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Have proper identification and your filled out document(s). Your document should be completely filled out EXCEPT the signature, date, and notarial certificate. A Notary Public cannot notarize incomplete documents that contain blank spaces. If spaces are inapplicable and intended to be left unfilled, the signer should write “Not Applicable” or “N/A”. Please DO NOT fill out any portion of the Notarial Certificate. You must be aware of what you are signing and be willing to sign without coercion.

Let the Notary Public know which certificate you need and they will attach the appropriate certificate to your document. The Notary Public CANNOT advise you on which certificate to use, but will explain the difference. If you do not know which certificate you need, the Notary Public cannot proceed with the appointment.

An Acknowledgement is when a signer personally appears before the Notary, is identified, and acknowledges signing the document.

A Jurat is when a signer personally appears before the Notary, is identified, takes an oath or affirmation, in which they swear or affirm, under penalties of perjury that the information in the document is true to the best of their belief and knowledge.

The following are acceptable forms of identification in the State of Florida:

Please Note: All signers are required to be identified to prevent fraud and forgeries. If witness signatures need notarization, they must also present valid identification.  YOUR ID MUST MATCH THE NAME ON YOUR DOCUMENT(S)

If the signer cannot produce and is unable to obtain proper identification, they must provide two credible witnesses, who are personally known to them, and who both have acceptable forms of identification.  To ensure truthfulness, the Notary must obtain a sworn, written statement from each credible witness, and the following must be true:

In Florida, notaries are authorized to attest to the trueness of photocopies of certain documents, also known as certified photocopies.  In order to do so, the notary must be presented with the original document, not a photocopy or certified copy.  The document cannot be a public record, and the making of the photocopy must be supervised or made by the Notary Public.  A Notary Public CANNOT make attested copies of any public record which are available from a public official such as Birth Certificates, Death Certificates, Documents for a Court proceeding, or income tax returns to name a few.

An Apostille is simply the name for a specialized certificate, issued by the Secretary of State, that confirms the authenticity of an official signature on a document. The Apostille is attached to your original document to verify it is legitimate and authentic so it will be accepted in one of the other countries that participate in the Hague Convention of 1961.  Federally-issued documents require an Apostille directly from the U.S. Department of State.  If the country where you are going to be using the document is not a part of the Hague Convention additional certification through the U.S. Secretary of State and appropriate Embassy will be needed.

You may be traveling to a country that will require documentation for one reason or another.  Some of those reasons may be you are having a destination wedding, adopting a child overseas, becoming a dual citizen, or inherited a property in a foreign country. The foreign country may require the documents be authenticated to ensure the signatures on the document are .

In order to execute any type of estate planning documents such as Durable Power of Attorney, Last Will and Testament, Living Will, Healthcare Surrogate Designation, etc., the signer must be aware of what they are signing and must be willing to sign without coercion.  This means if your loved one is suffering from Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, they must sign in a moment of lucidity, be aware of the contents in the document they are about to sign, and be willing to sign without being coerced otherwise we cannot proceed with the notarization. In this case, we recommend consulting with a licensed Elder Law attorney to discuss your options.  We are happy to refer you to a reputable Elder Law attorney, if needed.