All notaries will find themselves often administering Oaths and Affirmations. Do you ever wonder what the differences are? It is essential for notary publics to know and understand the importance, the difference, and how to administer the oath and affirmation.
Notary2Pro faculty member Stephanie Rowland says “I enjoy giving the oath as it gives a ceremonial reverence as to the seriousness of the act. I can almost guarantee that each signing I conduct, I am told ‘Oh, this is new,’ or ‘I’ve never had a notary put me under oath before, and I’ve refinanced several times,’ or ‘When did they start doing this oath thing?”
As a notary, administering oaths and affirmations assumes a unique significance. Notary Publics are public officers appointed by the government to verify and certify legal documents. Their role in administering oaths or affirmations is crucial in ensuring the authenticity and integrity of the process. Notaries are generally authorized to administer both oaths and affirmations, allowing individuals to choose the option that aligns with their beliefs or preferences.
The following aims to provide a clear understanding of the differences between oaths and affirmations in legal and notarial contexts. It explores the significance, purposes, and implications of these solemn declarations We look at both the religious and non-religious aspects, as well as the legal framework surrounding oaths and affirmations, hopefully to help notaries better understand this sometimes confusing topic.
Oaths and affirmations serve as solemn commitments or declarations made by individuals in legal and formal settings. While there is a difference between an oath and an affirmation, both are legally equivalent and hold up in a court of law. This paper will elucidate the contrasting features of oaths and affirmations, particularly within the context of being a Notary Public, whose role, when dealing with legal documents, involves verifying and certifying who the signer is, that it is their legal signature and that they did sign the document and swore. Providing a false oath or affirmation is an example of perjury, a felony crime punishable by law with a prison sentence and possibly a fine.
Oaths are formal declarations or promises typically made in a religious or sacred context. They involve invoking a higher power or swearing by something of personal importance. Oaths carry legal implications and are commonly employed in legal proceedings, such as courtrooms or the assumption of public office. Violation of an oath may result in legal penalties and damage to one’s credibility.
Affirmations are solemn declarations affirming the truthfulness or sincerity of statements or commitments, without any religious or sacred references. They do not involve invoking a higher power and are secular in nature. Affirmations are often used as alternatives to oaths, accommodating individuals with religious or personal beliefs that prevent them from taking oaths. Affirmations create legally binding commitments based on personal integrity.
Always consider the legal ramifications of the oath and affirmation. A notary or loan signing agent should always stress the importance, seriousness, value, and significance of the signer or signers’ actions in the process. They must provide a loud and clear verbal “Yes” or “I do” to the oath or affirmation.
How do you administer the oath or affirmation?
- The person or persons taking the oath or affirmation must appear or are required to appear physically before you. The notary public or loan signing agent may not administer oaths or affirmations remotely unless expressly authorized by law. Check your state’s rules and regulations for specifics on electronic communication requirements.
- It is required to ask the signer or signers for acceptable proof of identification to verify who they are as prescribed by your state’s law.
- Explain to the signer or signers that you will need them to respond at the end of the oath or affirmation with a clear and loud “Yes” or “I do”.
- It is recommended that you have the signer raise their right hand or another ceremonial gesture and to hold their position during the oath or affirmation until they say “Yes” or “I do”. Although not every state requires the raising of the right hand, it is best practice. Once again, check your state’s rules and regulations on the oath or affirmation requirements.
- Administer the oath or affirmation by asking if the signer swears or affirms the truthfulness of their statement. Depending on your state, the wording may appear as a question or a statement.
Here are some examples of what wording to use when administering oaths and affirmations:
A typical oath that you may encounter will read:
“Do you solemnly swear that any statements made when signing this document are true to the best of your knowledge and belief, so help you God?”
A typical affirmation that you may encounter could be:
“Do you solemnly, sincerely, and truly declare and affirm that the statements in this document are true and accurate to the best of your knowledge and belief—this you do under penalty of perjury.”
If you find that your state does not have specific requirements on oath or affirmation wording, Notary2Pro recommends:
DO YOU SOLOMNLY SWEAR OR AFFIRM, UPON PAIN OF PERJURY, THAT YOU ARE:
THAT THE SIGNATURE YOU WILL PLACE ON THESEDOCUMENTS IS YOUR CUSTOMARY AND USUAL SIGNATURE.
THAT YOU ARE EXECUTING THESE DOCUMENTSVOLUNTARILY FOR THE PURPOSES AND THE CONSIDERATION STATED THEREIN;
AND THAT WITH RESPECT TO ANY AFFIDAVITS, THE ALLEGATIONS THEREIN ARE TRUE AND CORRECT TO THE BEST OF YOUR KNOWLEDGE AND BELIEF.
Notary2Pro recommends that notary publics and loan signing agents print out, cut, and laminate the statement above. Place it in your notary journal so you will not forget the wording to administer if you come across a jurat.
Notary Publics play an impartial and authoritative role when administering oaths or affirmations. Your objective is to ensure to prevent fraud and forgery by requiring the personal presence of the signer and satisfactorily identifying the signer, regardless of the choice between an oath or affirmation. Some notary publics, loan signing agents, and signers take the situation lightly, but it’s not the time to make or crack jokes. It is crucial to be a role model in this process and show professionalism when administering oaths and affirmations. Your customer will respond in kind. Notaries adhere to specific guidelines and regulations set forth by their jurisdictions to maintain consistency and professionalism in the notarization process.
In conclusion, understanding the differences between oaths and affirmations in legal and notarial contexts is vital. While oaths carry religious undertones and affirmations are secular in nature, both serve the purpose of solemnly affirming the truthfulness and sincerity of statements or commitments. Notary Publics play a critical role in ensuring the integrity and authenticity of the notarization process, administering oaths or affirmations in accordance with legal requirements and individual preferences. By acknowledging these distinctions, the legal community can promote inclusivity and uphold the principles of justice and accountability.
In Notary2Pro’s Elite course we explore how to administer these in great detail. Oaths and affirmations are conducted each time a jurat is executed so expect to seem them frequently. It is part of how to conduct loan signings as there are typically a few jurats that need to be executed in the loan packet. The purpose of a jurat is for an affiant to swear to or affirm the truthfulness of the contents of an affidavit. A notary public administers an oath or affirmation to the affiant, who verifies the truths listed in the affidavit under penalty of perjury. Check out this article and more great resources for professional loan signing agent on the Notary2Pro.com website!