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Liability Prevention Tip: Personal Appearance Is Always Required Even For Familiar Signers

On occasion an attorney or supervisor might ask you to notarize signatures of important clients without requiring personal appearance in order to avoid imposing on the client. If the client regularly has documents notarized, it would be easy to rationalize this request because you have previously identified the client and are familiar with his or her signature.

As innocent as this may seem, it greatly increases threats of fraud and exposes you, your firm, and the client to potential fraud. Notaries should never notarize a signature under these conditions, as personal appearance is a legal requirement in all U.S. jurisdictions.

By law, the signer must personally appear and be identified each time a notarization is performed. This protects the signer, the business and the Notary from potential fraud and liability that could result if the document is improperly notarized without verifying the signer’s willingness and identity, and later invalidated as a result.

While it may be awkward to ask a reluctant client to personally appear before a Notary every time, it is far better than risking the costly civil and criminal penalties that could result from failing to do so.

1 Comment

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Stephen Otake

27 Nov 2016

Notary Public did not show up for scheduled appointment causing me monetary losses. This was for a mortgage refinance with a deadline.

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