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Exploring the Role of a Notary Public in Society (I Want to Be One!)

For a couple years now I have wanted to become a notary public. I don't remember what sparked my interest in this but it has stayed with me. So, a couple weeks ago I mentioned it to Chris and he thought it was a good idea and encouraged me to take action. I'm great at dreaming and coming up with good ideas but not always so good at taking action. It seems like everything worth doing has so many steps to take to actually do it that I find myself getting lost in the details and never making any real progress. Anyway, he encouraged the idea and every few days he would, and still does, ask me how it's going and where I am in the process. I love it, because it keeps me on track and I don't let it get lost in the blur of things that happen here every day.

So I've sent in the application and the fee, and am waiting for the approval. While I'm waiting for that I have been reading about the history and roles of notaries public ( I had to google the proper way to write the plural of notary public), and watching videos. And I've found some interesting tidbits of information.

Some Notary Public History

In Ancient Egypt there was no such thing as cash. Instead there was a complex bartering system and items were weighed as part of everyday transactions. A scribe (or sesh) recorded the weight and certified the transaction. This tradition continues today amount the Baladi Egyptians.

In the Roman Empire, Roman notaries, known as "scribae" or "tabelliones" were very important in the running of the Roman empire, They recorded public proceeding, transcribed speeches, drew up legal documents and acted as safeguards against forgery and fraud.

During the middle ages notaries were appointed by the Pope to handle ecclesiastical documents and serve the church. These notaries were known as "notarius" or "notaires." In time the role of notaries extended beyond the church and they became an important part of the trade between cities and nations. They were responsible for recording a variety of documents including bills of exchange and commercial documents.

European settlers brought the notary profession to the New World, Thomas Fugil was appointed as the first notary public in America in 1639. Throughout the early development of America notaries played an important role, recording wills, land grants, and other important documents. In 1957 Raymond Clarence Rothman formed a national organization of U.S. notaries.

The Role of the Notary Public Now

Today notaries public continue to play a vital role in the day to day affairs of society. They serve as impartial witnesses to authenticate transactions and documents across many areas of life. They verify the identity of signers, ensure that documents are signed willingly, and affix their seal and signature to confirm the notarization. And, through the wonder of technology notaries can now authenticate documents remotely through secure video conferencing.

What Types of Documents Need To Be Notarized?

There are many types of documents that need to be notarized. Most of these documents fall in to one of three categories - financial, business and legal.

Financial Documents

Financial documents needing notarization include:

  • Mortgage closing documents

  • Property deeds

  • Loan documents

  • Some credit documents

  • Financial Statements

Legal Documents

Legal documents needing notarization include:

  • Wills and trust deeds

  • Advance directives

  • Custody/guardianship agreements

  • Executorships

  • Court documents

  • Power of attorney

  • Affidavit of forgery

  • Identity theft victim's complaint and affidavit

Business Documents

  • Vendor/supplier contracts

  • Articles of incorporation

  • Commercial leases

  • Employment contracts


So now I'm just waiting for my notice to be sent to me so that I can claim my commission from the court and join the ranks of notaries public. I think it will be an interesting journey.

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