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Notary acts, certificates, and documents
A notary public will typically notarize various types of documents with various types of notary certificates. A notary public is not
authorized to choose the type of notary act to do or the type of notary certificate to attach to the document or use as wording within the
Notary public wording for the various types of notary acts varies on a state by state basis. Our staff is familiar with California notary public wording since we both reside within the state of California. If you need to learn about notary wording in your state, our sister site www.becomeanotary.us has notary law primers for many states such as California, Florida, New Jersey, New York, and many other states.
Common types of notarizations include acknowledgments, jurats, oaths, and copy certification by document custodian. There are other notary acts, but a typical notary will never experience doing even one of them during their commission, so I won't discuss them.
The purpose of an acknowledgment is for the signer to acknowledge that they signed the document in front of a notary public. The signer must appear before the notary, so you can't get an acknowledgment done online or have your wife get it done for you. In California, the signer would have to be satisfactorily identified for the notary to get an acknowledged signature. Acknowledged signatures are typical for deeds, powers of attorney, and many other types of documents although the notary may not decide what type of notarization to perform.
Jurats are the next most popular type of notarization. Many people are asked to attach a jurat form when they simply mean a notary certificate which six out of ten times is an acknowledgment certificate. Many laymen do not distinguish between the two which are completely different. In California, a Jurat requires the signer to sign in front of the notary while an acknowledgement does not. The signer must also swear under oath to the truthfulness of the document before the notary too which an acknowledgment does not. A Jurat didn't used to require identification in California, but now does. Its generally prudent for the notary to make sure the signer really understands the document they are swearing to by asking a few questions about the content of the document. Many signers will just swear without even reading the document.
A sworn oath requires the notary to administer an oath and make a record of the oath in the notary journal although there may or may not be paperwork associated with the oath.
Copy certification by document custodian
Many people need to have certified copies of passports or university transcripts. Notaries can only certify a copy of a power of attorney, however, they can use a copy certification by document custodian form which is a custom form so that the document custodian can swear to the truthfulness and completeness of the copy. Its generally advised that the notary is present when the copies are made so he can oversee to prevent any potential fraud. This type of notarization is really a Jurat with some extra verbiage to identify the document that is being copied.