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Notarizing A Signature By Proxy: What You Need To Know

Notarizing signature by proxy article

Updated 9-23-22. There 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.

What Do State Notary Laws Say About Proxy Signatures?

Depending on state laws, there are different restrictions for who may act as the proxy.

In Florida, Michigan and Texas, 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 also 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 a Notary signing by proxy to include a statement on the document that the signature was affixed by the Notary. 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 Proxy Signature?

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.

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67 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.

Shannon Wilson

08 Jan 2019

Does Virginia allow signature by proxy?

National Notary Association

11 Jan 2019

Hello. No, Virginia does not provide statutory guidelines for notarizing a signature by proxy.

Melissa Connell

25 Apr 2019

Can you elaborate on California law not authorizing a signer to use a signature stamp? Where I might site this law? Couldn't a signature stamp technically be a "signature by mark"? A mark being "any symbol made by the signer that represents execution of the document such as an ‘X’, a scribble, a stamp, or even a thumbprint." Thank you!

National Notary Association

26 Apr 2019

Please see our response in this comments section to Tammy Quackenbush dated July 2, 2018.

Lenise Redding

13 Sep 2019

The information regarding Idaho is incorrect. I.C. Section 51-109 states the individual who cannot sign may direct an individual *other than the notary public* to sign the individual's name.

National Notary Association

13 Sep 2019

Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We've removed the incorrect information.

Olivia Walker

27 Sep 2019

What does Kentucky law say about proxy signature?

National Notary Association

27 Sep 2019

Hello. Kentucky Notary law does not address this topic.

Brenda Cutler

01 Oct 2019

My son is in the county jail and he wants me (his Mother) to take over his finances while he is in jail. Can I do signature by Proxy to make sure that he finances are all set and do they recognize signature by Proxy in the state of Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

National Notary Association

01 Oct 2019

Hello. We're sorry, but this is a legal question that would need to be answered by a qualified attorney.

Jeffrey

09 Jun 2020

My Sister in Law was taking Care of my quadriplegic Mother in law before my mother in law passed. While my mother in law was in the hospital before she passed, my sister in law moved a bunch of assets such as vehicles in to my sister in laws name without my mother in laws knowledge . This is in California , Did there 1) need to be a Notary present for the asset transfer signature 2) can this be considered a Proxy signature even though no proof of consent exists ?

National Notary Association

10 Jun 2020

Hello. We apologize, but these are legal questions that you would need to contact a qualified attorney to answer.

paraces Delva

13 Oct 2020

Hello. these questions very helpful,thanks evryone.

paraces Delva

13 Oct 2020

Thanks for the information they so helpful

frl8750@gmail.com

14 Oct 2020

This article is timely. Do you know is acknowledgement by proxy is appropriate in Illinois? If so, do you have notarial certificate wording?

National Notary Association

16 Oct 2020

Hello. Illinois does not provide guidelines for signatures by proxy.

MM25404

02 Nov 2020

In WV, does a signature have to be notarized to vote by proxy in an HOA election?

National Notary Association

02 Nov 2020

Hello. The HOA would need to provide any information on notarization requirements for an HOA election. It would be the signer's responsibility to contact the HOA and obtain this information-a nonattorney Notary may not advise a signer whether HOA documents require notarization or not.

LYDIA MOORE

11 Oct 2021

What are the state laws / guidance for Notaries in Nevada?

National Notary Association

12 Oct 2021

“If a person is physically unable to sign a document that is presented to a notarial officer pursuant to this section, the person may direct a person other than the notarial officer to sign the person’s name on the document. The notarial officer shall insert ‘Signature affixed by (insert name of other person) at the direction of (insert name of person)’ or words of similar import” (NRS 240.1655.8). “Both the person who is physically unable to sign the document and the person directed to sign the person’s name on the document shall appear before the notarial officer at the time the document is signed” (NAC 240.340.1).

Rebecca Daniel

27 Oct 2021

What does Georgia law state as it relates to proxy signatures?

National Notary Association

29 Oct 2021

Hello. Because Georgia does not provide statutory guidelines for signatures by proxy, Georgia Notaries should not notarize a signature by proxy.

STEPHEN MOREHOUSE

03 Feb 2022

Question - I initialed and signed a will for a dying man who verbally agreed to the will as written. It was in front of a notary and 4 witnesses. Would that will be legal in Virginia? I had medical power of attorney for him but no regular POA. Thanks

National Notary Association

04 Feb 2022

Hello. We're sorry, but you need to contact a qualified attorney to answer those questions.

Joy Nettles

16 Mar 2022

With the signature by proxy being allowed for power of attorney in CA, being that the thumbprint is required for the notary journal, does the proxy also leave the thumbprint for the principal?

National Notary Association

22 Apr 2022

Signature by proxy is not an authorized Notary activity in the State of California. Please contact an attorney regarding document principals that are unable to sign a document.

National Notary Association

10 Oct 2022

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.

Andrea Donaldson

17 May 2022

Does Arkansas allow signature by proxy?

National Notary Association

18 May 2022

Hello. Yes: “When a principal is physically unable to sign or make a mark on a notarial document, a disinterested third party may sign the name of the principal if: “(A) The principal directs the disinterested third party to sign the name of the principal in the presence of two (2) disinterested witnesses; “(B) The disinterested third party signs the name of the principal in the presence of the notary public, the principal, and the disinterested witnesses; “(C) Each disinterested witness signs his or her own name beside the signature; “(D) The notary public writes below the signature: ‘Signature affixed by (name of third party) at the direction and in the presence of (name of principal unable to sign or make a mark) and also in the presence of (names of two witnesses)’; and “(E) The notary public notarizes the required notarial certificate” (ACA 21-14-107[5]).

Haley

16 Jul 2022

Can you clarify If Nevada allows proxy signatures and how to go about it?

National Notary Association

10 Aug 2022

Hello. In Nevada, “If a person is physically unable to sign a document that is presented to a notarial officer pursuant to this section, the person may direct a person other than the notarial officer to sign the person’s name on the document. The notarial officer shall insert ‘Signature affixed by (insert name of other person) at the direction of (insert name of person)’ or words of similar import” (NRS 240.1655.8). “Both the person who is physically unable to sign the document and the person directed to sign the person’s name on the document shall appear before the notarial officer at the time the document is signed” (NAC 240.340.1).

Ngoc

03 Oct 2022

I don’t see any guidelines in regards to signature by proxy for Mississippi, in this case what do I do?

National Notary Association

06 Oct 2022

Hello. In Mississippi, “If an individual is physically unable to sign a record, the individual may direct an individual other than the notarial officer to sign the individual’s name on the record. The notarial officer shall insert ‘Signature affixed by (name of other individual) at the direction of (name of individual)’ or words of similar import” (MCA 25-34-19).

Kama

03 Oct 2022

In NY and NJ, many folks I deal with have problems seeing and writing legibly. I have not had this exact issue bc I tell everyone to sign in their own penmanship, but if signature by proxy is the option, what do you suggest in NY and NJ?

National Notary Association

06 Oct 2022

Hello. New York does not provide guidelines for signatures by proxy. In New Jersey, “If an individual is physically unable to sign a record, the individual may direct an individual other than the notarial officer to sign the record with the individual’s name. The notarial officer shall insert ‘Signature affixed by (name of other individual) at the direction of (name of individual)’ or words of similar import” (NJSA 52:7-10.11). For purposes related to Title 46 “Property,” “[a] signature also includes any mark made on a document on behalf of a person, with that person’s authority and to effectuate that person’s intent” (NJSA 46:14-4.2).

Brittney Hernandez

03 Oct 2022

Does Tennessee have any wording on proxy signings ?

National Notary Association

06 Oct 2022

Hello. Tennessee does not provide guidelines for signature by proxy.

Lori B

03 Oct 2022

How does Notary by Proxy work for NYS where I am a Notary. Thank you

National Notary Association

06 Oct 2022

Hello. To the best of our knowledge, New York Notary law does not address signatures by proxy.

Eugenia Sadler

03 Oct 2022

What does NYS notary law say about proxy signatures?

National Notary Association

06 Oct 2022

Hello. To the best of our knowledge, New York Notary law does not address signatures by proxy.

Jacqueline

03 Oct 2022

Does West Virginia allow signature by proxy

National Notary Association

06 Oct 2022

Yes. In West Virginia, “If an individual is physically unable to sign a record, the individual may direct an individual other than the notarial officer to sign the individual’s name on the record. The notarial officer shall insert ‘Signature affixed by (name of other individual) at the direction of (name of individual)’ or words of similar import” (WVC 39-4-9).

LYDIA MOORE

03 Oct 2022

How does Nevada handle signature by proxy? I've checked their guidelines and was unable to find it.

National Notary Association

06 Oct 2022

In Nevada, “If a person is physically unable to sign a document that is presented to a notarial officer pursuant to this section, the person may direct a person other than the notarial officer to sign the person’s name on the document. The notarial officer shall insert ‘Signature affixed by (insert name of other person) at the direction of (insert name of person)’ or words of similar import” (NRS 240.1655.8). “Both the person who is physically unable to sign the document and the person directed to sign the person’s name on the document shall appear before the notarial officer at the time the document is signed” (NAC 240.340.1).

akmark5000@gmail.com

04 Oct 2022

I work in a library setting and see potential clients with injured arms or hands and cannot sign documents for notarization. Can anyone at NNA tell me if there is any similar law in New York State? It would be a big help!

National Notary Association

06 Oct 2022

Hello. We are not aware of any guidelines in New York Notary law for performing a signature by proxy.

Helen Petcov

04 Oct 2022

Thank you for all this information .

Angelique

06 Oct 2022

I am a Notary, NSA, and an LDA (Legal Doc. Prep. - Paralegal deg.) THIS IS A SHOUT OUT to the Q&A that I see this these answers from the NNA profession as conflicting. Need clarification please. Terrie Gillett 05 Jul 2018 Hi NNA, When someone asked me to help with a POA signing of a paraplegic 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. Joy Nettles16 Mar 2022 With the signature by proxy being allowed for power of attorney in CA, being that the thumbprint is required for the notary journal, does the proxy also leave the thumbprint for the principal? National Notary Association 22 Apr 2022 Signature by proxy is not an authorized Notary activity in the State of California. Please contact an attorney regarding document principals that are unable to sign a document. My comment: THIS IS A SHOUT OUT to the Q&A that I see this these answers from the NNA profession as conflicting. I believe the 05 Jul 2018 is a correct answer. Please advise to the correct answer for clarification to me why is 22 Apr 2022 question is not correct, when according to 05 Jul 2018 is saying PROXY IS ALLOWED in CA.

National Notary Association

10 Oct 2022

Hello. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We've revised the response to Joy Nettles' comment.

Isreal Young

14 Oct 2022

Does Arizona allow signature by proxy?

National Notary Association

21 Oct 2022

“If an individual is physically unable to sign a record, the individual may direct an individual other than the notarial officer to sign the individual’s name on the record. The notarial officer shall insert “signature affixed by (name of other individual) at the direction of (name of individual)” or words of similar import” (ARS 41-257).

Amy Starke

01 Nov 2022

Can an attorney act as a proxy for an incarcerated person (attorney is representing said inmate/ has contract) when a Notary is not allowed to see the inmate? State of Texas

National Notary Association

02 Nov 2022

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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