Knowing, for sure, what the powers of a notary public in the United States are is a great advantage to consider in advising on any procedure to be carried out.
According to María Rodríguez, BA, Political Science of the University of New York, the most frequent tasks of public notaries are somewhat limited to those that can be carried out by specialized lawyers in some areas.
They could be in three categories, including:
Recognition or acknowledgment. In this case, a person appears and identifies himself before a notary, and verbally declares that he signs or has signed a document freely and without pressure. Next, the notary raises the Recognition Certificate, whose main function is to attest to the veracity of the signature, and that it has been given with free consent.
Give faith. It is when a notary can attest that a document is a copy of its original.
Finally, notarial certification, also known as jurat, oath, or affirmation, depends on the state. In this certification, a person appears before the notary and signs a document in her presence. Next, the notary asks the signer if the content of what is signed is true. The signatory must respond verbally in the affirmative. If he lies, he would be committing perjury. Finally, the notary approves the notarial certificate, but doesn’t read the document. In other words, he attests to the signer’s reply, not to the content of the document.
Additionally, in three states—South Carolina, Florida, and Maine—notaries can perform civil marriages.
What María Rodríguez emphasizes in a significant way is that US notaries cannot provide legal advice, including immigration cases; nor are they authorized to prepare and draft legal documents. The only exceptions are Louisiana and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, where they can do so.
These annotations contribute to a better and greater understanding of what a notary can or cannot do, unlike the diversity of functions that a law firm with diverse specializations can perform.