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Notarizing A Signature By Proxy

signature-by-proxy-resized.jpgThere are times when a person needs to sign a document and have it notarized immediately, but the person is unable to write at all. Some states allow signers who can’t write to use an option called signature by proxy, where someone else present signs on behalf of the person who is unable to write. Here are answers to the most common questions about signatures by proxy. 

How Does A Signature By Proxy Work?

The basic idea is that since the person requesting the notarization is physically unable to write, they direct someone else to sign the document as their proxy. Depending on state laws, there are different restrictions for who may act as the proxy.

In Florida, Texas and Michigan, the disabled person must direct the Notary to sign the document on the disabled person’s behalf. Florida also requires a signature by proxy to be witnessed by two other people with no interest in the document. Texas requires a single disinterested witness who must provide the Notary with proof of identity in the same way as the signer. Michigan does not require additional witnesses for a signature by proxy.

All three states require the Notary to include a statement that the signature was affixed according to the appropriate state law. For example, Florida Notaries must write “Signature affixed by notary, pursuant to
s. 117.05[14], Florida Statutes” below the signature.

Hawaii allows a Notary to sign as a proxy, but the Notary must be provided with a doctor’s written certificate that the person is physically unable to sign or make a mark but can communicate their intention to the Notary.

In Colorado and Minnesota, a third party — not the Notary — must sign the document at the disabled person’s direction while the disabled person and the Notary are present. The words “Signature attached by (name)” or “Signature written by (name)” must be included under or near the signature. Minnesota also allows the third party to use the individual’s signature stamp to make the signature by proxy. North Carolina requires a disinterested third party to be the signer by proxy and to sign the document in the presence of the Notary and two other witnesses unaffected by the document.  

Do not notarize a signature by proxy in states whose Notary laws do not provide statutory guidelines, such as Pennsylvania. Always check your laws before proceeding to notarize signatures by proxy. For example, California's Notary laws do not provide statutory guidelines for signatures by proxy involving general documents, but California Probate Code 4121 allows a signature by proxy to be used for signing power of attorney documents only, provided the signature is made by another adult in the principal signer's presence and at the principal signer's direction. 

Is A Signature By Proxy The Same As A Power Of Attorney?

No. A power of attorney gives someone legal power to sign documents and make decisions on behalf of another individual. Asking someone to sign as a proxy does not give the proxy power to make decisions for the signer.

Is A Signature By Proxy The Same As A Signature By Mark?
 

No. Unlike a signature by mark, a signature by proxy is normally only used when a signer is completely unable to write, including being unable to make a mark such as an “X.”

Can Someone Hold Or Guide A Signer’s Hand Instead Of Using A Signature By Proxy?

No. It is never appropriate for another person to physically hold and move a signer’s arm to make a signature if the signer is unable to write without help. If someone asks you to notarize a signature made this way, you must tell them no.

David Thun is an Associate Editor at the National Notary Association.

13 Comments

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robert.hendricks@dignitymemorial.com

02 Jul 2018

As someone who works with a funeral home, many of my clients are elderly and/or in poor physical shape. Can anyone at NNA tell me if there is any similar law in Indiana? It would be a big help!

National Notary Association

02 Jul 2018

Hello. Indiana's Notary Public Guide states that a signer may use a stamped signature and have it notarized: "Q: May the signer use a signature stamp on the document they want notarized? A: Yes, a signature on a tangible record is a tangible symbol. A stamp, mark or other indication of execution is sufficient." See page 36 for more information: http://www.in.gov/sos/business/files/Notary_Guide.pdf

Tammy Quackenbush

02 Jul 2018

Does California allow a signer to use a signature stamp?

National Notary Association

02 Jul 2018

Hello. California Notary law does not authorize Notaries or signers to use a signature stamp for notarizations. However, California does permit a signer who is unable to write his or her name to acknowledge their signature by making a mark in the presence of two witnesses. (California Civil Code section 14.)

Allen lawrence

02 Jul 2018

Just recently saw a caregiver, stamp the client's signature in her presence. I asked her to sign behind the lady and also my journal entry for this transaction. I'm in Louisiana

Ken Loughran

02 Jul 2018

When the notary signs a large package of documents on behalf of the disabled's behest, is the state statute verbiage required below all signature lines or only those documents that require a notary seal? My initial thought is that each signature would indeed require the verbiage.

National Notary Association

03 Jul 2018

Hello. To help us answer your question can you please tell us what state you are commissioned in?

Terrie Gillett

05 Jul 2018

Hi NNA, When someone asked me to help with a POA signing of a paraplygic many years ago, I turned to the NNA for assistance. At the time, I was told that we could indeed sign with a proxy even though I'm in CA. Per your advice at that time, we used probate code 4121-B which states: "(b) The power of attorney is signed either (1) by the principal or (2) in the principal’s name by another adult in the principal’s presence and at the principal’s direction." That code is still in effect, so the article above with reference to CA may be a bit misleading.... Hope that helps!

National Notary Association

05 Jul 2018

Hi Terrie, thank you for your message. While the article is primarily focused on signature by proxy provisions in state Notary statutes, you are correct about the CA Probate Code provision. We've updated the article to include the provision about power of attorney documents in California. California is a challenging state to report on because there are isolated Notary provisions included in many of CA's separate Codes.

Lesley

25 Jul 2018

Does Alabama allow signature by proxy?

National Notary Association

26 Jul 2018

Hello. Code of Alabama 35-4-20 provides the following instructions regarding written conveyances of land: “…if he is not able to sign his name, then his name must be written for him, with the words ‘his mark’ written against the same, or over it; the execution of such conveyance must be attested by one witness or, where the party cannot write, by two witnesses who are able to write and who must write their names as witnesses; or, if he can write his name but does not do so and his name is written for him by another, then the execution must be attested by two witnesses who can and do write their names” (COA 35-4-20).

Tony Dadoush

16 Sep 2018

What about an e signature. Can the signer direct his/her name be electronically generated and placed as an e signature at the time of the notarization, with the notary then printing the document and affixing his/her signature in ink and the stamping?

National Notary Association

17 Sep 2018

Based on what you’ve described, we think it would be best if you contacted our Hotline team by phone and provided them with a more detailed description of the situation. The NNA Hotline: 1-888-876-0827 Mon – Fri: 5:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (PT) Saturday: 5:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (PT) If you’re not an NNA Member or Hotline Subscriber, they will provide you with a one-time courtesy call.

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