In most real estate transactions, one or more documents must be acknowledged in front of a notary public before they can be recorded with the county recorder.
In our system, the recordation of documents, such as deeds and deeds of trust is essential to place the world on notice of the rights of persons holding interests in real property. The role of the notary public is an integral part of that system.
Notaries are licensed by the secretary of state and function as disinterested third parties whose duty it is to follow procedures that will reduce the possibility of fraudulent acts in the execution of conveying documents.
The party signing the document must "acknowledge" it to the notary. The most common type of notary's certificate confirms that the notary public has determined the identity of the person signing, that the person appeared in person, and that the person acknowledged signing the document.
A notary may now confirm the identity of the person signing if he has a personal acquaintance with that individual or by that person providing satisfactory evidence of identification, such as a driver's license or passport.
The vast majority of problems relating to a notary's confirmation are the result of the failure by the notary to take proper precautions, such as "notarizing" a document without knowing the person, or by not securing satisfactory evidence of his identity. The failure to take proper precautions may result in liability of the notary to a person who has relied upon the notary's certification.
The function of the notary is essential to our system. If it is properly carried out, all parties to a real estate transaction are better protected.