WHAT IS A NOTARY PUBLIC AND WHY WOULD I NEED ONE?
Notaries public, also known as notaries, public notaries and notarial officers, have a long and distinguished history. Notaries can be traced back to ancient Rome, when they were known as scribae, or scribes.
Today, a notary public is public officer constituted by law to serve the public in non-contentious matters, such as being an impartial witness to taking acknowledgements, administering oath and affirmations and performing other acts authorized by law. Notarizing documents are the most common duties of a notary public. Documents, such as a sworn statement, a deed of trust, a certificate of identity, power of attorney, rental agreements and many more, are all notarized to prevent fraud, and to make sure that all signers have entered into agreements knowingly and willingly. A notary public also confirms citizens are who they say they are (not impostors).
Many different types of documents are required to be notarized by law. We most commonly work with banks and other financial institutions, city government agencies, law firms, private citizens, state and government agencies, federal government agencies, foreign agencies and law firms and private companies.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A CLOSING AGENT, A NOTARY AND A SIGNING AGENT?
Glad you asked! Even though these terms are often used interchangeably, they’re not the same.
Here are the distinctions:
A Notary Public is someone who has been appointed by their state to be an impartial witness to certain kinds of transactions. Even though notarization is an essential part to real estate transactions, just being commissioned does not necessarily qualify a person to recognize and identify various elements of loan documents.
A Closing Agent is the individual, typically from an escrow or title company, who is coordinating the assembly of the documents, disbursement of funds, and other duties associated with the closing of a loan. The closing agent may also be a notary, and will often locate a suitable signing agent through a service like Statewide Document Services. The word closing really refers to the signing part of the process. Once the paperwork is signed, the deal is ‘closed.’
A Signing Agent is a certified notary public who has become skilled in the signing portion of the mortgage loan closing process, through experience and/or education.
WHAT IS A WITNESS CLOSING?
This is sometimes referred to as a “courtesy closing.” In this situation, the lender obtains title evidence, payoffs, and all closing requirements. Signing agent takes the signer’s ID(s) and has documents executed appropriately.
WHO IS MY NOTARY?
Each state in the U.S. has slightly different requirements for notaries, but they are largely the same. In New Jersey, all notaries are commissioned by the NJ State Treasurer for a period of five years. The requirements for a notary in New Jersey are the following: (1) are over the age of 18; (2) are a resident of New Jersey OR is regularly employed in New Jersey and lives in an adjoining state; (3) have never been convicted of a crime under the laws of any state or the United States, for an offense involving dishonesty, or a crime of the first or second degree, unless the person has met the requirements of the Rehabilitated Convicted Offenders Act (NJSA 2A:168-1)