Notaries have been an integral part of our society for decades. The first notaries can be traced back to ancient Egypt when scribes were established. Scribes would keep records of public proceedings and transcribe important documents. Performing such acts at that time increased the authority of the notary public, resulting in the responsibilities that notaries hold today.
Notaries are public officials appointed by the state to serve as impartial witnesses to transactions, thereby helping to deter fraud. Having a document notarized means the signer must appear before the notary and be identified. The notary observes the signer’s willingness and ability to understand the document and watches the signer place or acknowledge their signature on the document. Finally, the notary makes a complete, chronological entry for the notarization in the notary journal.
You may still find yourself asking: why are notaries necessary? It seems everything can be done on the internet, from signing a mortgage to giving testimony in court. During the pandemic, government and industry increasingly used online alternatives to serve the public while maintaining quarantine and social distancing requirements.
But technology, such as remote online notarization (RON), hasn’t replaced the need for notaries public. In fact, RON has become another option for providing notarial services.
All the steps a notary must take are intended to prevent fraud and assure the receiver of the document that the notary performed his or her duties according to the law. All of these steps are also incorporated into RON transactions, with the additional safeguard of having an audio video recording of the notarial act.
Even in the electronic age, the office of notary public is still an important function.