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Quiz: Relationships and notarization


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 the Assistant Managing Editor with the National Notary Association.

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Add your comment


09 Feb 2016

Notarizing for family members can be tricky, especially when surnames are the same. But, when it doubt, just don't do it.

Vicki K

10 Feb 2016

My response to the above comment would be NEVER notarize for a family member, even if the law allows it. Better to be always safe, than 1 time sorry.

Sandi Fong

13 Mar 2018

If a parent purchasing or doing a refinance transaction is not fluent in English is it ok for the daughter to translate?

National Notary Association

14 Mar 2018

Hello. Can you please clarify if you are referring to translating the entire refinance document or just the Notary certificate? Also, can you please tell us what state this is taking place in?

John d

11 Dec 2019

My mother (We live in NY) is asking me to notarize a statement saying her relationship with her fianc� from Germany is real. Is this needed and how would I Go about it ? Is there a template for this or do I just create a document ?

National Notary Association

11 Dec 2019

Hello. Your mother would need to contact the agency requesting the letter for instructions.

Windy H.

09 Apr 2020

A lawyer is challenging a Durable Power of Attorney in Florida signed by the Principle with two witnesses because it does not contain the statement, personally known or type of ID. According to Florida Law, this is not required. This was in 2008. Will NNA support the Notary Public in court when there is a bond?

National Notary Association

13 Apr 2020

Hello. We are not attorneys and cannot provide legal advice or representation for individuals in a court case. A surety bond is not an insurance policy and does not pay for a Notary's attorney costs-the bond is used to pay financial damages suffered by an individual due to a Notary's error. For more information, please see here:

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