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Can A Notary 'Witness' Signatures Without Personal Appearance?

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We have recently hired a new paralegal who is asking us to "witness" signatures on documents. She puts the documents on the signers’ desks, they sign and then she picks up the folders and gives them to us to "witness" even though we did not actually witness the signing. I have refused to do this; however, my supervisor is applying pressure for all of us to "conform." Could you supply a concise response to this situation? I am still refusing to sign but fear there may be consequences. J.F., Minnetonka, MN

You are correct: The signer of any document requiring an acknowledgment, verification upon oath or affirmation or signature witnessing must be present before the Notary at the time of notarization (Minnesota Statutes 358.42(a), (b) and (c); see also 359.085). Completing, signing and affixing your seal to a certificate stating that a particular signer appeared before you (when he did not) could subject you to fines and imprisonment. We suggest you show the new paralegal the written law and if she continues improperly, try contacting someone in the Human Resources department 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

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2 Comments

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jean z

01 Mar 2015

In the question, don't hear her asking you to make a notarial witness so If it's just a witness line, not a notarization.....

MARIA EVA GARCIA

14 May 2018

This article of how to handle situations when an elderly person cant sign, and the best way to do it according to our State regulations has been very helpful for me thank you for giving us Notaries the support and avoid doing wrong notarizations

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