NOTARY – THE PUBLIC OFFICER
What exactly is the Notary or Notary Public? What can he/she do actually? Who authorizes them to do what they do? Good questions all!
Let’s see if we can de-mystify these people!
First of all, the Notary is appointed to public office by the Governor of a state. The notary must have taken and passed the state administered notary exam. The responsibilities and duties afforded the notary is set by state law.
Notice that each state has different laws that pertain to their notary office. The responsibilities and duties of the notary are different for each state. Many states have similar laws, and some may be the same. Louisiana laws are different from the other 49 states, so if you are reading this, and do not live in Louisiana, you may want to explore the Notary laws of your state. The state of Louisiana is unique as notaries go.
There are many requirements for Louisiana Notaries, and the test is a rigorous test, which is rarely passed on the first try. The test is all encompassing, takes about five(5) years to pass, sometimes more for some, and does focus on the laws of the state.
The Notary takes an oath of office, and is required to file the oath with the Secretary of State and Court in the Parish of the Notaries Commission. This oath is the same as that of any public officer in the state.
Qualifications for the office must be maintained in order for the notary to exercise the powers and duties of this public office. The notary exercises his power independent of the state and is considered as providing a service to the state. The notary acts are not a governmental function, but only ministerial acts. The notary may hold any state or governmental office without violating the dual office holding laws. In addition, the notary commission does not expire, as it does in all the other states.
Notaries are not subject to legislative audit and do not have to report their rates or fees charged to the state. The notary commission is not an office, trade, or profession, therefore, no occupational license or license tax is required. Notary fees are not subject to self-employment taxes or taxable by the Social Security Administration.
The NOTARY PUBLIC is subject to misconduct and illegal acts as a public official, and subject to prosecution for official misconduct.
If the notary intentionally refuses or fails to perform any lawful duty required of him/her or intentionally performs any such duties in an unlawful manner, this is called malfeasance in office, or if he/she knowingly permits any other public officer or employee under the notary’s authority to refuse or fails, as above stated, it is also called malfeasance in office, according to Louisiana R.S. 14:134. (Louisiana Revised Statute, article 14, section 134)
Penalties for malfeasance are imprisonment up to 5 years, and fines not to exceed $5,000.00. These are also set out in Louisiana R.S. 14:134.
There are more penalties that also apply. It is easy to see why a notary may refuse to notarize something that does not follow the allowable duties for the office. Bribery and corrupt influence are also covered under La R.S. 14:118. These can be found by anyone online. I encourage people to look them up. I know some things may seem boring to the average person, but laws are put into place to protect the public.
Some other things a notary can be judged on include forgery, injuring public records, by putting false information in official records, or amending information that is a matter of public record that others may depend on. Falsely representing public records is a major crime.
A notary commission in Louisiana is for life, (as long as the notary keeps current with information and criteria as mandated), but can be suspended. A notary must (is required to) carry liability insurance, bond, surety. Failure to do so will cause an automatic suspension. A notary CAN be removed from office under provisions of our state constitution. This would be done as impeachment by the State House of Representatives, and final conviction by the Senate.
Duties: The duties of a Notary Public in Louisiana are what makes a Louisiana Notary so different. The responsibilities are vast, and because of the similarities between a Notary and Attorney in this state (la), one must be very careful not to fall into the temptation to become an attorney, thereby overstepping the bounds of our appointment as Notaries.
The list that follows outlines most of the duties of the Notary. These are mandated by Title 35 of the Louisiana Revised Statues. General Powers of a notary within the parish they are commissioned (or statewide if the notary has statewide jurisdiction, which I do)
1. Make inventories, appraisements, partitions, affidavits or correction. 2. receive wills, make protests, matrimonial contracts, conveyances, 3. Hold family and creditor meetings 4. Receive acknowledgments of instruments under private signature 5. Affix seals upon effects of deceased persons and raise the same 6. Authentic acts (Civil Code Art. 1833) You can find this online by searching for it The most notable are things like title transfers, acts of donation, wills or testaments, trusts and so much more.
The commissioned notary shall have the authority to administer oaths in any parish in the state; to swear in persons who appear to give testimony at a deposition and to verify interrogatories and other pleadings to be used in court records of this state.
Only licensed attorneys and notaries that have taken the notary exam in or after June of 2005 may exercise their duties and powers as commissioned notaries anywhere in the state if they are commissioned in and for the parish where they live and are a registered voter.
There is much more information pertaining to the Notary Public in the State of Louisiana. This information is given so that a person can know and understand the diversity of the Notary in Louisiana. Please understand that not all states have the same responsibilities and duties under their state legislation. Check with your state of interest for more details if you like.
Some of the Vocabulary you may find useful:
PUBLIC OFFICE: Any state, district, parish or municipal office, elected or appointed, or any position as member on a board or commission, elected or appointed, when the office or position is established by the constitution or laws of this state.
PUBLIC OFFICER: Is any person holding a public office in this state.
MINISTERIAL: Refer to acts performed by notary as a service for a fee and not as a governmental function.
PARAPHING: The notation on a document to mark it for identification with another act.
Please note: Although this article refers to the powers and duties of the notary public, there is only one(1) authority in this world that matters. That authority directs, maintains, empowers, controls, and most importantly loves each of us. It is by this authority that we should request anything we believe we need, and by this authority we should act.
If you are unsure of what this authority is, you should call me, and I will share it with you. My phone number is (985) 870-8896