Notarial services

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Have you ever needed to get something notarized or get a certified copy of a document? Some may be unsure about the notarial services offered by their local Legal Assistance Office.

This article is intended to clear up any misconceptions about what can be notarized or certified at the Fort Irwin, Legal Assistance Office.

It is important to understand that there are two types of notaries in the Legal Assistance Office: military and civilian. While both are able to notarize most documents, each is limited in some way. This can cause some confusion.  For example, real estate documents should generally be notarized by a civilian, but certified copies of military records can only be done by a military notary.  Notaries cannot provide legal advice or interpretation of a document unless the notary is also an attorney.

Military notaries are Paralegal Specialists, Paralegal NCO’s, Judge Advocates and Civilian Attorneys who have notarial authority under Title 10 USC 1044a. California notaries are the civilian employees in the Legal Assistance Office who have been appointed and commissioned by the State of California, Secretary of State.  Army Regulation (AR) 27-55 explains the documents that Military and Civilian notaries are able to notarize and certify.  The Secretary of State Notary Public Handbook further explains what civilian notaries are authorized to do.

According to AR 27-55, there are types of documents that a notary cannot notarize, such as: unsigned documents; documents not signed in the presence of the notary; false statements; pre or post-dated documents; or perform notarial services for a transaction known or suspected to be illegal, false or deceptive, or for someone who is being coerced.  Further, a notary cannot notarize a general power of attorney before determining that the client has received advice from an attorney on the nature and effect of a general power of attorney.

Civilian notaries commissioned by the State of California Secretary of State, may only certify copies of powers of attorney and journal entries.  Military notaries may make certified copies of some original documents provided that the notary determines the copy to be certified is a full, true, and accurate transcription or reproduction of the original, usually by observing the copying process. Military notaries will not make certified copies of public records or of publicly recorded documents, when a certified copy of the record is available from an official source other than a notary (such as court records, birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates, car titles, tax returns, etc.).  There is a limited exception under the regulation that allows military notaries to certify a copy of a public record from an official source when it will be used for military administrative purposes, to include finance and personnel administration.

Notarial services are provided on a walk-in basis to those eligible for legal assistance at the Legal Assistance Office, which is located in Bldg. 230 on C Avenue across from the Garrison Headquarters building.  The LAO can be reached at 760-380-5321.  Please take advantage of this free service.