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Hotline Tip: Can My Attorney-Employer Serve As A Subscribing Witness?

NNA Hotline Tips For NotariesMy employer recently asked me to notarize several documents for a client who is competent, but unable to sign her documents. My boss, who is an attorney, has informed me that it is legal for the client's husband to sign for her as long as it is with her express permission, which he has.

Nothing in the documents I’ve been asked to notarize expressly states that it is the husband that signed for his wife. Furthermore, I did not witness the actual signing. The attorney swears that he witnessed the signing and will act as a subscribing witness. Given the situation, is this a notarization I am authorized to perform? – E.G., Oil City, PA

Whether the husband can sign for the wife is a legal question we do not have the authority to answer. In reference to the attorney swearing that he witnessed the signature, in Pennsylvania that particular act is called an "Acknowledgment by Attorney at Law or Proof of Execution by Subscribing Witness." To perform this type of notarization, you need to use a specific form instead of the usual acknowledgment form. You will find the form on the Pennsylvania Department of State web page.

Once on the page, click "Laws," then click "Uniform Acknowledgement Act." Scroll down to "Section 7, Forms of Certificates," then scroll down to #5, "By Any Attorney-at-Law." That contains the wording you need to use.

Not all states allow Notaries to take a proof of execution by subscribing witness, and only Pennsylvania requires the subscribing witness to be an attorney. Notaries who receive similar requests should consult their statutes for guidance, or they may simply contact the NNA Hotline for assistance.

Hotline answers are based on the laws in the state where the question originated and may not reflect the laws of other states. If in doubt, always refer to your own state statutes. – The Editors


Confronted with a tricky notarization? Unsure how to proceed? NNA members have unlimited access to our expertly trained NNA Hotline counselors to help you with all of your notarial questions. Call (888) 876-0827, Monday through Friday, 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST; Saturday, 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST

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