It's not a simple concept for the average person to understand what a Notary does.
The Notary's function is to administer oaths and affirmations, take affidavits and statutory declarations, witness and authenticate documents, acknowledge deeds, protest notes and bills of exchange, provide notices, prepare damage protests, provide exemplifications and notarial copies. Any such act is known as notarization.
Now, that's as clear as mud, right? What does that all mean?
The term Notary public describes a public official who is authorized to make oaths legal. They attest & certify certain documents. Basically, they are witnesses to legal agreements which verify the physical presence of the signers of the agreements. They make sure people are really who they say they are. They also verify that the person signing understands what they are putting their signature on, and that the document was signed willingly, without any coercion.
A Notary is expected to know and honor what their state laws allow them to do, and not do. When notarizing an oath, the signer swears the documents are true, and they give a pledge that invokes a supreme being, or else just has to affirm what they present is the complete truth. All documents must be signed in the presence of the Notary.
I hope this helps to clarify the mystery of the Notary.