Do contracts need to be notarized is a common question among parties wanting to enter into a contract. Generally, contracts don’t need to be notarized, as the signed contract itself is legally binding.

However, if a potential legal dispute arises between the parties, having the contract notarized can be very beneficial. Having a notary will provide proof of the parties entering into the contract. Before entering into a contract, it is important to know the state law in your home state as to whether or not you need a notary.

Notarization

The notary serves an important purpose by verifying the identity of the parties signing the contract, while also identifying that the signature is in fact that person’s signature. Such contracts that might require a notary include the following:

  • Real estate contracts
  • Wills
  • Trusts
  • Medical releases
  • Adoption papers
  • Debt agreement
  • Real estate leases for a period of over one year
  • Real property deed

Another potential contract that might need to be notarized is a family law contract. However, this will depend on the state you are in. For such contracts, i.e. a contract being entered into between a husband and wife during the divorce process, some states require that the contract be notarized or witnessed by a third party.

Most notaries are known as “simple notaries,” meaning that they are only certified and trained to be present when parties are signing a contract, as well as certify that those parties are providing their own signature.

Some notaries are known as specialists, meaning that they are certified in certain fields. For example, a notary might be a specialist in the real estate sector who also knows how to draft the agreement that the parties are signing.

Some types of contracts that generally don’t require a notary include the following:

  • A general contract for the sale of goods
  • Petitions filed with the court
  • Motions filed with the court

How to Protect a Business from a Contract Dispute

Businesses don’t want to constantly worry about potential contractual disputes arising out of a contract.

It can place an undue burden on the business and even cause financial stress on the company if it has to pay significant legal costs, and potential damages after the legal suit is settled.

While there is no way to stop a contractual dispute from occurring, there are some steps that business owners can take to keep their company protected.

One of these steps include having all contracts signed by a notary, as this can protect the business if a legal dispute arises as to the validity of the signatures on the contract. Furthermore, if a contract is notarized, the signature is authenticated in federal courts, along with some state courts. Therefore, there can be no question as to the validity of the signature. This can ultimately save your company both time and money, and can also prevent frivolous lawsuits.

Witnessing a Contract

Similar to the duties of a notary, witnesses are third parties who essentially witness the parties signing the agreement. The difference between the notary and the witness is that the notary has a stamp that is used on the document, formally certifying the signatures. Witnesses, on the other hand, are simply third parties that watch the parties sign the agreement. However, certain states might require a witness to the contract as opposed to a notary. Some states even require two witnesses be present, particularly when a will is being signed.

Some states also require that real estate deals be witnessed. While most real estate deals must be notarized, some states provide that, so long as a witness is present during the signing of the contract, then that is sufficient.

For example, in the state of Florida, deeds must have two witnesses before it can be recorded and legally binding. However, if the parties choose to have the document notarized, then the two witnesses are not required.

If you are unsure whether or not you need a contract to be notarized or witnesses, then you should speak to a licensed attorney.

If you need help drafting a contract, or need assistance understanding if your contract must be notarized or witnessed by a third party, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel’s marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Stripe, and Twilio.