It is your responsibility to ensure that you understand the document you intend to sign and have notarised.
The Notary will question you as regards your understanding of the nature and purpose of the document and will not notarise it if you cannot give the Notary that assurance.
If the document is highly technical e.g. a Building Agreement or Power of Attorney or is in a language you do not understand, have it explained to you beforehand by someone you trust.
Take whatever legal or other advice you need before going to the Notary. The Notary is normally only concerned with the verification of your identity, your name, your address, your signature, and your ability in a general way to understand the document. The contents of the documents, their meaning and effect, and whether you are wise to sign them, are all your responsibility.
Foreign Language Documents
The Notary does not need to understand the foreign language in which the document is written. The Notary, however, will want to be satisfied that you understand the document. If the Notary is so satisfied he/she will stamp the foreign language document with a statement to the following effect:
‘The notarial act is limited to the verification of the identity, legal capacity, name and signature of the Appearer, unless otherwise expressly stated in the English Language.’
This is to protect you and the Notary in case the language of the document or the practice of the country in which the document is to be used would suggest that the Notary is doing or saying more than either you or the Notary understand to be the case.
The Notary will require you to acknowledge formally in writing in a standard form that you understand the document in (or partly in) a foreign language. Have the document to be notarised translated and/or explained to you by someone you trust before you see the Notary.
Unless you have expressly agreed with the Notary that they are to provide you with legal advice in relation to the document or the implications arising from same in the jurisdiction that it is going to their service will be limited to the terms of the notarial certificate provided by them. The Notary will work in collaboration with your other advisors but it is your responsibility to insure that you have received adequate advice from a suitably competent person in relation to the law and implications of the document in the jurisdiction that you are going to be sending it to.