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Can a Notary Notarize for Family Members?

Updated: Mar 23, 2022

When signing important documents, notaries often play an indispensable and impartial witness role. However, when their family members, such as spouse, parents, children, and siblings, need notarized documents, can notaries notarize for them without prejudice? Restrictions on and processing of these documents involving notarization of signatures vary from state to state.

1. Not all states allow notaries to notarize for their family members

First of all, not all states allow notaries to serve their own family members. Some states prohibit notaries from notarizing for most family members, while others do not allow notarizing for certain family members.

For example,

  • In Florida and Massachusetts, notaries are prohibited from notarizing the signatures of their spouses, parents, and children.

  • Massachusetts is stricter, extending the scope to partners, half- and step-relatives.

  • North Dakota, Oregon, and West Virginia prohibit notarization for spouses only, but in West Virginia the state also advises against notarizing for other family members if they will receive money or property benefit from the transaction.

  • In Pennsylvania, a notary cannot notarize a document if his or her spouse has a direct or pecuniary interest in.

  • In Virginia, the law states that a notary cannot act as a notary if he or her spouse is named, signed, or benefiting from a party to a document.

Conversely, many states (such as Texas) have no restrictions at all. Some states, such as Alabama, California, and Montana, warn notaries not to notarizing for family members, even though the law does not ban it.

2. Notaries usually won't notarize if they will benefit

Even if the notary's state does not restrict them from performing notarization services for family members, we advise notaries not to notarize if the notary would benefit in any way from the transaction. So, whether the notary will benefit is a relatively easy guide and standard to follow in those states.

If the notary holds joint property, any transaction involving the spouse may benefit the notary, even if the notary's name does not appear on the document. In California, for example, the law does not prohibit notarization for family members, but does prohibit it if notaries have any kind of involvement in the notarized documents, including a direct financial or other interest except the notary fees.

To avoid their biases and risks, notaries often refer family members to another notary who has no relationship or interest in the transaction. It is precisely because of the legal restrictions and the notary's compliance with the codes, that the notaries play an irreplaceable role in the signing of documents, the identity verification of signers, their willingness to sign, and the acknowledgment of the contents of documents.

Souce: NNA


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