Notarizing for Minors
At times, the question comes up, “can you notarize a minor’s signature?”. Contrary to what may be the belief, you can notarize for minors. Like any other signer, the minor will need to appear in person before the notary and be identified satisfactorily.
No matter the age, personal appearance is always required. If a minor cannot provide a government-issued proof of identification, I.D. card, or passport, a credible witness is needed to verify the minor’s identity. A learner’s permit is an acceptable form of proof to verify the identity of a minor. It is a government-issued proof of identity that includes a picture, date of birth, address, and signature of the minor.
The number of credible witnesses required will depend on each state’s notary law. The witness must not be the minor’s parent, and all witnesses will need to show valid identification. When credible witnesses are used to verify the identity of a minor, the notary must administer the credible witness oath, “Do you swear under penalty of perjury that you know (the minor’s name) and that he/she is the person whose signature needs to be notarized?”
Affidavit of Identity of Credible Witness
The notary may want to consider completing the Affidavit of Identity of Credible Witness to document the verification of identity transaction. Not all states require this, but those who do will determine how and when this should be used. If the minor’s identity can be established, then the notary can proceed with the notarization.
The Minor Must Understand the Importance of the Notarial Act
Follow these steps to make sure the minor understands what they’re signing:
- Explain to the minor that a notary has to ask the signer questions to make sure they understand what they are signing and that they are signing the document freely and for the right purpose.
- Suppose the minor can be identified, and they confirm that they understand and agree to what they are signing and understand the importance of why the document has to be notarized. In that case, the notary can proceed with the notarization.
Once you’ve clearly outlined the process, take the standard action of reviewing the document to be notarized, checking for any blank spaces, completing the notarial certificate, and having the minor and their credible witness sign their notary journal.
Speaking of understanding the notarial act, it is important that all people, regardless of age, understand what they are signing. National Paralegal Notary has a great article on this subject with the article, Determining Sound Mind. It is worth the read.
How do you Record the Notary transaction in your Notary Journal?
The notary journal should include the minor’s name, address, place of notarization, the type of notarization, and the credible witness should be selected for identity verification. Both the minor and credible witnesses should sign the notary journal. If no credible witness was used, the notary would choose the appropriate type of identification used, and only the minor will need to sign the notary journal.
What is the Youngest age that a Notary can Notarize for a Minor?
There is no minimum age unless stated in your specific notary state laws. However, the notary needs to use good judgment before proceeding. As long as the minor can be adequately identified by either valid identification or by a credible witness, can read the document to be notarized, and understand what they are signing and the reason for the notarization, the notary can proceed with the notarization.
If the minor cannot read the document or are mentally incapable of understanding the reason for the notarization because they are not mature enough to understand, then the notary should refuse it.
Why Can’t the Parents be Credible Witnesses?
Credible witnesses need to be disinterested parties who have no interest in the transaction or business of the document. It’s difficult to determine that a parent wouldn’t have an interest in the document, so credible witnesses must be someone other than a parent.
It is not up to the notary to determine why the parent cannot sign. If the minor shows up with a document to be notarized, the notary does not have the legal authority to decide who would best fit to sign on the minor’s behalf. Unless a notary is an attorney or working under the guidance of an attorney, the notary does not have the expertise or training to advise about who should sign the document for the minor. The notary’s job is to verify the minor’s ability to understand and sign the document and ensure that the minor understands what they are signing.
The situation may arise, where you are asked to be a witness. Check out our article on when can a notary also be a witness.
Generally speaking, notarizing for a minor is not very different than notarizing for a signer who is over the age of 18. Remember, the minor has to appear in person before the notary, present acceptable proof of identification, understand what they are signing and why, and be able to read the document and sign the document.
Additionally, if the minor does not have proper identification, the notary can use a credible witness other than a parent to verify the minor’s identity. If these above conditions aren’t met, the notary should refuse the notarization.