Six NO-NO's for Every Notary to Avoid


The role of a notary public, often misconceived as a mere administrative formality, actually entails a myriad of substantial legal responsibilities. Notaries act as impartial overseers during the signing of documents, playing a pivotal role in safeguarding the sanctity of agreements and deterring fraudulent activities. Despite the ostensibly straightforward nature of their duties, notaries are confronted with a labyrinth of potential pitfalls. Failure to navigate these pitfalls with precision can result in dire legal consequences, ranging from accusations of fraud to allegations of professional misconduct. This article aims to delve deeper into some of the most consequential errors frequently committed by notaries, shedding light on their ramifications and emphasizing the imperative of vigilance in notarial practice.


  1. Notarizing in Absentia: At the heart of notarization lies the core objective of thwarting fraudulent practices and upholding the integrity of legal documents. Notarizing documents in the absence of the signer undermines this fundamental purpose, depriving notaries of vital opportunities to verify the authenticity of signatures and the willingness of signatories. Such a practice not only compromises the legitimacy of notarial acts but also contravenes the principles of identity verification, voluntariness, and document integrity. Participation in such acts exposes notaries to an array of legal risks, ranging from criminal charges for fraud to the potential revocation of their notarial commissions, as well as civil liability for any damages incurred due to reliance on the notarized documents.

  2. Backdating or Postdating Notarial Certificates: The intentional alteration of notarial certificates to reflect dates earlier or later than the actual notarization constitutes a flagrant act of fraud. By manipulating the date of notarization, individuals undermine the integrity of the entire notarial process, which relies heavily on the accurate documentation of the timing of notarial acts. The date affixed to a notarial certificate serves as a crucial timestamp, indicating the precise moment when the notary officially conducted the notarial act. Altering this date distorts the factual chronology of events, carrying grave legal implications and eroding the trustworthiness of the notarial system.

  3. Delegating Notarial Duties: The delegation of notarial duties to unauthorized individuals represents a blatant breach of both legal obligations and professional ethics. Notaries, entrusted with their authority by the state, bear the sole responsibility of performing notarial acts in accordance with prescribed legal standards. Personal oversight is imperative to ensure the compliance of notarial acts with legal requirements, including thorough verification of signer identities and comprehension. Delegating such responsibilities undermines the integrity of the notarial process and the legality of the documents involved, leaving notaries vulnerable to severe penalties, including fines, criminal charges, and the revocation of their notarial commissions.

  4. Notarizing Fraudulent Documents: Central to the legal framework governing notarial acts is the imperative to combat fraud and uphold the integrity of signed documents. Notaries are duty-bound to serve as impartial witnesses, verifying the identities of signatories and ensuring their informed consent in entering into agreements. Willful participation in the notarization of fraudulent documents constitutes a grave betrayal of the public trust reposed in notaries, implicating them in the perpetration of fraud and exposing them to significant legal repercussions.

  5. False or Misleading Advertising: Notaries are obliged to advertise their services accurately, refraining from employing misleading claims regarding their legal authority or professional qualifications. Advertising oneself as a "notario publico" in the United States, particularly when targeting immigrant communities, is highly deceptive and potentially fraudulent due to the stark disparities in roles between notaries in the U.S. and their counterparts in Latin American countries. Compliance with jurisdictional laws and regulations pertaining to notarial practice and advertising is indispensable to prevent the dissemination of misleading information and to uphold professional integrity.

  6. Allowing Coercion or Duress: A cornerstone of notarial practice is the assurance that signatories act of their own volition and free will. Notaries are duty-bound to refuse to notarize documents in instances where coercion or duress is suspected, as ignoring such signs would compromise the integrity of the notarial act and expose notaries to legal liabilities.


In order to discharge their duties effectively and uphold the highest standards of professionalism, notaries must remain ever-vigilant against these potential pitfalls. Continuous education, unwavering adherence to ethical principles, and a comprehensive understanding of notarial laws are indispensable prerequisites for notaries seeking to safeguard themselves and the integrity of the documents they notarize. In essence, notaries serve as custodians of trust in the execution of legal documents, and by steering clear of these pitfalls, they honor their obligation to uphold the law and serve the public interest.


Legal Disclaimer: The Spokane Notary Group endeavors to furnish accurate and current information within our blog postings. However, it is imperative to recognize that the content provided in our blogs are intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. We do not hold ourselves out as attorneys, and we make no warranties regarding the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of the information presented. It is strongly advised that you seek the counsel of a licensed attorney for any legal matters. Under no circumstances shall the Spokane Notary Group, its employees, or contractors be held liable to you for any claims, penalties, losses, damages, or expenses arising in connection with the use of the information contained in our blogs. This includes, but is not limited to, direct or indirect losses, as well as consequential losses. It is your responsibility to familiarize yourself with the applicable notary laws governing your state. Notaries are encouraged to consult with their state's notary authorities or legal professionals if they have inquiries of a legal nature. In the event that any portion of this disclaimer is deemed unlawful or unenforceable by a court or other competent authority, the remaining sections of this disclaimer shall remain in full force and effect.