Model Notary Act
Colorado notaries must follow Colorado notary laws listed in the Colorado Notaries Public Act. Notary laws vary from state to state, but there are fundamentals of notary procedures that remain the same.
If a notary encounters a situation where Colorado law does not prescribe what to do, then the law is silent. In addition to statutes, there may be rules, regulations, state handbooks, training classes, legal opinions or court cases that may apply.
Beyond that, a notary is also required to use prudent and reasonable care, and follow notary best practices. There are several notary organizations that offer educational publications, newsletters, bulletins, forums, tips, webinars, training classes and conferences that can help notaries with continuing education. Most require annual membership dues.
National Notary Association (NNA)
The largest notary organization is the National Notary Association (NNA), based in California, with over 200,000 members. The NNA publishes many educational and reference books for notaries. One valuable reference book is the Model Notary Act of 2010.
Model Notary Act
Portions of the Model Notary Act have been adopted into law in a number of states. It includes model language that may be used by states when they are adding new notary laws, although many states choose to write their own laws, rather than use the model language.
The Colorado Secretary of State (SOS) refers to the Model Notary Act as a guide for situations when Colorado notary law is silent. The Model Notary Act was also used as a guidebook for notary best practices in the landmark Vancura case in Illinois, where a notary was found liable for negligence by failing to use reasonable care.
Notaries are ministerial officers that follow rules and industry best practices. Notaries do not have discretion to invent new procedures that may conflict with established law and best practices. If a situation arises where the notary law and best practices are silent, the notary should seek guidance from the SOS or legal advice.
Model Notary Act Examples
Here are a few examples of topics where Colorado notary law is silent, but a model law or commentary is included in the Model Notary Act:
- Correcting errors or omissions made by the notary
- Charging fees for non-notarial services such as travel, courier, signing agent
- Discrimination based on race, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, disability or status as a client or customer
- Waiving fees or reducing fees for humanitarian or charitable reasons
- Endorsements by notaries for a product, service, contest, candidate or other offering
- Suggesting specific pre-printed legal forms
- Posting a fee schedule, agreeing to fees in advance
- Notary attempting to influence a person to sign, or not sign, a document, unless it is an unlawful transaction
- Performing notarial acts outside of the notary’s regular workplace or business hours
The Model Notary Act helps to promote, serve and protect the public interest, to clarify notary law, to foster ethical conduct among notaries, and serves as a reference guide for notary best practices.