Notary Question: Can a Notary notarize for Family Members?

Notary Question: Can a Notary notarize for Family Members?

A Notary serves as an impartial witness to the signing of important documents.  Their primary function is to verify the identity of the signers in an effort to prevent fraud.  If a Notary is asked to notarize for a family member such as a spouse, daughter, mother or father, the question becomes whether a Notary can serve without bias.

Not all States Permit Notarizing For a Family Member

Many states do allow notaries to  notarize for family members, but the safest and most practical decision may be to avoid this situation.

If asked to notarize for an immediate family member, or any family member for that matter, the first thing you should do is check your state notary laws.  For example, Florida and Massachusetts are two of the states that prohibit Notaries from performing notary acts for family members such as spouse, parents, or children. On the other hand, there are states, such as Texas that don’t specifically outline any restrictions for family members at all, but many states do caution Notaries against notarizing for family members even though they are not restricted to do so.  New York is one of those states that does not specifically prohibit Notaries from notarizing for family members, however if possible, they should decline if asked to do so.

Happy female soldier with her family at home just before a notary family member helps her with her documents and discusses how to proceed to notarize for Family Members she  ships off overseas
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Direct Benefit

When a notary is asked to notarize a document for a family member, there’s a high probability that there may be a direct financial (or other) benefit to the notary as a result of the transaction.  Documents such as power of attorneys or wills to name a few, may not name the notary as a beneficiary or recipient of any financial gains, however, if a Notary is related to the husband who is named in the document, this is what is referred to as an in-direct benefit.  This could present a conflict of interest and should be avoided at all costs.

When To Refuse a Notarization for a family member?

A Notary Public should comply with every request to notarize a document, but there may be times when the request is unreasonable or unlawful.  It is unlawful for a Notary to notarize their own signature and it is also unlawful for a Notary to notarize a document for a family member or friend which names the Notary in the document.  Notarizing these documents renders them invalid and could cause repercussions for the notary.

Notaries are also prohibited from notarizing documents when there are vested benefits.  Vested benefits are interests that contain a promise of present or future enjoyment.  A good example of where a notary might experience a vested interest is with a mortgage or deed on a home or with a transfer of ownership.  For example, if a notary is asked to notarize a document for her husband that involves the sale and transfer of ownership of her mother-in-law’s property, although the Notary is not named, there will be an indirect benefit to the notary in the future.

There are other transactions in which a notary may obtain a beneficial interest. This may occur with transactions where the notary is named as a trust or beneficiary on a pension.  Even though the notary is not the owner of the fund, he/she may have the potential of receiving benefits from the fund based on certain conditions.

a man has dinner with his family outdoors at a picnic table and preparing to notarize for Family Members
Group of happy family having lunch and making a toasting at restaurant

The above two examples are what we called conflict of interests.  The conflict exists between the notary and the constituent and not between two constituents. A notary must remain an impartial witness at all times as a disinterested party in all notary transactions.

When there is a beneficial or vested interest, notaries should make every effort to redirect the constituent to another notary.  These hidden benefits might also present themselves when providing notary services for friends.  It is the Notary’s job to be vigilant of recognizing when there may be some sort of personal benefit in the event that the notarization ever was to be challenged in a court proceeding.  The best and safest option is to simply avoid notarizing for family members and close friends to avoid any possible conflicts.

Kim Jones Notary

Kim Jones

Notary Roc City Notary Services

Kim Jones is a veteran mobile Notary and Notary Signing Agent with over 15 years of experience. Kim is the Owner and Operator of Roc City Notary Services in upstate NY.

Notary Jane: Kim Jones
Instagram: @roccitynotary
Website: RocCityNotary.com

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