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Hotline Tip: Refusing A Notarization

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While Notaries are prohibited from refusing a notarization without due cause, there are situations in which you are perfectly justified -- and even legally required -- to refuse to complete a notarization.

Among the valid and compelling reasons for which you can refuse a notarization outright: when you have a compelling or reasonable suspicion that the transaction is unlawful, dishonest or improper; when you're uncertain which notarial certificate to use or how to complete it; when you cannot effectively communicate with the signer; the signature to be notarized is yours or the document bears your name or signature; when the notarization would call into question your impartiality; or when you can't positively identify the signer.

In addition, a notarization should be stopped immediately if you suspect the signer is subject to undue influence or is incapable of understanding or acting responsibly.

If you refuse a notarization, note the circumstances in your journal. Indicating why the notarization was refused could help prevent a discrimination lawsuit.

Keep in mind that you cannot refuse a notarization based on the signer's race, nationality, ethnicity, citizenship, religion, politics, lifestyle, gender, sexual orientation or the contents of the document. It would also be considered improper to refuse notarial services based on the signer's status as a non-client or noncustomer.

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JoAnn Cooper

28 Jun 2015

My grandson had a nervous breakdown, he is in St. Mary's hospital, Va. my son took Medical power forms to be notarized and was refused. My grandson was capable, since he had signed papers for the hospital, but the notary refused to stamp.

Lou Porreco

31 Dec 2016

Dana a Notary at PNC at 6416 Carlisle Pike refused to Notarize A PA Dept of Revenue document because "It was not bank related business". Google seems to indicate a PA notary can't refuse unless the person presenting themselves can't be properly identifies. I could be properly identified because I am a PNC customer, at that branch. My wife is a former PNC employ and PNC Notary. I was also told by the previous bank manager when I opened my accounts that they did notarize documents. I think the general mood of the notary has a lot to do with how they execute their duties.

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