The Georgia Supreme Court has stated that it is unethical for non-lawyers to handle a real estate closing. Of course, the Georgia State Bar only has power over lawyers, so a non-lawyer like a notary public can’t be prevented from closing loans. However, there are important reasons why a notary doesn’t provide enough protection as a qualified Georgia real estate lawyer.
A Notary Has Less Education
Many lenders use notaries to close on loans. After calling the lender, they send out a notary, who you’ve never met before, to gather signatures on important documents. In Georgia, anyone can become a notary if they fill out an application and have a couple people endorse them as having a good character. The notary applicant then pays a small fee, takes an oath, and that’s it.
By contrast, a lawyer has three years of legal training and has passed a rigorous bar exam before they can hold themselves out to the public as a lawyer. With this training, a lawyer is more capable of spotting legal problems in a real estate closing than a notary. They also understand the consequences of not filling out paperwork properly, which a notary might be completely blind to.
Notaries Aren’t Necessarily Cheaper
You might simply assume that lawyers are more expensive than notaries and that you want to save some money with your closing. This is a huge mistake. In fact, if something goes wrong, you might have to pay thousands of dollars to fix it. It’s probably better to have the closing go smoothly in the first place.
You Can Complain if a Lawyer Screws You Over
The vast majority of lawyers in Georgia are ethical. However, a bad apple can creep in every now and then and either scam you or not perform their job competently. In this situation, you have several avenues of recourse.
For example, you can report the lawyer to the Georgia Bar, who will notify the lawyer and investigate whether the lawyer has behaved unethically. If they have, then the lawyer can be sanctioned and might possibly have their law license suspended. Because lawyers don’t want to be sanctioned, they have a strong incentive for providing competent legal representation and to correct any mistakes that might have been made.
You can also sue a lawyer in court for legal malpractice, essentially arguing that the lawyer’s carelessness cost you money. If you win your lawsuit, you can receive money to compensate you for any financial loss.
Conversely, you have less protection if you rely on a notary. Many notaries and lenders might not be around if something goes wrong with the closing process. It might be hard to contact them and even harder to sue them.
Call a Georgia Real Estate Lawyer Today
Because most people’s mortgages are their largest debt, it’s important to do a Georgia real estate closing right. At Epps Law Group, we handle the entire closing to make sure all documents are filled out correctly and everything is in order. Fill out our online contact form or call us at 678-456-4627 for a free consultation.