Legal documents such as contracts and affidavits are always witnessed by a third-party for several different reasons. The primary reason for a legal document witness is to attest to the fact that the signatures on the document are authentic. There are many ways to witness a legal document, but there are two primary methods used to make sure legal documents are acceptable to a court of law.
An objective party is someone who is familiar with the party or parties signing the document but has no personal or financial interest in the document. For example, the beneficiary of a will cannot witness the will in which they are mentioned. However, someone who is not in the will or not related to anyone in the will can sign as a witness.
An objective party must be an adult who is not under the influence of alcohol or drugs when they sign the document. The objective party is being asked to attest that each signature is authentic, and they may be asked to verify the authenticity of the document if it comes under question at any point in time. If an objective party is asked to sign a legal document, then the objective party should keep a copy of the completely signed document for their own records.
The most common way to get a universally accepted witness to a legal document is to use a notary public. A notary public has passed a government test that allows the notary to act as an official government witness for legal documents of any kind. Each notary is given a unique identification number and an official seal that are both placed on the document to show that they witnessed the signature.
You will find notaries in many different walks of life. The two most common places to find free notary services are banks and libraries. While not every bank and library offers free notary services, there are many across the country that do. When a person is sworn in as a judge, they are automatically made a notary. You can also find private practice notaries who will witness your document for a fee.
A notary public will want all parties signing the document to be present and sign the document in front of the notary. This is how the notary can legally witness the signing of a document by people the notary does not know. A notary public seal and signature is accepted as a legal witness to almost any document in the United States.
If you are able to choose between the two methods of witnessing a legal document, it is always best to go with the notary. While it is acceptable for objective parties to witness a document, courts are often more comfortable with the signature of a notary.
Jim Treebold is a North Carolina based writer. He lives by the mantra of “Learn 1 new thing each day”! Jim loves to write, read, pedal around on his electric bike and dream of big things. Drop him a line if you like his writing, he loves hearing from his readers!