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You may have a unique situation or have specific questions about what is right for you and your family. In these cases, it may be best to talk to an attorney.
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  • …and any other concerns you have!
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Do you have a large estate or an interest in more advanced estate planning tools like trusts?

If your estate equals or exceeds a value of $1 million, or needs special estate planning tools like trusts, it may be best to talk with an attorney.
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Our directory of experienced, local attorneys can help you with circumstances such as:
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  • Establishing and maintaining trusts
  • …and any other concerns you have!
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Are you looking to have your estate planning basics covered?

Our Estate Planning Package includes a Last Will & Testament, Health Care Directive & Living Will, and Financial Power of Attorney to cover all of your basic estate planning needs.
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Do you have minor children?

If you have minor children, you will want to name a guardian for them.
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If you have a pet or pets, you will want to name someone to care for them.
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Do you want to leave gifts to people or a charity?

If you want to give items or money to people or charities, you will want to make what are known as “specific gifts.”
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Do you own a business?

If you own a business or a share of a business, you will want to plan for succession of ownership.
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Do you want to decide how your property is distributed when you pass away?

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Do you want someone to handle your health care decisions if you are unable?

In case you are incapacitated, you will want to list your health care preferences and name someone to handle your health care decisions.
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Do you want someone to handle your health care decisions if you are unable?

In case you are incapacitated, you will want to list your health care preferences and name someone to handle your health care decisions.
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Do you have a spouse with similar needs?

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Do you have a spouse with similar needs?

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Thank you for taking our quiz!
Your answers suggest you might benefit from:

Speaking with
a FindLaw Attorney

Our directory of experienced, local attorneys can help you with circumstances such as:
What’s included:
  • Being part of a blended family
  • Caring for children with special needs
  • Establishing and maintaining trusts
  • …and any other concerns you have!
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Estate Planning Package

For One Person

$135
What’s included:
  • Last will and testament
  • Health care directive & living will
  • Financial power of attorney
  • Free HIPAA release form
  • A comprehensive plan — for less
  • Free changes and revisions for one full year after purchase
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Financial Power of Attorney

For One Person

$39
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your state-specific documents before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create a power of attorney that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase
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All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Health Care Directive & Living Will

For One Person

$39
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your health care directive and living will before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create a document that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free HIPAA release form
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase
Close

All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Last Will and Testament

For One Person

$79
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your documents before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create a last will and testament that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your will for a full year after purchase
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All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Estate Planning Package

For Two People

$255
What’s included:
  • Two wills, health care directives & living wills, and financial powers of attorney
  • Two free HIPAA release forms
  • You and your loved one create your own estate plans tailored to your individual needs
  • Attorney-approved documents customized to your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions for one full year after purchase
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All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Financial Power of Attorney

For Two People

$78
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your state-specific, attorney-approved documents before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create an attorney-approved power of attorney that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase
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All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Health Care Directive & Living Will

For Two People

$78
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your state-specific, attorney-approved documents before you buy.
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create an attorney-approved document that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free HIPAA release form
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase
Close

All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Last Will and Testament

For Two People

$149
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your state-specific, attorney-approved documents before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create two wills customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your wills for a full year after purchase
Close

All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Health Care Directive & Living Will + Financial Power of Attorney

For One Person

$78
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your health care directive and living will before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create a document that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free HIPAA release form
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase
  • Create your state-specific documents before you buy
  • Create a power of attorney that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
Close

All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Last Will and Testament + Financial Power of Attorney

For One Person

$118
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your documents before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create a last will and testament that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your will for a full year after purchase
  • Create your state-specific documents before you buy
  • Create a power of attorney that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase
Close

All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Last Will and Testament + Health Care Directive & Living Will

For One Person

$118
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your documents before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create a last will and testament that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your will for a full year after purchase
  • Create your health care directive and living will before you buy
  • Create a document that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free HIPAA release form
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase
Close

All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Health Care Directive & Living Will + Financial Power of Attorney

For Two People

$156
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your state-specific, attorney-approved documents before you buy.
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create an attorney-approved document that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free HIPAA release form
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase
  • Create your state-specific, attorney-approved documents before you buy
  • Create an attorney-approved power of attorney that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
Close

All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Last Will and Testament + Financial Power of Attorney

For Two People

$227
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your state-specific, attorney-approved documents before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create two wills customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your wills for a full year after purchase
  • Create an attorney-approved power of attorney that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase
Close

All done! Based on your answers, we recommend:

Last Will and Testament + Health Care Directive & Living Will

For Two People

$227
What’s included:
  • Try our easy step-by-step guide
  • Create your state-specific, attorney-approved documents before you buy
  • Only purchase if you are satisfied with your estate planning documents
  • Create two wills customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free changes and revisions to your wills for a full year after purchase
  • Create your state-specific, attorney-approved documents before you buy.
  • Create an attorney-approved document that’s customized to your wishes and your state’s laws
  • Free HIPAA release form
  • Free changes and revisions to your document for a full year after purchase

How To Find a Notary

notary public (a “notary”) is someone who can certify the authenticity of signatures. In other words, they verify that the person signing a document is who they say they are. Depending on the state, a notary public can also administer oaths and perform other official functions.

Table of Contents

When verifying signatures, notaries have several duties. They act as a neutral party to make sure that you sign voluntarily. Further, they must verify your identity and check the authenticity of your document. They then sign and stamp your document. Notaries help prevent fraud, identity theft, and coerced signings by performing these duties.

Finding a Notary

Depending on where you live, it’s usually easy to find a notary public nearby. Many of the establishments in any town or city employ notaries.

Establishments where you might find a notary include:

  • Post offices
  • Libraries
  • Shipping companies
  • Lawyers’ offices
  • Print and copy stores
  • Real estate firms
  • Banks
  • Accountants’ offices
  • Hotel business service centers

Before you visit any of these places in hopes of notarizing a document, you should call them first. The notary may only be available during certain hours. Or they may notarize documents for customers only.

If you still have trouble finding a notary, you should contact your secretary of state. The secretary of state is the government agency that usually handles notary commissions. They often provide a searchable database of registered notaries on their websites. Depending on the state’s website, you can generally search by location, commission number, or name.

Sometimes you may find it challenging to get to a notary during their working hours. If this is the case, you may be able to find a notary who will come to you.

Traveling Notaries

If you find it inconvenient to visit a notary public, you could try to find a traveling notary.

You can look at online advertisements to find a traveling notary or mobile notary. Websites like Craigslist and others can be helpful for this purpose. Even a simple notary search on the internet will probably yield results. Try typing “mobile notary” and your town name into your favorite search engine. You will likely find several results of notaries who will travel to your home or place of business. Most notaries charge a travel fee, but the convenience could make it worthwhile.

Remote Online Notarization

Some states, such as Arizona and Minnesota, have passed laws permitting some form of remote online notarization. But the technological and legal requirements vary by state.

Remote online notarization is possible through technology that connects you with a notary via an audiovisual platform. With remote online notarization, you and your notary do not have to be present in the same location. The remote notary will typically use a special online service that allows you and your notary to interact over a secure video call.

Of course, this is a much newer process than traditional in-person notarization. So, state laws are changing as the technologies evolve. More states will likely begin considering this form of notarization after others have tested it.

Before using remote notarization, you should check your state laws to ensure that it is allowed where you live. You should also consult the requirements of the document you need to sign. Some parties might hesitate to accept notarized documents if you do not meet your notary in person. If you are unsure whether remote online notarization is acceptable in your situation, you should talk to an attorney.

Notary Public FAQs

What do I need to bring to a notary?

When you are preparing to meet with a notary, you must gather all the documents that require notarization. It would help if you waited to sign them until you were in front of the notary. For some documents, you have to acknowledge your signature before a notary. But for others, you will need to sign in the notary’s presence.

Be sure to have a current form of identification (driver’s licensepassport, or identification card) handy when meeting with a notary public. The notary will need this identification to ensure that you are who you say you are. You should contact the notary ahead of time to ask if they need any additional paperwork or identification.

Why would I need a notary?

You might need notary services for a variety of legal documents. In most states, certain sensitive legal documents must be notarized. This ensures that the person signing the document is who they say they are. Some examples of documents that may need notarization include:

This is only a sample of the types of documents that may require notarization. Signing rules will vary by state.

For some documents, notarization is not mandatory but may be a good idea. For example, in some states, a notary can assist you in making your last will and testament “self-proving.” To do this, your witnesses swear to an affidavit before a notary. A court can then automatically accept that your will is valid. This extra step may spare your witnesses from having to testify in court about your will. You should consider making your will self-proving if your state allows it.

Before signing anything, remember to double-check your document’s signing rules and your state’s laws. If you have concerns about the execution requirements of a binding legal document, it may be helpful to speak to an attorney.

What do notaries charge?

A notary’s services are generally not free. But the fees are usually reasonable. The National Notary Association provides a fee table to help you learn how much you will pay in your state. This table shows the state-determined maximums that notaries can charge for their services. They vary between $1 to $15 per document.

What other services can notaries perform?

Notaries can sometimes perform official duties beyond just authorizing documents and taking oaths.

For example, notaries can play an active role in depositions by swearing in the witnesses (the “deponents”).

It might surprise you to learn that notaries can perform marriage ceremonies in a few states. These include Florida and South Carolina.

Notaries may also act as notary signing agents. This is a special type of notary who specializes in handling loan documents. They often must undergo background checks to qualify for this role. If you need a notary signing agent for a loan document, contact your lending institution. They probably have affiliations with notary signing agents who can assist you.

How an Attorney Can Help

Signing essential documents can be stressful and sometimes confusing. If you are planning to sign legal documents related to estate planning, small business formation, or other issues, an experienced business attorney or estate planning attorney can help.

Estate planning solutions to fit your needs.

Written by:

FindLaw Staff

Contributing Author

Kimberly_Lekman_image

Reviewed by:

Kimberly Lekman, Esq.

Contributing Author