January 27, 2023
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As we start the process of finishing our recent emphasis on vows, commitments, and covenants, I hope you’ll allow me to use my status as a commissioned Texas notary public capacity (even in a faith/religion column like this) as an opportunity to help us truly practice our Christian faith in God in both the sacred and mundane matters of everyday life as well as give a little bit of desperately needed practical education to the general public on the functions of notaries and how they can serve as appropriate legal conduits to keep things flowing trust-wise in a litigious society that finds it a real challenge to know WHO AND WHAT to really trust when the chips are down and something or someone has a need that has to be filled. Let me start with a few frequently asked questions you should possibly have about Texas notaries:

Who is allowed to obtain a Texas notary commission in the first place?

COY’S ANSWER–You’d be absolutely shocked how easy it almost is to become one. (Please, though, if you can–for selfish, competitive purposes….could you PLEASE, I BEG YOU, consider doing SOMETHING ELSE? I DESPERATELY need the money, you know…(LOL) BUT IF YOU MUST…) All you theoretically have to do is meet three basic qualifications–(1.) be at least 18 years old at the time of the original application and show appropriate ID, etc.; (2.) be a Texas resident for a certain amount of specified time as required by the Office of the Secretary of State of Texas; AND (3.) (my absolute favorite of all of this) you should have NEVER, EVER committed ANY crime of “moral turpitude” (In Texas talk, it basically means that you better NOT have any violations any worse than a traffic ticket.)

Then fill out completely the appropriate application form from the Secretary of State’s Office, pay the required fees, wait a little bit–and voila–in not much time at all, you’re a newly-minted state official with a Texas “ministerial commission”. (NO, silly–we’re not talking like an ordained

preacher or anything like that…it’s a GOVERNMENT term! And, no–you don’t have to run for office like a county commissioner or mayor does either to renew your commission every four years.) [I personally recommend going the route of pursuing this through the American Association of Notaries  and/or the National Notary Association. Both places have excellent resources, supplies, newsletters, and can even assist you in getting you what you need to get started as a notary in Texas. You can find AAN at texasnotary.com and/or Google the NNA website for more details. They both even have great training courses available–especially if you go to YouTube and check out the many instructional seminar videos that NNA has available that I’ve recently found very useful.]

What authority is given to one who holds the office of Texas notary?

A Texas notary public has authority to:

Take acknowledgments

Administer oaths and affirmations

Take depositions

Certify copies of documents not recordable in the public records

Protest instruments

(ALSO–) Be present at (believe it or not) inspections of bank safe deposit boxes.

(COY’S SPECIAL NOTE:) It’s definitely NOT like Superman punching boulders out of the way–but at least they don’t have limited state powers like I do.

BUT EVEN I AS A NOTARY DO HAVE MY LIMITS, YOU KNOW! HOW?

Can a Texas notary prepare legal documents?

Absolutely not. A Texas notary commission does not impart any legal authority whatsoever; a Texas notary who is not a lawyer does not have this authority. The only Texas notary who may prepare legal documents or give any legal advice or guidance is a notary who is also an attorney. As a notary your only duty is to perform the notarial act and complete the notarial certificate. (You may, however, show the signer a certificate.)

How soon may I begin to notarize documents?

You may begin performing notarial acts as soon as you:

Receive your official Texas notary public commission

Take the required oath of office

Obtain a valid notary stamp and journal.

Can a Texas notary help in drafting document?

No. A Texas notary may not prepare, draft, select, or give advice concerning legal documents. This is an unlawful practice called the “unlicensed practice of law” and is punishable by law.

How long is the term of a Texas notary commission?

A Texas notary commission term lasts four years. The term begins on the date the Secretary of State issues the commission.

More notary FAQs next week…Until next time (as He allows), see ya at the CROSSroads–

Coy RH

Coy Holley

CoyRH At The Crossroads

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