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Can I Refuse To Notarize For A Mentally Impaired Signer?

New Hotline Resized 3I'm a Notary in the state of California. Can I legally refuse to notarize a document for someone who seems to be mentally impaired, such as an older person who appears to have dementia?D.M., California

California law does not specifically address the question of refusing to notarize for signers who are mentally impaired. However in the absence of a specific statute or law, we recommend that you follow The Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibility Section III-C-1, which states:

“The Notary shall not notarize 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 requiring a notarial act.”

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, 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST; Saturday, 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST.

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Denise Evangelista

22 Mar 2018

Could you tell me what you think would the verbal statement to make to the client if I refuse doing a notarial for a mentally impaired, drunk or unstable person?

National Notary Association

22 Mar 2018

Hello. There's no statutory wording required for refusing to perform a notarization. You would simply need to inform the client that you cannot proceed with the notarization and explain the reason why. If you wish to, you could offer to reschedule the notarization for a time when the signer will be more aware and able to sign, but you are not required to do so.

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