The Montana Code Annotated gives a Montana Notary Public six specific powers:
- To take an acknowledgement
- To witness or attest a signature
- To take a verification upon oath or affirmation
- To take depositions and administer oaths
- To make and give a certified copy of certain documents
- To note a protest of instrument
Requests for Montana Notaries Public to Complete I-9 Forms
It has come to our attention that Montana notaries are being asked to complete Section 2 of the federal I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification forms. This is not an authorized notarial act and must not be completed under the notarial seal. The form does not request, or require, a notarization as such.
These forms are to be completed by the prospective employee (Section 1) and the Employer (Section 2) or the Employer’s Authorized Representative. An “authorized representative” would generally be someone who works for that employer – a recruiter, Human Resources personnel, or an individual with a contractual relationship with the employer authorizing the person to act in the capacity of “Authorized Representative” specifically for the purpose of completing the I-9 form.
A Montana notary public who is asked to complete Section 2 must refuse to do so.
The least exacting process is the taking of an acknowledgment. Although this process requires the signer to appear before the notary, it does not require the notary to witness the act of signing. Often the party has mistakenly signed before realizing it should be done before a notary. In most cases, the requirement will be met if the signer acknowledges before the notary that he/she signed the document, and the notary then merely attests to the fact that the signer personally acknowledged the signature in the presence of the notary and that the notary has determined the identity of the signer as otherwise required. See short form #2 for an example of the correct format for this type of notarial block.
Witnessing or attesting a signature is probably the most common of notarial acts requiring the notary to witness the signature by the signer who appears in person before the notary to do the signing. The notary also must authenticate the identity of the signer by approved methods. See short form #1 for an example of the correct format for this type of notarial block.
The most demanding process is taking a verification upon oath or affirmation. The notary not only witnesses the signature which must be made in his/her presence and must authenticate the identity of the signer, but he/she must also administer an oath and affix a jurat to reflect that the signer swore or affirmed the truth of the document signed. A jurat includes an oath by the signer that the statements made in the document are true. For some legal uses, the document would be inadmissible or useless if the jurat is not properly prepared. Montana motor vehicle titles and contractor license applications are two of the most commonly seen documents requiring jurat notarizations. See short form #6 for an example of the correct format for this type of notarial block.
The statue reserves the taking of depositions to notaries who are specifically knowledgeable in that process. Unless you have training as a court reporter, legal secretary, paralegal or other legal professional, the statute does not bestow this duty to a notary. However, any notary may administer an oath. The two most common occurrences when a notary may be called upon to administer oaths are
1.) When performing a jurat notarization (see above), and
2.) When using a “Credible Witness” to identify a person whose signature is being notarized.
Montana statutes do not specify the wording the notary should use for an oath, but generally the person taking the oath should respond affirmatively to the question, “Do you swear that the information contained in this document is the truth to the best of your knowledge and ability?”
Or, in the case of a Credible Witness, “Do you swear that the person you have identified to me as _______________ is, in fact, that person?”
A Montana Notary Public may certify or attest that a copy of certain types of document or other items is a full, true, and accurate transcription or reproduction of that which was copied, upon making such a determination. See short forms #3 and #4 here for two examples of correct formats for this type of notarial block.
NOTE: A Montana Notary Public may not certify a document issued by a public entity, such as a birth, death, or marriage certificate, unless the notary is employed by the entity issuing or holding the original version of that document.
Protest of instrument
This notarial act is rarely used for legitimate business transactions these days. Unless you are specifically aware of the requirements for a proper use of this act, please contact a lawyer before agreeing to issue a protest of instrument.