Is a contract legally binding without a notary present at the time of the signing?

UPDATED: Dec 2, 2011

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Is a contract legally binding without a notary present at the time of the signing?

I bought a used car off someone. They said it was in great condition. It wasn’t. So he lied about the condition. The brakes went out in it along with numerous problems and I’ve only had it a couple months. I owe the guy $1000; I paid $300 already. Do I still have to pay the remaining amount?

Asked on December 2, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Indiana


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

1) A notary is irrelevant to a contract--having a notary does not make a contract any more legal or binding, and a contract is legal and binding without one.

2) However, the above said, if the seller made material misrepresentations--that is, important lies, such as about the condition of the car--to induce, or convince, you to sign the contract, those misrepresentations may constitute fraud and render the contract null and void. Therefore, you may be entitled, if he knowingly lied, to return the car and get your money back. If the seller will not do this voluntarily, however, you will have to sue him.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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