What must a document contain to be notarized?
For a document to be notarized, it must contain:
1) text committing the signer in some way,
2) an original signature of the signer, not a photocopy (if a signature is required).
3) a notarial “certificate,” which may appear on the document itself or on an attachment.
Does witnessing/attesting a signature require the document be signed in the presence of the notary?
YES. If the notary certificate states “subscribed and sworn/affirmed to me…,” then it must be signed in the notary’s presence.
What if the document is already signed when brought to me for notarizing?
If the document has already been signed, the notary should ask the person to sign the document again, either above or below the signature.
See the next question for an exception.
Does an acknowledgment require that the document be signed in my presence?
An acknowledgment does not need to be signed in your presence. The person who signed the document must appear before you and acknowledge they are the signer and that they signed it.