Powers & Duties
Montana law gives notaries the following seven POWERS:
1. Taking Acknowledgements – an acknowledgement is “a declaration by a person that the person has executed an instrument for the purposes stated in the instrument and, if the instrument is executed in a representative capacity, that the person signed the instrument with proper authority and executed it as the act of the person or entity represented and identified in the instrument.” [1-5-603(1), MCA]
This means that you don’t necessarily have to see the person make the signature on the paper, but you do have to have the person in your presence to verify his or her identity, signature, and that he knowingly and willingly signed the document. The notarial block will use the verb “acknowledged”. If the document you are asked to notarize does not have a preprinted notarial block, you may print, type, or handwrite the notarial block below the signature or you may use the downloadable form here and affix it to the document.
2. Taking a Verification upon Oath or Affirmation (JURAT) – “the notarial officer shall determine either from personal knowledge or satisfactory evidence, that the person appearing before the officer and making the verification is the person whose true signature is on the statement verified.” [1-5-603(2), MCA]
This means that the person actually signs the document in your presence and that you administer an oath whereby the person swears or affirms, under penalty of perjury, that the statements made in the document are true and correct to the best of his/her knowledge and he/she has signed the document knowingly and willingly. The notarial block will contain a compound verb“signed and sworn”, “subscribed and affirmed”, or “executed and attested” or a different combination of those six verbs. If the document you are asked to notarize does not have a preprinted notarial block, you may print, type, or handwrite the notarial block below the signature or you may use the downloadable form here and affix it to the document.
3. Witnessing or Attesting a Signature – “the notarial officer shall determine, either from personal knowledge or satisfactory evidence, that the signature is that of the person appearing before the officer and named in the instrument.” [1-5-603(3), MCA]
This is one of the most frequently performed notarizations. You simply witness the person in your presence sign the document and verify his identity and that he knowingly and willingly signed it. The notarial block will use the verb “signed”, “subscribed”, or “executed”. If the document you are asked to notarize does not have a preprinted notarial block, you may print, type, or handwrite the notarial block below the signature or you may use the downloadable formhere and affix it to the document.
4. Certifying or Attesting a Copy of a Document – “The notarial officer shall determine that the proffered copy is a full, true, and accurate transcription or reproduction of that which was copied.” [1-5-603(4), MCA]
When asked to certify a copy of a document the notary must make the copy from the original and then complete the full and proper notarial block on the copy. You may print, type, or handwrite the notarial block either below the image of the document or on the back of the copy. You may use the downloadable form here and affix it to the document.
5. Making or Noting a Protest of a Negotiable Instrument – [Actual text can be found at 1-5-603(5), MCA]
This is a notarial act that is rarely used in legitimate transactions and requires additional training in financial practices. Most Montana notaries should not agree to a request for this act. Please call the Certifications and Notary Section of the Secretary of State’s Office for more information.
6. Take Depositions and Affidavits – “if the notary is knowledgeable of the applicable legal requirements,” [1-5-416(1)(b), MCA]
This authorizes notaries who have specific training, such as court reporters, to transcribe the official testimony of an individual. Any notary can notarize the signature and oath (JURAT) of a person signing a deposition or affidavit.
7. Administer oaths and Affirmations – “in all matters incident to the duties of the notary public’s office or to be used before any court, judge, officer, or board in this state;” [1-5-416(1)(b), MCA]
A notary may administer an official oath, either as part of a written statement (JURAT), or as a separate act. There is no statutorily mandated language for such oaths, but a generally accepted statement would be:
“Do you swear or affirm that the statement you have made (or contained in this document) is true and correct to the best of your knowledge and ability?”
A Montana notary may not:
- Notarize the notary's own signature;
- Notarize a document in which the notary is individually named or has an interest from which the notary will directly benefit by a transaction involving the document; or
- 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. [1-5-416(2), MCA]
- “A notary public who is a stockholder, director, officer, or employee of a bank or other corporation and is individually named in an instrument or signs an instrument as a representative of the bank or other corporation may not:
(a) take the acknowledgment of that instrument by or to that bank or other corporation;” [1-5-417(2)(a), MCA] (This means that a notary who signs a document on behalf of the company he or she works for, or who is named in that document for any reason, cannot then notarize the client’s signature on that same document.)
In addition to the powers conveyed to Montana notaries there are certain DUTIES given to Montana notaries by law [1-5-416(1)(b-g), MCA]:
- Provide and keep an official ink stamp and seal prescribed by the secretary of state;
- Authenticate with the notary public's official seal and the notary's original signature, which must be in blue or black ink, as it appears on the notary's certificate of commission,all official acts. Whenever the notary public signs officially as a notary public, the notary public shall add to the signature the words "Notary Public for the State of Montana, residing at.... (stating the name of the town or city of the notary public's post office)" and shall endorse upon the instrument the date, showing the month, day, and four-digit year, of the expiration of the notary public's commission.
- On every document on which the notary's seal of office is used, type, stamp, or legiblyprint the notary's name, as shown on the notary's certificate of commission, after or below the original signature of the notary;
(Items 2 and 3 refer to the information that is required to be entered on every notarial block. The new seal/stamp contains everything but the notary’s signature, so it is not necessary to enter that information again.)
- Keep and maintain an official notary journal recording the details of each notarial act performed, including the date, the type of notarial act, the type of document, the date of the document, the name, address, and signature of the individual for whom the notarization was performed, the type of identification used, and any other information prescribed by the secretary of state.