Do you have a deed, a will or another important document to sign? Your notary search in Pennsylvania is over. Get your documents notarized at AAA.
Notary services are just one of the many fantastic benefits you get from joining your local AAA club. Whether another party requires you to notarize something or you want some additional legal security, notarizing a document is a quick and easy process. Besides notarizing your signature on important personal documents, we can also create certified copies* of one-of-a-kind documents such as diplomas so you can submit them for official purposes without losing your original copy.
When you need to notarize a document, you may have a few questions about the process. For example, many people in central Pennsylvania looking for a public notary nearby are surprised to hear it called "notary public." While the second term can sound a little strange to our American ears, both terms refer to the same public official. Rest assured, you can notarize your documents legally with a AAA notary public.
Learn all about AAA's notary services in Pennsylvania and answer all your questions about the process.
When Do You Need to Notarize Personal Documents?
Important documents are notarized to prevent fraud. The notary public ensures the signer and witness, if required, are who they say they are. They usually do this by checking their driver's licenses or identification cards. The notary will also ensure the signer agrees to the terms knowingly and willingly and see that documents are signed correctly.
Notarizing a document ensures:
- The signatures contained belong to the stated individuals and are not forged.
- The document isn't being signed under duress.
A notary verifies each signer's identity and looks for signals that a signer is intoxicated or being coerced. If the document contains an oath, the notary will administer it.
In the past, most contracts needed a notary stamp. Today, many documents, including signed legal agreements, do not need to be notarized. However, certain documents require notarization by federal or state law. Even when not legally required to, a party may request notarization as an extra measure to prevent fraud and identity theft. It ensures that courts can independently verify the transaction after signing. Notaries keep a record of all transactions, providing proof that a document was notarized after the fact.
You may need to notarize personal documents such as:
Real Estate Deeds
Property deeds are one of the few documents that must always be notarized. When buying or selling your house or another piece of property, you'll likely need to visit a notary. Deeds must have notarized signatures to ensure a comprehensive record of ownership. Without notarization, others could claim ownership of your house.
Power of Attorney
Some states require power of attorney documents to be notarized. This is a crucial measure against fraud since a power of attorney allows a person to make decisions on another's behalf. You do not want someone to forge your signature on a power of attorney document. In 2014, Pennsylvania passed 2014 Act 95, which added the requirement for any power of attorney documents to be acknowledged before a notary public. They also require two witnesses besides the signatory and the notary.
Typically, a last will and testament doesn't require notarization. Instead, after writing your will, you may need other individuals to witness and sign the document. The advantage of having a notary present is that it acts as an official verification of the signature. When the will's creator dies, the papers may need to be verified in court. The judge will ask the witnesses to verify their signatures. If the witnesses have also died or aren't close by, it could delay executing the will. Notarization also makes it more challenging for someone to contest the will.
An affidavit is any written statement made under oath or affirmation. It's often used in court cases. The notary has the power to administer these oaths. Notaries often call these types of documents jurats. When notarizing with a jurat, you must appear before the notary and sign the form in their presence. The notary administers the oath or affirmation out loud, and you must verbally confirm that the statements are factual. If the contents are not accurate, you may face prosecution for perjury.
Copies of Official Documents
Sometimes, you may need a copy of an original document for legal purposes. A notary can verify that the duplicate is a complete and accurate reproduction or transcription of the original.
Copy certification may be necessary for documents such as:
- Driver's licenses
- Vehicle titles
- Medical records
- Bills of sale
- Social Security cards
When obtaining a copy certification, you'll bring your original document to the notary, who will create and certify a photocopy for you. Not every state allows notaries to create copy certifications. Since Pennsylvania revised its rules on the powers of a notary public, effective October 26, 2017, notaries may legally certify or attest a copy.
What Can AAA Central Penn Notarize?
AAA Central Penn staffs all our offices with certified notary publics, here to notarize most of your personal documents. The items and documents AAA notary services in Pennsylvania may notarize depend on state laws on a notary's powers.
At AAA Central Penn, we can notarize:
- Affidavits: When you sign an affidavit, you're swearing that the information contained is factual. You must swear to an officer authorized by Pennsylvania law to administer oaths. Our Pennsylvania notary publics are authorized to notarize your affidavit.
- Powers of attorney: Under Pennsylvania law, the principal and two witnesses other than the notary must sign a power of attorney document. While AAA cannot provide witnesses for you, we're happy to act as the notary for you and your chosen witnesses.
- Contracts and financial agreements: While Pennsylvania does not require most contracts to be notarized, it is perfectly legal and beneficial to do so. If one party wishes to take the other to court, a notarized agreement can speed up the process. The court system does not need to determine whether a signature was forged or made under duress or coercion. Instead, the court can assume all parties understood the contract and agreed to it of sound mind. Also, parties cannot destroy the paperwork and claim they never signed it since we, as the notary, will keep a record of the transaction.
- Wills: As with contracts, wills do not need notarization to be valid and legally binding in Pennsylvania. Unlike in most states, Pennsylvania doesn't require two witnesses, except if the creator cannot sign their name. While they don't have to be present at the signing, probate courts will call witnesses to prove your will's validity after death. You can avoid this by signing your will with two witnesses. Then, have a notary administer affidavits to the three of you, providing legal proof that you were the one who signed the will. AAA Central Penn may notarize such affidavits, unless the will ask for notarized creator and witness signatures.
- Deeds: Like all states, Pennsylvania requires property titles to include a notary's acknowledgment of all signatures. Usually, the person transferring the property must bring the deed to one of our branches and sign the document before a notary.
- Trusts: Similar to a will, you must sign a trust for it to be valid. Signing the document in front of a notary protects you from having the authenticity of your signature challenged.
- Certified copies: In the state of Pennsylvania, notary publics, like those at AAA Central Penn, are authorized to certify copies of official documents.
We can't notarize:
- Photographs, mortgages or I-9 forms: While we often use phrases like "notarized documents," technically, a notary only notarizes a signature. That means we can't notarize photographs. Pennsylvania also does not authorize notaries to stamp or emboss your I-9 forms.
- Incomplete documents: To prevent fraud, notaries may only acknowledge signatures on forms that have been completely filled out. While it's legal to attest that the signature is yours in front of a notary, most people sign them in our notary's presence.
- Documents without the required witnesses present: AAA Central Penn cannot provide any witnesses for documents that need witness signatures. Please remember to bring all the required witnesses when you visit one of our locations.
- Birth, marriage and death certificates: Notaries aren't authorized to notarize or create certified copies of birth, marriage or death certificates. To obtain new copies of these items, you must go through the government agency that issued them.
- Business documents: At AAA, we're only able to notarize personal documents. (We cannot acknowledge signatures on most business-related documents.)delete Any gold medallion signatures must be notarized at a financial institution.
Who Is Eligible to Notarize Documents With AAA Central Penn?
At AAA, notarizing documents is one of the many unexpected services we offer all AAA members. If you're a Classic member, you can have your documents notarized through us for a nominal fee. AAA notary services cost even less for a AAA Plus or AAA Premier member since most notary fees are waived entirely.
If you're not already a AAA member, now is the perfect time to join. Notarizing a document often comes along with a major life milestone. Whether you're moving to a new home, getting married, buying a new car or taking another big step, AAA provides a whole host of benefits that can give you some extra security. Make your life a little easier as you make your next big leap forward, and do more to protect yourself and your loved ones with AAA. See all the benefits a AAA membership has to offer:
- Automotive services: We're known for our world-class roadside services. You'll never get stranded with a dead battery, flat tire or other car troubles. We handle everything from towing services to emergency gasoline delivery, and our coverage also includes bicycles and accident protection.
- Drivers' education: We also help prepare you for anything the open road throws your way. Our courses include new driver preparedness, behind-the-wheel training, defensive driving and mature operator classes.
- Travel assistance: Whether you see the world by plane, train or automobile, we'll be your travel agent. We'll handle your reservations and help you find travel rewards and discounts along the way. You can even qualify for unique experiences, cruise packages and priority check-ins. We'll navigate car rentals and book tickets to events. For our international travelers, we offer a range of foreign currency services. Have any questions about obtaining passports or travel insurance? Our AAA travel agents and services are just a call away!
- Financial services: If you need to notarize any financial documents, you'll be pleased to learn about all the financial services AAA offers our members. Our exclusive AAA Member Rewards Visa Signature® card lets you earn unlimited rewards and access AAA member discounts and coupons. We also help you invest your money responsibly with AAA-member-only rates for savings accounts, money market funds and individual retirement accounts.
- Insurance: You probably already know AAA offers top-quality auto insurance. We also have you covered with home, condo and renters insurance, life insurance, Medicare coverage, travel accident insurance and even pet insurance.
- Perks and discounts: With all the exclusive perks and discounts you'll receive by showing your AAA card, your membership could soon pay for itself. Our AAA discount program partners with thousands of companies worldwide and over 30,000 online retailers to give you fantastic deals. Find discounts on theme park tickets, local Central Penn businesses and products and services across many categories.
One of the most immediate benefits you'll have at your disposal is a convenient, affordable location to have your documents notarized. Since we have notaries staffed at every branch, you can find notary services near Carlisle, Lancaster and Hershey, Pennsylvania, and any of our Central Penn AAA clubs. It's one of those lesser-known benefits you receive as an AAA club member.
Tips for Notarizing Documents
Ready to have your documents notarized at your local AAA branch? Here are a few tips to make sure your visit goes smoothly:
Have All Parties Present
Notaries cannot notarize the signature of someone who isn't present, even over the phone. Each signer must be face-to-face with the notary and declare their signature is genuine. Do not sign documents in advance. If your document requires witness signatures, make sure you understand whether the notary can count as a witness. The rules can vary from document to document. If you need any witnesses other than the notary, make sure they're there, too. AAA Central Penn cannot provide a witness for you at our offices.
Bring Your ID
One of a notary's central responsibilities is verifying your identity. Even if the notary knows you by name, they need to check some form of unexpired legal identification.
Valid identification forms vary by state. Pennsylvania authorizes notaries to accept four forms of identification:
- A current driver's license or ID card issued by any U.S. state.
- A U.S. passport.
- A foreign passport stamped by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
- A government-issued ID document from Canada or Mexico.
- Be Ready and Willing to Sign
- By Pennsylvania law, a notary may refuse to notarize a document if they are not satisfied the signer is competent and aware enough to understand what they're signing. They can also deny a request if they don't believe the signer is signing voluntarily, without coercion or duress.
It's smart to read your agreement thoroughly and be ready to accept the terms before you bring it to our office.
Understand Your Document
You also need to know what type of notarization you need. Notaries aren't licensed attorneys, meaning they cannot legally advise you on what type of notarization you need. Many documents include a notarial statement describing the type of notarization required. If yours doesn't have one, talk to the party requiring your notarized signature to determine what type of notarization they need.
The types of notarial acts include:
- Acknowledgment: An acknowledgment is usually used for property deeds, powers of attorney, trusts and other documents that transfer ownership. The signer must prove their identity and sign the form willingly. They must also agree that the arrangements included in the document are factual and will take effect as written.
- Jurat: Affidavits, depositions and interrogatories often require notarial jurats. When requesting a jurat, the signer must appear and sign the document in person. They must then speak aloud an oath or affirmation. After signing a document bound by a jurat, the signer can be prosecuted for perjury if the record is not factual.
- Certified copy: While not every state recognizes certified copies, Pennsylvania does. We can notarize copies of college degrees, passports and other one-of-a-kind personal documents.
- Signature witnessing: In 2017, Pennsylvania legalized a new notarial act called "signature witnessing." The notary, rather than another party, acts as the signature witness and physically watches the signee sign the document. As with other forms of notarization, the signer must have their identity confirmed.
Mark Pages to Notarize
When signing a large document, you may need several pages to bear your notarized signature. Know all the places you need to sign and mark them, so you don't forget any. If your document has any blank spaces, strike a line through or write "N/A." Make sure your forms contain no misspellings and have been completely and correctly filled out. When you arrive at our office, all you'll have to do is sign.
Find Your Local AAA Notary
At AAA, we're always finding ways to give you more value for your membership with services like notarizing documents. With a notary public staffed at every AAA Central Penn branch, we make it easy to find a notary in your area. Simply locate your nearest AAA branch and bring us your documents at a convenient time. Feel free to call ahead with any questions about our notary services. We're always happy to help!