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Should I Refuse To Notarize An Incomplete Document?

New Hotline Resized 3I was presented a document with acknowledgment wording included. Because a section of the document was not completed, I did not feel comfortable performing the notarization. What should I have done?V.P., Arizona

What you did was correct. An Arizona statute prohibits performing a jurat on a document that is incomplete (ARS 41-328[A]), but the statute does not specifically apply to acknowledgments. That said, the Secretary of State recommends that a Notary never notarize a signature on any document containing obvious blank spaces. Any blanks in a document must be filled in by the signer prior to notarization. If the blanks are inapplicable and intended to be left unfilled, the signer should line through each space or write “Not Applicable” or “N/A.” If a signer is unsure how to fill in the blanks, they should contact the document’s issuer, its recipient or an attorney.

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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Kate Sanborn

12 Jun 2018

Can the notary line through blank areas in a document, or write "N/A" if the signer agrees they're inapplicable and meant to be blank? As long as they note it in their journal?

National Notary Association

13 Jun 2018

Hello Kate. As the Notary, you are not authorized to make any changes to the main body of the document. Notaries may only write or correct the Notary certificate wording. The signer would have to make any changes in the main body of the document, or take the document to the agency that drafted it for correction.

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