Notary Services

Cooke, Lavender, Massey, & Company, P.C., is pleased to offer notary services to our current accounting and bookkeeping clients in the New River Valley.  At this time our notary services are not available to non-clients.

What is a Notary Public?

A notary public (or notary) verifies the authenticity of important documents and transactions. In Virginia, a notary is a public official appointed by the Governor to be a trustworthy, impartial witness when signing certain legal and financial documents. Notary’s help deter fraud and other nefarious activity. 

The term “notary public” only pertains to common-law notaries. Civil-law notaries are lawyers who passed the bar exam. Common-law notaries cannot provide any legal advice. 

Common reasons for needing a notary public

There are many reasons you might require the services of a notary public. They can administer oaths and affirmations, take statutory declarations, affidavits, acknowledgments of deeds, and other conveyances. Notaries can also protest notes and bills of exchange and provide notice of foreign drafts. 

Some of the documents that usually require the signature and stamp of a notary public include:

  • Deeds
  • Estate documents
  • Licenses
  • Loan documents
  • Contracts
  • Trusts
  • Affidavits 

Required forms of identification for notary public services

It’s essential to bring the right forms of identification when you require the services of a notary public. Acceptable forms of identification usually include a valid driver’s license, state-issued ID, a US passport, or a US military ID. Some states accept permanent resident cards, or “green cards,” foreign passports, and official driver’s licenses from Canada or Mexico. 

Notary Public Frequently Asked Questions

What forms of identification are acceptable for notary publics?

Most states require a state-issued driver’s license or ID card, passport, or military ID. Some states also allow people to use permanent resident cards, foreign passports, or official driver’s licenses from Mexico and Canada as legal forms of identification. 

The best practice is to bring at least two forms of identification when you see a notary. 

Are there documents a notary can refuse to notarize?

A notary public can only notarize the original document. They cannot notarize photocopies or faxes of a signed document. 

What is a “certified copy”? 

If necessary, you can bring a notary an original document, a photocopy, and a valid ID. Then the notary can certify that the copy is a “true copy” or “certified copy.” 

While a “certified copy” does not verify the authenticity of the original it does verify that the copy is a “true copy” of what held out to be an original document. 

What kinds of documents often need to be notarized?

There are many documents from a variety of sources that require notarization. Lenders, escrow companies, departments of motor vehicles, banks, and other financial institutions, government agencies, law firms, private companies, and other places frequently require notarized paperwork

Many documents are required by law to be notarized. Some of the most common documents people need notarized are:

  • Promissory note agreements
  • Vehicle certification of ownership 
  • Advanced health directives
  • Applications for admission to practice as an attorney
  • Designating beneficiaries 
  • Certificate of identity
  • Certificate of authorship
  • Parental consent for travel
  • Deeds of trust
  • Releases and waivers

Does the notary keep a copy of the document they notarized

Notaries do not keep copies of the documents they execute. Most documents that require notarization are important legal documents, so for security reasons, notaries do not keep copies. Most notary publics keep detailed records about their notarization. Still, those notes are not helpful if you lose your notarized document.