Legal Advice, Legal Opinions from Notary
In Colorado, a notary may not provide legal advice or legal opinions, or choose legal forms or draft legal documents for the customer, unless the notary is also an attorney, licensed to practice law in Colorado.
The notary is required to know and follow Colorado notary laws. An attorney might not know and follow notary laws unless the attorney is also a Colorado notary. Most law schools do not teach any classes in notary law. A document might be prepared by an attorney, but the notary certificate that is attached to the document may be defective or may not comply with Colorado notary law.
Sometimes a notary certificate is written to comply with the notary laws of another state. Notary laws vary from state to state. To notarize a document in Colorado, the notary certificate must comply with Colorado notary law.
The notary may provide information to the customer or document preparer, such as an example of the proper wording for a Colorado notary certificate. The notary may show examples of an acknowledgment certificate (used on unsworn documents) and a jurat certificate (an oath or affirmation, used on a sworn document). Providing information is not the same as providing legal advice.
The customer or document preparer should choose the type of notary certificate to attach to the document. If Colorado law specifies the type of notary certificate to attach to a document, the notary should follow Colorado law.
The notary must be a neutral, impartial witness and should not encourage or discourage a customer from signing a document, except to prevent fraud or an illegal act.
Civil Law Notaries
In Louisiana and Puerto Rico, notaries are civil law notaries and have more powers than notaries in other states. Civil law notaries in foreign countries also have more powers than notaries in Colorado.
In Spanish speaking Latin America, notaries are called notarios and are attorneys. In Colorado, a Spanish speaking notary many not advertise as a notario unless the notary is also a licensed attorney. A notary may have his/her commission revoked for Unauthorized Practice of Law (UPL).
The Colorado Bar Association publishes consumer brochures that are helpful in explaining legal terms, concepts, and documents.
If needed, a customer should seek legal advice or a legal opinion from a licensed attorney. There are also legal plans available to the public for an affordable monthly membership fee, rather than an hourly attorney fee, that provide legal advice, document preparation, and document review.