Notaries are “ministerial” officials who are required to follow a set of oath instructions and understand Wisconsin state Notary Laws. The definition of a notary’s job is: to properly identify document signers, complete certificates, ensure compliance, and follow instructions. It is the execution of these responsibilities, with the multiplicity of ID’s, Forms and procedures that require a properly trained, knowledgable, and professional Notary. The Notary’s job functions are to witness or verify the signing of documents, administer oaths when they are required by notarizing text. A false statement made to a Notary, under Oath, is Perjury; exactly the same as a false statement made under Oath in a Court of Law. Notarization is serious legal business.
Some of the usual and customary notarial functions include:
- Administering Oaths and Affirmations.
- Taking Affidavits and Depositions.
- Receiving and certifying Acknowledgments or proof of such written instruments as Deeds, Mortgages, and Powers of Attorney.
- Demanding acceptance or payment of foreign inland Bills of Exchange, Promissory Notes and Obligations in Writing, and protesting the same for nonpayment.
- Copy Certifications.
A notary is not responsible for verifying truth or accuracy of the contents of a document. A notary does not make documents Legal, Official or Validated. A document with errors or discrepancies prior to notarization will contain the same errors if notarized. In the process of performing their job functions, notaries try to prevent fraud, and compel truthfulness.
Oaths are verbal pledges to a Supreme Being with a legal purpose that a person will attest faithfully and truthfully Oaths must be given in person, and may be administered any time, day or night. Notaries may give any oath required by state law, including oaths of office to public officials. A notary “administers” or “gives” an oath. The person who “takes” an oath or “swears to it” is called a constituent.
An affirmation is an act in which a notary certifies that a person made a voluntary vow in the presence of a notary under the penalty of perjury. There is no reference to a Supreme Being in an affirmation. It is a solemn declaration made by a constituent who declines to take an oath for religious reasons or conscientious scruples.
In taking a verification upon oath, or affirmation for an affidavit, deposition or other sworn document, the notary must execute a Jurat. The purpose of a Jurat is to compel truthfulness. The notary appeals to the signer’s conscience and requires him/her to swear to the truthfulness of the document’s content under criminal penalties for perjury. Sometimes a Jurat (Latin for oath) is executed without reference to a document, as with the oath of office given to a public official.
An affidavit is a written statement signed by a person who asserts it to be true and makes the assertion upon oath or affirmation. It is a declaration reduced to writing, signed by the affiant (the person making an affidavit), and sworn to in person before an officer. It is also known as “verification upon oath or affirmation”.
Disclaimer: A Notary Public is not an Attorney at Law and it is illegal for a Notary to give any form of Legal Advice.