Notary Glossary

Terms you may have seen or heard with regard to your document are defined below.

Acknowledgment – The positive identification of the signer by the notary through either personal knowledge or identification such as a driver’s license.

Affidavit – A written statement, signed before a notary, whereby the signer swears that the statement is true and correct to the best of the signer’s knowledge.

Affirmation – An oral promise, on the signer’s honor, that the information provided is true and correct to the best of the signer’s knowledge.

Apostille – Provided by the Secretary of State to indicate that the notary was commissioned and in good standing at the time of notarization. This lends authenticity to the document when it is used in Hague Convention countries.

Attorney in fact – A person who is given written authority to act on the behalf of another. The document giving the authority is a “power of attorney”.

Certificate – This wording contains the necessary information that constitutes a notarization. For example…”State of____, County of_____…Before me personally appeared_____”.

Coercion – When one is forced to do something through fear, intimidation, or threats. A notary will refuse to notarize a signature if it is clear that the signer is being forced to do so.

Certified Copy – An exact copy of an original document. In California, notaries may only certify copies of power of attorney documents.

Credible Witness – Someone who is personally known to the notary, who can swear to the identity of a signer, when the signer is not known to the notary.

Execute – To sign. Executed documents are merely signed documents.

Jurat – A type of notarization where the notary compels the signer to tell the truth through the administration of an oath. Document wording will include “sworn and subscribed”.

Notarial Certificate – The written act of a notary. This includes the state/county where notarization is performed, date, type of notarization, complete notary signature and title, and official seal.

Oaths – Administered by the notary to the signer to compel truth. See Affirmation above.

Power of Attorney – A type of document whereby the signer gives the individual named in the document full or limited power to act on the signer’s behalf.

Seal – In the case of the signer, the seal is their signature. In the case of the notary, the seal is their stamp.

Venue – The location where the notarization was performed.

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