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Lawyer vs Notary Public for Your Mortgage: What’s the Difference?

Lawyer vs Notary Public for Your Mortgage: What’s the Difference?

British Columbians are some of the lucky few in Canada who have a choice when it comes to selecting their legal representative to complete their real estate purchase, sale, or refinance transaction. They have the choice between a Lawyer and a B.C. Notary Public. But what’s the difference?

The first key difference is their educational paths. Lawyers complete their Bachelor’s degree before taking the LSAT exam. If successful, they then apply for Law school, where they will write the Bar examination. On the other hand, since 2007 Notaries have been required to obtain a Bachelor’s degree, then apply to the BC Notaries Society and SFU’s specialized Master’s degree program (Masters of Applied Legal Studies). If they complete both of these qualifications and the Society approves their applications, then they are permitted to write the BC Statutory exams. The full set of requirements of how to become a Notary Public in BC can be found on the Society website.

The second key difference is their areas of practice. Notaries focus on two key areas of legal practice: Real Estate Conveyancing and Wills & Estates. You can see a complete list of services a Notary Public can offer online. In both of these areas Notaries are not only able to give legal advice, but they are required to do so as determined by the Notaries Act and by the Supreme Court of BC. In fact, when it comes to real estate in BC, Notaries are responsible for significantly more than half of the conveyancing performed in the province. A Notary’s main mandate is to protect the public and advise on the areas in which they practice. As specialists in these areas Notaries do not branch off into other areas of the law or any other matter where contentious issues exist.

The most common question people ask is, “Why choose a Notary over a Lawyer to handle my real estate deal?” The answer is not price, although that might be a factor. Rather the answer is simply this: you, as a consumer, have the right to choose who you’re most comfortable with, and who you believe will do the best job for you. So, regardless of whether you choose a Notary or Lawyer, you should ask the professional you are considering hiring the following key questions:

  • Do you handle this type of transaction frequently?
  • What will my costs be, including all fees, disbursements and taxes?
  • Are you available to take on my transaction?

Those looking to use a Notary are encouraged to ask around to see if they know anyone who has used the service before. The opportunity to speak with someone who has used a Notary will give you an idea as to their client service approach. Lastly, it is advised that you do your background research and check the Notary’s website to find out more about their abilities and the service experience.

This blog post was contributed by our colleague Kristy Martin, Notary Public at Farley Martin Notaries Public, Inc.

At Farley Martin Notaries Public Inc., our goal is to handle your transaction in  the most professional manner possible from start to completion; a manner that allows you to be informed, educated and completely satisfied with your experience. Our primary aim is providing excellence in service to an informed public.

Originally published July 2014; updated October 2017, April 2022

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