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 Estate Planning FAQ Book

What is a Notary Public?

If a member of your family has recently died whilst owning assets such as overseas property and they did not make a Will in the country their property is located in.

It is very likely that in order for the appropriate overseas authorities to be able to transact with you. They need to be sure that the documentary evidence you are giving them is genuine.

To prove that your documents are valid and that you have the right to act on the deceased behalf, the particular country’s authorities may require the document to be notarized by a notary public.

Only a notary public has the authority to authorise and certificate a documents legitimacy so that it can be used in another country.

Notaries are mainly concerned with the authentication and certification of signatures and documents for use overseas. some examples of this are:

  • Dealing with purchase or sale of land and property overseas
  • Preparing and witnessing powers of attorney for use overseas
  • Authenticating company and business documents and transactions
  • Providing documents to help administer the estates of people who own property or live abroad
  • Authenticating documents for immigration or emigration purposes, or to apply to marry or to work abroad

Most notaries act in that capacity to provide the sort of services described above. However, they can also provide authentication and a secure record for almost any sort of transaction, document or event.

The fees that Notary public’s charge can vary. You should expect to pay in the region of ten times the amount a solicitor would charge for certifying a document for use in the UK only. This is often in excess of £100 but will depend on the amount of work they do for you.

The circumstances relating to the need to use a notary will vary. The first step would be to contact a notary public in your area as you will need to make an appointment to see them, they are sometimes prepared to travel to you but this is likely to cost you more.

You will need to ensure that you have evidence of your identity. For example, a current valid passport along with proof of address in the form of a council tax or utility bill.

In addition to this, they will want to see any relevant papers or documents that relate to the matter that you are trying to resolve.

In the UK Notaries are regulated by the Master of the Faculties of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Master is responsible for both the qualification and regulation of notaries. Further information on the Master of Faculties can be found at the Faculty Office website

For further information or to find a notary in your area, you can search the Notaries Society website