Illegal Notary Acts
Quite often, clients appear before the notary public wishing for legal advice or assistance. This may because of unfamiliarity with the office of the Notary in general or sometimes is a result of confusing the office of the Notary Public in California with notaries in other countries. For example, in Mexico, and many Latin American countries or even some European countries, notaries are attorneys who specialize in the legal area of Notary work. When the public goes to a notary in any one of these countries, they are expecting that the notary will be able to assist them with specific types of legal questions or problems.
In the United Sates; however, most notaries are not attorneys and the scope of notary duties in the United States and particularly California is very limited. A non-attorney notary in the United States may never represent himself or herself as an attorney nor may they perform any service which would be considered to be the practice law.
In fact, we must be very careful as notaries not to mislead the public regarding this issue either in our advertising or services which we provide.
You already know that you cannot notarize your own document and that while you may notarize documents for a spouse or relatives, you should be very careful that the documents could not have a beneficial or financial interest to you. You also know that it is illegal for a non-attorney notary to give legal advice or provide legal assistance. Let’s look as a few more prohibitions.