Louisiana is a unique state. It has great cuisine, fabulous music and wonderful people.
It is also the only state that has a legal system based on civil law, derived from the Napoleonic Code. The notaries public in this state have much more authority than notaries of the other 49 states. In fact, in the other states much of the transactional authority of the Louisiana Notary Public would be reserved only for lawyers.
There are two types of notaries in Louisiana — attorney notary and non-attorney notary. Attorney notaries are also lawyers who are able to try cases and offer legal advice. A non-attorney notary is able to perform many administrative duties but cannot offer any advice as to the legality of a claim nor can they represent their clients in court. Notaries must pass a rigorous exam that tests their proficiency in legal matters within the scope of their authority. Once they have passed the test and become commissioned, they are notaries for life.
Notaries must be bonded and should continue their education on legal matters by attending seminars and conferences in order to maintain their level of professional expertise. In many instances in which legal advice is not necessary, a notary may be able to create legal documents and save the client some money.
It is important to make sure the notary being consulted does have the proper credentials, has not been suspended, and has maintained his/her knowledge on legal matters. All acts signed by a notary must contain his/her notarial ID number and printed notary’s name, as required by Senate Bill 143 (Act 62). If a document is to be sent outside of Louisiana, it is a good idea to ask the notary public to include his/her seal in addition to the signature, just as a precaution.
So what exactly can a Louisiana notary public do? Generally, the powers of a notary public extend to preparing and executing affidavits, acknowledgments and authentic acts. They have the authority to:
1. Transfer ownership title
2. Draw up wills and trusts
3. Create matrimonial agreements and pre-nups
4. Make public inventories
5. Conduct real estate transfers
6. Make acts of sale, donation or exchange
7. Make guarantee letters
8. Make partnership agreements
For more information on the authority of a Louisiana Notary Public, you can go to the website of the Louisiana Notary Association, which is the source material for this article, at lna.org.
Mary Fox Luquette, MBA, CLU, ChFC is an instructor in the BI Moody III College of Business at the University of Louisiana. The Daily Advertiser columnist Mary Fox Luquette, Louisiana May 10, 2014