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May I Refuse To Notarize If A Signer Appears Mentally Impaired?

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Can I legally refuse to notarize a document for someone who seems to be mentally impaired, such as an older person that appears to have dementia? D.M., California

California state law does not explicitly permit you to refuse a notarization for an individual who is mentally impaired. That said, it would be unwise to notarize for an individual who shows clear signs of dementia at the time of notarization. The Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibility recommends against performing a notarization “for any person if the Notary has a reasonable belief that can be articulated that the person at the moment is not aware of the significance of the transaction.” (Standard III-C-1)

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 1-888-876-0827, Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. PST; Saturday, 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST.


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13 Mar 2017

Your answers are always so generic. I do not think your answer satisfies the question. D.M. is asking for the legality. Your answer sounds like California law prevents a notary from refusing, but the following sentence says that a notary should refuse. Which is the legal standing on this? Can a notary LEGALLY refuse?

15 Mar 2017

I think the answer makes perfect sense, Artur. What the editors are saying is that the law is not explicit on the matter, which means that the law does not show support either way on this issue. So the editors provided information on what is recommended, which should the guiding principle in the absence of explicit legislation.

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