What is a Notary Public?
A notary public is an individual commissioned by the Secretary of State to perform a notarial act. A notarial act is performed under the law of North Dakota, including:
- Taking an acknowledgement;
- Administering an oath or affirmation;
- Taking a verification on oath or affirmation;
- Witnessing or attesting a signature;
- Certifying or attesting a copy; and
- Noting a protest of a negotiable instrument.
A notary public is a considered a "public ministerial officer" who is an impartial agent of the state commissioned to witness notarial writings and signatures. Prior to notarizing a document, a notary should ask himself or herself three questions:
- Am I a party to the transaction?
- Am I named in the document?
- Do I have any financial or beneficial interest in this transaction?
If the answer to ALL of these questions is no, the notary is an impartial witness. If the notary answers yes to any one of these questions, the notary should not notarize the document.
Oath of a Notary Public
A commissioned notary public is an officer of the state and when applying to become commissioned, he or she executes the following Oath of Office:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of the State of North Dakota and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of Notary Public according to the best of my ability, so help me God or under pains & penalties of perjury.
It is important that a notary public remember this oath and act with integrity when performing notarial duties.
What Does the Act of Notarization Accomplish?
The act of notarization is more than simply a clerical procedure. Notarization protects against fraud. A notarized signature proves the signer appeared before the notary public because the signer must be in the physical presence of the notary before the notary may lawfully notarize the document. The notary also certifies that a signature is made willingly and freely. However, a notarization does not prove a document or statement is true or accurate, nor does a notarization validate or legalize a document.