picture identification as the notary is not allowed to notarize documents without that identification unless they personally know you.
Another question that often arises is the place where the notarization must occur. On documents to be notarized, the state and county where the document is to be notarized must be stated. When a law firm or title company pre-prints the state and the county where they are located, I have seen some individuals think they have to travel from out of state to the state and county listed to sign the documents and have them notarized. That is not the case. Simply cross out the state and county listed and have the notary hand write in the state and county where you obtain the notarization.
Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties. He works in many areas, including criminal, personal injury, landlord-tenant, probate, and estate planning. Visit attorney-knoxville.com for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.