What is a Notary Public in Toronto and What do They Notarize?

At some point in their lives, most adults will need to have anything notarized.  The public’s understanding of what a notary does and how notarization works is frequently inaccurate.  This is especially true when a person presents a document to a Notary Public in Toronto, to be notarized, believing that the notarization will “legalize” the document. 

Even though several people are aware of the statement “notarize a paper” or “notarize a document”, it is usually the signature – not the document – that is the reason for the notary.  The law in Ontario makes this exceptionally clear to members of the public by requiring a notation above all notarial certificates that explains that the notarization only confirms the identity of the signatory, not the honesty, correctness, or soundness of the document.  This is generally the case in every province except Quebec. 

To better understand, consider the two most common types of notarial acts: acknowledgments and oaths.  “Notarizing a signature” is a term that refers to both actions.  The signer declares before the notary that he or she has freely executed the document by signing an acknowledgment.  The signer swears (or affirms) to the notary that the document’s contents are genuine and correct using an oath. 

In either case, the notary is unconcerned with or liable for the document’s contents.  The notary’s certificate solely attests to the fact that the stated individual appeared before him or her, was properly identified, and either acknowledged or swore to the document.  Note that notarization usually necessitates either a certificate of acknowledgment or a jurat; you should not simply sign your name and seal a document.  The signer is nonetheless responsible for the document’s contents. 

Although wise notaries should scan a document to ensure that it is fully completed before notarizing it, notaries are not obligated to read it for content.  The Notary Public in Toronto, on the other hand, should decline to notarize a signature on a document that they know is fraudulent or untrue.  Notaries should be especially cautious when notarizing sensitive papers that were written without the assistance of an attorney, such as estate planning paperwork or real estate contracts, because the public often feels that notarization will “legalise” their documents.  Explain to your consumer that notarization merely certifies the signature, and the notary’s seal only serves to identify the notary.

To summarise, notarization does not render a document “legal” or “official” in any way because notaries just publicise signatures, not the content of a document. It’s worth noting that a document that’s unlawful or untrue before it’s notarized is still illegal or false after it’s notarized.

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