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Notary Bulletin

Quiz: Notarizing For Relatives

Updated 11-16-16. Notaries Public have a duty to be impartial and avoid bias. But what do you do if your spouse, child, parent or other family member asks you for a notarization? Do you have to say no?​ Take our quiz to test your knowledge.


1. Even if your state allows you to notarize for family members, some state officials and the NNA recommend that you avoid doing so.

A. True
B. False

ANSWER: True. State laws vary regarding notarizing a relative’s signature — some permit it while others prohibit it. But even if your state permits notarizing for family members, many state officials and the NNA recommend against it to avoid your notarizations being questioned because you are related to the signer. For example, the Alabama Attorney General issued an opinion that Notaries should avoid notarizing for spouses or immediate family. See the NNA’s Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibility Section II-B-5 for the NNA’s recommendation.

2. If you are notarizing a family member’s signature, you can bypass your state’s standard identification rules because you know the family member.

A. True
B. False

ANSWER: False. Even if your state permits you to notarize a relative’s signature, you still have to follow your state’s requirements in identifying your relative. For example, California does not permit Notaries to use personal knowledge to verify a signer’s identity, so a California Notary must always ask the relative to present an identification document permitted by California law. If you live in a state that allows the Notary’s personal knowledge of a signer as proof of identity, follow state rules and use common sense. Don’t wave or skip a requirement for a signer just because they are family. For example, if a cousin you haven’t seen or spoken with in 12 years contacts you and asks you to notarize their signature, you should think twice before you rely solely on personal knowledge as proof of identity for the relative you haven’t interacted with for more than a decade.

3.  A Notary can notarize their own signature on a document if the Notary is a cosigner for a family member.

A. True
B. False

ANSWER: False. Even though the relative’s signature appears on the document, you never are authorized to notarize your signature or a document in which you are named. The Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibility Section II-B-2 says, “The Notary shall not notarize a signature on a document that the Notary has cosigned.”

4.  You can notarize a person’s signature without their personal appearance before you if the signer is an immediate family member.

A. True
B. False

ANSWER: False. No degree of family relationship allows Notaries to waive the personal appearance requirement. If state law permits notarizing a close relative’s signature, the relative must still physically appear before the Notary for the notarization.

5. Notaries may notarize the signature of a deceased signer provided the signer was a parent, child or sibling of the Notary and personally known.

A. True
B. False

Answer. False. Notaries are not authorized to notarize the signature of deceased persons, as there is no way for the deceased signer to appear, be identified or make their intentions clear to the Notary — regardless of whether the deceased was related to the Notary or not.

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



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Add your comment

Linda Klemm

10 Nov 2015

Can I perform a marriage?

Marcia Tippenhauer

10 Nov 2015

As a best prospect, a notary should have a journal?

Christina Hough

21 Nov 2016

Hi Marcia, notaries in California are required to maintain a sequential journal of notarial acts. I would contact your state's Secretary of State to determine what the requirements are.

Kenneth Squires

21 Nov 2016

Very informative keep up the good work

G. Allen

13 Dec 2016

Good exercise. Please send more.

Chris Kelley

12 Sep 2018

Enjoyed your quiz, Please send more.

14 Dec 2020

Love learning more

Maria Smith

09 Mar 2021

Is it ok if my mother notarized paperwork for me?

National Notary Association

09 Mar 2021

Hello. The answer depends on your state's Notary laws. Can you tell us what state your mother is commissioned in?

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