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Whether you’re finalizing a property sale, setting up a will, or authenticating a document, a notary public is essential. However, notary fees can add up. Here’s how you can find affordable or even free notary services:
What is a Notary?
A notary public, often simply called a notary, is a certified individual who can witness and authenticate the signing of documents and administer oaths. They act as an impartial third-party witness to ensure that all parties signing a document are doing so willingly and under their own free will.
Why Notarize Something?
Notarizing a document adds a layer of verification and helps prevent fraud. Here are some reasons why documents are notarized:
- Legality: Some documents, by law, require notarization to be considered valid.
- Verification: Notaries confirm the identity of the signers to ensure that they are the individuals they claim to be.
- Willingness: A notary ensures that the signer is not under duress and is signing the document willingly.
- Record Keeping: Notaries often keep a log of all notarizations, providing an additional record of the signing.
Now that we understand the importance of notaries, let’s explore how to find one without emptying your wallet.
Banks and Credit Unions
Many banks, especially those where you hold an account, offer free notary services to their members. It’s a customer perk that many people aren’t aware of.
- Tip: Always call ahead to ensure a notary is available when you plan to visit or make an appointment so you don’t have to wait.
Some local libraries offer notary services for free or at a minimal cost. Check with your local branch for details and availability.
Many courthouses provide notary services. While some might offer them for free, others may charge a nominal fee.
If you’re near a college or university, check their administrative offices. They often provide notary services for students and may extend this service to the public either for free or at a discounted rate.
Online Notary Services
With the rise of digital transactions, online notary services have become more prevalent. They often offer competitive rates, especially for bulk or recurring tasks.
If you’re an AAA member, you might be eligible for free or discounted notary services at your local AAA offices.
Real Estate or Law Offices
While they primarily serve clients, some offices might offer notary services for free or a small fee, especially if you’re doing business with them.
Some community centers or senior centers offer notary services to residents either for free or at a very low cost.
While typically not free, storefront notaries (often found in shopping centers) might offer competitive rates, especially if you’re a repeat customer.
Sometimes, individuals become notaries for work-related reasons and might be willing to notarize documents for friends, family, or neighbors either for free or a small fee.
Finding an affordable notary doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With a bit of research and by leveraging local resources, you can authenticate your documents without breaking the bank. Remember, always ensure the notary is legitimate and certified in your state.