Notary Public in Austin Texas- It’s important to note that as far as being a notary, this is a professional who is never considered to be a lawyer. It is actually against the law for notaries who are not attorneys to offer any specific kinds of services and advice, as this is commonly referred to as Unauthorized Practice of Law, which carries severe consequences including loss of commission, fines, and conviction for a criminal offense.
Generally defined, Unauthorized Practice of Law, refers to offering legal services without actually being licensed as an attorney. According to ethics rulings, statutes, and court opinions, legal services are defined in the following manners:
*Providing advice regarding a document concerning the needs of a customer
*Recommending a specific type of notarization that may be required
*Providing opinions regarding the legality or effect of documentation
These types of services may only be performed by attorneys who are licensed by the bar in specific states. Non-attorney notaries are not permitted in any way to perform these services.
In order to avoid Unauthorized Practice of Law, the following list has been provided by The Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibility regarding what notaries are not permitted to provide to customers:
*Notaries are not permitted to choose the specific document that a customer may need for a certain transaction
*Notaries are not permitted to choose the specific type of notarization or certificate wording for a specific document, as something like this can only be decided by the customer themselves
*Notaries are not permitted to prepare documentation, nor are they permitted to provide advice on how to draft, fill out, or complete documentation
*Notaries are not permitted to provide legal advice or answer any questions in regards to a legal matter
There are manners, however, in which notaries may advertise notary services. There are many states that require notaries to post written notices that explain that they are not attorneys who are licensed to practice law, nor are they able to provide any legal advice or accept fees for any type of legal services. For instance, in the state of Texas, notaries who are not attorneys are required by state law to post a disclaimer in their ads that states “I am not an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas and may not give legal advice or accept fees for legal advice.” Furthermore, in states like California and Florida, notaries who advertise in other languages are required to post a disclaimer in English and any other language in which they advertise that states that they are not an attorney and are not able to provide any legal advice. Furthermore, California also prohibits immigration consultants who have also commissioned notaries from being able to advertise notary services in any kind of marketing materials.
The main reason for this stems from individuals posing as “Notarios Publicos,” who are individuals that pretend to be qualified immigration law professionals despite the fact that they aren’t. These individuals do this as a way to scam unsuspecting immigrants into paying large amounts of money for fake services. It’s widely noted that notaries in many countries, including those in Latin American nations, have legal training and credentials that are similar to attorneys in the United States, as they can draft and archive documentation, serve as arbitrators/mediators, etc. This has led to many states prohibiting the use of the “Notarios Publicos” phrase in ads.
Even though notaries should never offer any kind of legal services or advice, there are a few different ways in which they are able to assist signers without actually engaging in Unauthorized Practice of Law. These include the following:
*Explain what all you legally can and cannot do as a notary
*Allow the signer to determine which acts you will perform for them
*Refer all signers to the receiving agency of a specific document or an attorney in the event that they have questions
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