Should I come to a Notary or a Lawyer for my Real Estate transactions?

BC Notary or Lawyer?

This is perhaps one of the most frequent questions come to mind when we have a need for real estates. Many people who come from other provinces or countries didn’t know that in British Columbia you can certainly hire a Notary to do a real estate transaction. Even BC residents get confused.

In order to answer this question, let’s explore the similarities and differences between a Notary and a Lawyer.

The Similarities:

Both BC Notaries and lawyers are fully legitimate to help you with real estate transactions such as buying or selling a house and mortgages.

Both are experts in the areas that we choose to practice. If we act for you in a residential real estate transaction, for example; our experience will help us to identify issues and deal with them before they become problems. In fact, Notaries do 70% of all residential real estate transactions in BC. We are highly trained and experienced in this area of law.

The Differences:

In education:

  • BC Notaries now complete both an undergraduate degree and a Master of Arts in Applied Legal Studies; as well as writing statutory exams administered by provincially appointed examiners.  They also must be accepted into The Society of Notaries Public of British Columbia.  BC Notaries have mandatory continuing education in the areas where we practice. BC Notaries are very well trained in the areas we practice.
  • Lawyers need both an undergraduate degree and a law degree. They also must pass a provincial examination and article at a law firm for a year before they practice. Lawyers start our as generalists, then typically get trained to specialize in i.e. criminal law, tax law, family law.

In legal matters:

  • BC Notaries do not represent clients in court and do not get involved in litigation. Notary work is restricted on non-contentious matters in which all parties involved have already reached an agreement, like in real estate transfers, mortgages and estate planning.
  • Lawyers may represent clients in court when there is a litigation. However the same lawyer who did your real estate transaction cannot represent you in court due to conflict of interest.

In services:

  BC Notaries BC Lawyers
Certified true copy X X
Affidavits X X
Statutory declarations X X
Travel consent letters X X
“Still alive” letters/certificates X X
Land Title documents from other provinces X X
Standard Wills X X
Representation Agreements X X
Executor appointments X X
Powers of Attorney X X
Residential conveyancing X X
Trust Wills   X
Separation agreements   X
Uncontested divorces   X
Prenuptial or cohabitation agreements   X
Incorporating a company   X
Annual corporate records   X
Probate   X


Still not sure which one you need?

All BC Notaries receive ongoing training in matters of real estate, wills and estate planning; as well as notarizations for use in Canada and around the world.

In British Columbia, all lawyers are also “notaries public” which means they can legally act in the same practice areas as BC Notaries. Some lawyers choose to practice in the traditional areas of BC Notaries.

Whether you choose a BC Notary or a lawyer, it is always essential to choose someone who specializes and experiences in the area that you need.

Listen to advice of friends, colleagues and ask for a referral. Check out the reviews online. Find someone you are comfortable with and feel that you can get to know, like and trust them.

Get in touch and we will be happy to answer any further questions.

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