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Notary Bulletin

Quiz: Relationships And Notarization

Valentine’s Day is all about celebrating relationships — but for Notaries, relationships to a loved one, spouse or family member can be challenging when performing their duties. A signer’s relationship to a Notary or other people sometimes even requires the Notary to decline a request for notarial services. Take our quiz to see how much you know about different relationship situations and how they affect notarial acts.

 

 

ANSWERS:

1. Performing a notarization for a spouse or close family member:
A. Can lead to the Notary’s impartiality being questioned
B. Is prohibited in some states
C. Is permitted in some states provided the Notary is not named in the document and doesn’t benefit from the transaction
D. All of the above

ANSWER: D. State laws vary widely regarding notarizing a document for a spouse or family member. Nevada prohibits Notaries from notarizing for relatives including spouses, parents, grandparents, children and siblings. Florida prohibits notarizing the signatures of spouses, children or parents, but permits Notaries to officiate weddings for family members. Other states, such as Oregon, do not prohibit notarizing for relatives but discourage Notaries from doing so because the Notary’s impartiality might be questioned if the notarized document was ever challenged in court. To avoid any appearance of bias, the NNA generally recommends signers to use a Notary who is not related to them.

2. If a person comes to you and asks you to notarize the signature of an absent relative:
A. It’s OK because the person is vouching for the relative’s identity
B. You can do it if the person making the request presents an ID card for the absent relative
C. Since the relative isn’t present you may not notarize unless the relative personally appears
D. You must speak to the relative by telephone before proceeding

ANSWER: C. You may not notarize an absent signer’s signature based solely on the word of another person — even if that person claims to be a spouse, child or other close family member. There have been cases reported where family members and spouses have attempted to have a signature notarized without the relative’s knowledge in order to commit fraud in order to gain control of property or to claim assets during divorce proceedings. Always ensure that the signer is physically present and has satisfactory proof of identity to ensure the signer is willing and aware of what is being signed and notarized before proceeding.

3. True or False: If an elderly signer cannot speak or respond to you, it’s still OK to proceed if a member of the signer’s family directs you to do so.

ANSWER: False. Direct communication to a signer is always required before proceeding with a notarization. If a signer is unresponsive or uncommunicative, you should not proceed with the notarization, even if one of the signer’s relatives insists you do so. The signer’s relative may be pushing for the notarization against the wishes of the signer or seeking to commit fraud.

David Thun is an Associate Editor at the National Notary Association.

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