Does the Notary Have to Watch Me Sign? And Other Jurisdictional Issues

In most jurisdictions, including Ontario, the law requires a notary public to witness the signing of a document in person before he or she can notarize the document. Usually, this is pretty easy. 

But what if you are outside your home town, province or country and you need to get a document notarized for use back home? For example, you’re visiting Vancouver but need to sign closing papers for a house you bought back home in Toronto. 

Or what if you need something notarized for use in another town, province or country? For example, you are selling property you own in Florida but you live and work in Toronto and can’t get down to Florida in time to sign the selling documents. 

Luckily, the solution is still pretty easy: simply visit a notary wherever you are and have them notarize the documents for you and send the documents to where they need to go.  This is also known as “notarizing a document for use in another jurisdiction.” If you are in another country, you may need to have the notary’s signature authenticated for use outside of that country - check with the notary and your lawyer (if applicable) to see if this is required and what the process is.

Downtown Notary has helped many clients with signing documents for use in many other jurisdictions, including mortgage documents, powers of attorney, affidavits, etc. We can liaise with your lawyer, mortgage broker or other professional to help you quickly and easily complete your documents. Contact us today to learn how we can assist you.

Notary Public vs. Lawyer: What's the Difference?

In addition to being asked whether we are lawyers, we here at Downtown Notary are often asked, what is the difference between a notary public and a lawyer?  It's a question that reminds me of grade five math, when I was faced with questions like "If all wobbles are wibbles, and some wibbles are waddles, then some waddles are what?"

Most notaries public in Ontario are lawyers who are members of the Law Society of Upper Canada.  But, not all lawyers are notaries.  As we discussed in an earlier post, to be a notary public in Ontario, a lawyer has to apply for a notary public appointment. 

While notaries and lawyers provide legal services, there's some very important distinctions between what a notary public may do versus what a lawyer may do.  Notaries are able to verify that signatures, marks and copies of documents are true or genuine. Notaries who are not also practicing lawyers are limited to non-contentious issues and may not provide any legal advice or representation.  In Ontario, lawyers are required to carry professional liability insurance to ensure that their clients are protected in the instance of malpractice. If you are seeking legal advice, it's important that you seek out a lawyer who is licensed to practice in your jurisdiction and has the right kind of insurance.  If you are seeking to have a document or signature authenticated, it's important that you seek out a notary public who has been appointed to provide such services.

 Downtown Notary Toronto does not provide any legal advice.  We do, however, provide a full range of notary public services

In short: Need someone to witness a signature, certify a document or administer an oath? Find a notary public.  Need legal advice or representation? Find a properly licensed lawyer. Need some comic relief? Check out this picture:


Are You a Lawyer? And Why Don't You Have an Office?

Clients often ask me if I'm a lawyer. I assume that I'm asked this because many people aren't exactly sure what a notary is. To be fair, notaries don't get a lot of publicity (unfortunately none of the Kardashians are notaries).  We are also somewhat difficult to categorize: We provide legal-type services, but don't provide legal advice or legal representation.

To answer the question: Yes, I am a lawyer and a member in good standing of the Law Society of Upper Canada. Pursuant to the Notaries Act, all notaries in Ontario must be lawyers. However, I currently do not practice law and therefore limit my legal services to notarization and commissioning of oaths. But like all other lawyers, I slogged through three years of law school, 20 or so hours of bar exams and 10 months of articling.

Another question I'm often asked is where my office is located.  And when I explain that, as a mobile notary I don't have an office and meet clients in Starbucks, people will sometimes ask if that's "normal" or comment that it seems a bit strange.

There's a few reasons why I do not have an office.  Firstly, offices are very expensive. One of the reasons legal services are so expensive is to pay for those expensive offices. Without an office, I'm able to pass on the savings to my clients and provide notary public and commissioner for taking oaths services at affordable and accessible rates.  Secondly, not having an office allows me to be flexible: I'm able to meet clients at times that fit their schedule, or provide them with house calls across downtown Toronto. Non-traditional legal practices in which lawyers or notaries work from their homes, shared offices or alternative offices, such as coworking spaces, are becoming increasingly common as we strive to provide high quality services to our clients at affordable prices. Thirdly, Starbucks makes much better coffee than I do.