Some of the most common questions notary publics ask are in regards to notarizing for friends and family. Below is a list of the most common scenarios we have encountered and comprehensive answers to them.
Question: Can I, as a notary public, notarize the documents of close friends and family members? Am I strictly prohibited from notarizing the documents of certain relations?
Answer: The practice in many states is to prohibit the notarizing of signatures belonging to immediate family relations such as parents, spouse, children, grandparents, sisters, brothers, grandchildren, step-relations, and in-laws. Best practice would be to have other notary publics handle documents for close family and friends:
Question: If I am the Secretary or Treasurer of a corporation of which I am a shareholder, can I notarize company documents signed by my father, who is our President?
Answer: The operating rule of thumb to guide you here is that a notary public who stands to benefit either directly or indirectly from a transaction cannot act as notary to the instrumental document. A third party notary who is completely disinterested in the proceedings should be sought to handle the notarization.
Question: Could I have my oath notarized by my aunt?
Answer: Although some states allow notarization by ‘distant’ relations, it’s always a better idea to have it done by a completely disinterested party whenever possible.
Question: Can I carry out notarization on behalf of non-immediate relatives such as my first cousins?
Answer: Most states currently do not allow for the notarizing of signatures belonging to relations such as nieces, nephews, uncles, aunts, and cousins.
Question: My mother in law passed away, leaving a small lake lot to their family, for which each member needs notarization of their signature. Can I perform the service?
Answer: No. The interest you hold in the transaction disqualifies you from eligibility as a notary public in this instance. Most states declare that spouses hold an interest in property accumulated in the course of a marriage. The wise course of action, to eliminate all suggestion of bias and preserve the integrity of the notarization itself, a third party with no interest in the transaction should carry out the task.
Question: Am I allowed to notarize a document signed by a friend in which I stand as a beneficiary?
Answer: No. A notary public must decline a notarization if they are a party to the transaction or stand to benefit in any way from it. This is so that the appearance of bias can be completely avoided and the integrity of the notarization preserved. Have a third party with no interest in the transaction carry out the notarization.
Question: On documents that do not bear my own name, can I notarize my husband’s signature?
Answer: Please consult an attorney to determine whether you might have any fee, commission, right, title, advantage, interest, payment, property, or other consideration due to you as a result of the document’s action before performing the notarial action as this would disqualify you from notarial eligibility.
Question: Can I notarize documents for my husband, who works as an attorney, should the documents not involve me in any way?
Answer: Best practice calls for us to preserve the integrity of the notarization, thus preventing possible challenges down the road, by declining the notarization of documents for relatives and spouses.
Question: Should my husband appear on the ballot, can I notarize an election proxy?
Answer: Best practice again calls for us to preserve the integrity of the notarization, thus preventing possible challenges down the road occasioned by perceived ‘conflicts of interest’, by declining the notarization of documents for relatives and spouses.
Question: Can I notarize documents relating to my husband’s business?
Answer: Community property laws in operation within some states may disqualify you from this role as there would be a demonstrable conflict of interest, and thus the better choice would be to decline the notarization.
Question: Should my husband prepare a power of attorney, can I notarize it?
Answer: In this instance, a clear financial and beneficial interest could be demonstrated, and thus weaken the integrity of the notarization. It is best to decline the notarization and seek a disinterested party to carry it out.
Question: Can I be the one to notarize my husband’s last will and testament?
Answer: No. The clear ‘financial and beneficial interest’ in this scenario would disqualify you, as the integrity of the notarization could be called into question.
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