Is Notarizing for Relatives Permitted?
If a relative asks you to notarize a document, the first thing to do is check your state’s law. A few states prohibit notaries from notarizing for family members, but some allow it, so check with your state’s laws.
If your state allows notarizing for family members, remember that you still have to follow all of the standard legal rules and guidelines for identifying the signer and completing the notarization.
The family member must appear in person in front of you, the Notary, and have their identity verified. If your state requires a journal entry, the relative will then need to sign the journal entry for the notarization. Even if the relative is a spouse or child in the same household, the above standards still apply.
Reasons to Decline a Notarization for a Relative
If you live in a state, like New York state, that allows notarizations for a relative, you’ll also want to make sure that you’re not named in the document and won’t receive any financial benefit from the transaction. If you have any involvement in the document at all, it’s best to decline to notarize and recommend the relative to a different Notary. This should also be flagged if your spouse asks you to verify their signature. If you could benefit from a transaction in any way, it’s best to have another Notary validate the document.
If you notarize a document in which you would knowingly receive a financial benefit, and it’s prohibited under your state law, that could be a violation of the Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibility. You could incur fines and face severe penalties, or have legal action brought against you, and maybe even lose your notary license. And, that wouldn’t be covered under your bond insurance or errors and omissions insurance, especially if the act was intentionally permitted. So, it’s best to opt-out of that kind of transaction.
How to Record a Family Member Notarization in your Journal
If your state allows you to notarize a relative’s document, the notarization is recorded in your journal the same way you would record a notarization for a non-relative. First, the relative is required to appear in person with their document. If your state allows “personally known to me” as an option to verify the relative’s identity, you can select this option in your journal or make a note of this identity type.
If you don’t have this option, make sure the signer brings valid identification and record this information in your journal. Second, you should record the location and date of notarization, the type of notarization, the signature fee (if you are collecting one), and lastly, have the relative sign the journal entry. Again, as long as your state allows for notarizations for a relative, be sure to scan the entire document to be notarized and ensure that you have no benefit gain or are named in the document.
Most importantly, always follow the rules and your state laws. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you are unsure whether notarizing for a family member is permitted. Always check your state laws or contact the NNA hotline if you are a member.
Another notary signing that may raise questions as a notary is whether or not you can notarize a minor’s signature. We answer that question in our article, Can you notarize a Minor’s signature.