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Sample state laws addressing professional conflict of interest

State Notary conflict of interest laws article

Updated 12-28-22. Some states directly address unusual professional conflict of interest situations for Notaries in their statutes. Here are a few notable examples. More information on conflict of interest laws in other states is available at the NNA’s State Law Summaries page.

CALIFORNIA

California law states that a Notary who has a direct financial or beneficial interest in a transaction may not perform any notarial act in connection with that transaction (GC 8224). The statute also states that a Notary has a direct financial or beneficial interest in a financial transaction if the Notary is named as a principal to the transaction, and with respect to real property, is named, individually, as a grantor, grantee, mortgagor, mortgagee, trustor, trustee, beneficiary, vendor, vendee, lessor, or lessee, to the transaction.

California law provides an exception to these provisions for Notaries who also act as agents, employees, insurers, attorneys, escrow officers and lenders on behalf of a person with a financial or beneficial interest in a document (GC 8224).

FLORIDA

Florida Notaries may not notarize a signature on a document if the notary public has a financial interest in or is a party to the underlying transaction. A Florida Notary Public may not notarize a signature on a document if the person whose signature is to be notarized is the spouse, son, daughter, mother, or father of the Notary (FS 117.107[11]). However, Florida Notaries are permitted to officiate a marriage ceremony for persons related by blood or marriage to the Notary (Attorney General Opinion, 91-70 (1991)). 

Notaries may notarize signatures for their employer without being disqualified, provided that the Notary receives no benefits other than their salary and the statutory notarization fee (FS 117.107[12]).

Florida Notaries who are attorneys may notarize a signature of a client as long as the attorney has no interest in the document other than the fee paid by the client for legal services and the statutory Notary fee (FS 117.107[12]).

ILLINOIS

Illinois Notaries may not notarize any document in which the Notary is named as a party to the transaction (5 ILCS 312/6-104[b] and state Notary Public Handbook). However, Notaries are permitted to notarize the signatures of their spouses, children or other relatives (Notary Public Handbook). 

KANSAS

Kansas Notaries may not notarize if the Notary is a part to the record being notarized or has a direct financial or beneficial interest in the record (KSA 53-5a25[b]). Notaries are also prohibited from notarizing a record if the Notary's spouse is a party to the record or has a direct financial or beneficial interest in the record (KSA 53-5a25[b]).

A Kansas Notary is not considered to have a direct financial or beneficial interest in a transaction when the notarial officer acts in the capacity of an agent, employee, insurer, attorney, escrow agent or lender for a person having a direct financial or beneficial interest in the transaction (KSA 53-5a25[d]).

MAINE

According to the Maine Notary Public Handbook and Resource Guide, A Notary must not act in any official capacity if there is any interest which may affect the Notary’s impartiality. A Notary Public is a ‘party to the instrument’ in any transaction if the completion of the transaction will directly benefit the Notary Public, whether financially or in any other way.

Maine Notaries are prohibited from notarizing if the signer is the Notary's spouse, parent, sibling, child, spouse’s parent, spouse’s sibling, spouse’s child or child’s spouse. However Maine Notaries may perform a marriage ceremony for the Notary's parent, sibling, child, spouse’s parent, spouse’s sibling or spouse’s child” (4 MRSA 954-A; see also Notary Public Handbook and Resource Guide).

Maine has Notary conflict of interest restrictions when notarizing election nomination petitions. Notaries may not notarize or certify a petition if the Notary was employed or compensated by a petition organization for any purpose other than notarial acts; if the Notary is providing services, receiving compensation for non-notarial services or assisting a ballot question committee or when the Notary is serving as a treasurer, principal officer, primary fundraiser or primary decision maker to a ballot question committee (21-A MRSA 903-D.1). 

MINNESOTA

Minnesota Notaries may not notarize their own signatures on for an acknowledgment, signature witnessing or verification on oath or affirmation (MS 359.085, Subd. 7) or if the Notary will profit or benefit from the document (Minnesota Secretary of State's Notary Commission Guide).

A health care agent or alternative agent appointed in a health care power of attorney document may not notarize a principal’s signature on the health care directive that includes the health care power of attorney naming the agent or alternative agent (MS 145C.03 Subd. 3[a]).

An employee of a health care organization providing care to a patient may notarize the patient’s signature on a health care directive (MS 145C.03, Subd. 3[b]).

Minnesota Statutes 358.54, Subd. 2 states a Notary may not perform a notarial act with respect to a record to which the officer's spouse is a party, in which either of them has a direct interest.  

NEBRASKA

A Nebraska Notary Public is disqualified from performing a notarization if the Notary is a spouse, ancestor, descendant, or sibling of the principal, including in-law, step, or half relatives. In addition, a Notary is disqualified if the Notary “has a financial or beneficial interest in the transaction other than receipt of the ordinary notarial fee or is individually named as a party to the transaction” (RSN 64-105.01[1] and [2]).

State law permits exceptions to disqualifying interest rules in the following situations:

• An attorney; an employer or associate of the attorney; or a stockholder, officer or employee of a professional law corporation authorized to practice law and who is a Notary may notarize for the professional activities of that attorney or corporation (RSN 64-211[1]).

• A real estate broker or salesperson, or an employee or associate of the broker who is a Notary, may notarize for clients (RSN 64-211[2]).

• An employee, member, shareholder, appointive officer, elective officer, agent or director of an insurance company or credit union who is a Notary may notarize for the company, association or credit union (RSN 64-212 and 64-213).

• A stockholder, officer, employee, agent or director of a bank who is a Notary may notarize for the bank stockholders, officers, employees, agents and directors (RSN 64-214[1]).

• An employee, shareholder, director, agent or elected or appointed officer of a savings and loan association or industrial loan and investment company who is a Notary may notarize for the association’s employees, shareholders, directors, agents, or elected or appointed officers (RSN 64-215).

NEW MEXICO

New Mexico Notaries may not notarize if the Notary is a party to or has a direct financial or beneficial interest in the record, or if the Notary's spouse or domestic partner is a party to or has a direct financial or beneficial interest in the record (NMSA 14-14A-3.B).

OHIO

Ohio Notaries may not notarize a document they have signed or notarize a document in which they have a conflict of interest. “Conflict of interest” means having a direct financial or other interest in the document, or being named, individually, or as a grantor, grantee, mortgagor, mortgagee, trustor, trustee, beneficiary, vendor, lessor, or lessee, or as a party in some other capacity to the transaction (ORC 147.141[A] and [C]).

Ohio law does not expressly prohibit a Notary from notarizing for a spouse or family member, however, Ohio Revised Code 147.141 states a Notary may not perform a notarial act if the Notary has a conflict of interest with regard to the transaction. A conflict of interest means the Notary has a direct financial or other interest in the transaction or the Notary is named as a party in some capacity to the transaction. (Frequently Asked Questions, Ohio Secretary of State's website). 

PENNSYLVANIA

Pennsylvania Notaries may not perform a notarial act for a document in which the Notary or the Notary’s spouse has a direct or pecuniary interest (57 Pa.C.S. 304[a][1]).

Notaries may not take an acknowledgment on a power of attorney if the Notary is named as an agent in the power of attorney document or serves as a witness to the signing of the document. (20 Pa.C.S. 5601[b][3]).

According to 57 Pa.C.S. 305(a)(2), a Notary does not have a direct or pecuniary interest in the following circumstances:

  1. When the Notary is an officer, director or employee of a company that is a party to a notarized transaction and notarizes for a transaction involving the company, unless the Notary personally benefits from the transaction.
  2. When the Notary receives a fee a fee that is not contingent on the completion of the notarized transaction.
  3. When the Notary is a shareholder in a publicly traded company and notarizes when the company is named as a party to the notarized transaction.

TEXAS

The Texas Secretary of State's website advises Notaries not to notarize if the Notary is a party to a document or would benefit in some way from the transaction. The Texas Administrative Code, however, states it is “cause” for the Secretary of State to reject a commission application, revoke the commission of a Notary or take other disciplinary action against a Notary when the Notary notarizes their own signature (1 TAC 87.31[26). However, the state does not have a specific prohibition against notarizing for relatives.  

A Notary is not disqualified from performing a notarization if the Notary is an employee of a corporation and takes an acknowledgment or proof of a written document in which the employee's corporation has an interest. Similarly, a Notary is not disqualified from notarizing corporate documents unless the corporation has 1,000 or fewer shareholders and the Notary owns more than one-tenth of one percent of the corporation's issued and outstanding stock (Civil Practices and Remedies Code 121.002). Texas Notaries are not disqualified from notarizing solely on the basis of the Notary owning stock in certain trust institutions that are an interested party in the transaction (Texas Finance Code 199.002).

David Thun is the Assistant Managing Editor at the National Notary Association.

 

 

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22 Comments

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Sabrina Maynard

03 Feb 2020

So does this mean I can notarize a client at my job if I have no financial interest? For instance, a person works for a government agency and sometimes works at the jail... They need to notarize a document for a client at the jail, this is fine?

National Notary Association

06 Feb 2020

Hi Sabrina. Can you please tell us what state you are commissioned in?

Michael

10 Feb 2020

I work for a mortgage company and am also an independent notary. Can I notarize closing documents for my mortgage company’s borrowers? I’m in California.

National Notary Association

12 Feb 2020

Yes, you may notarize the borrower’s signature for your mortgage company, as long as you do not have a direct financial or beneficial interest in the transaction (California, Government Code, Section 8224).

AW

06 Sep 2020

Can an ACTIVE real estate agent be a loan signing agent in Washington State? I want to know whether I have to become inactive before I can get started as a loan signing agent.

National Notary Association

08 Sep 2020

Hello. Currently, there are no statutes, regulations or rules expressly governing, prohibiting or restricting the operation of Notary Signing Agents within the state of Washington.However, please note the following information regarding disqualifying interest for Washington Notaries: “(a) A notarial officer may not perform a notarial act with respect to a record to which the officer or the officer’s spouse or domestic partner is a party, or in which any of the above have a direct beneficial interest. “(b) A notarial officer may not notarize the notarial officer’s own signature. “(c) A notarial act performed in violation of this subsection (2) is voidable” (RCW 42.45.020[2]).

Tom Thompson

18 Jan 2021

Pennsylvania. Am I able to Notarize a POA for my wife to be the Executor of Her Sisters Will?

National Notary Association

21 Jan 2021

Hello. No, “A notarial officer may not perform a notarial act with respect to a record in which the notarial officer or the notarial officer’s spouse has a direct or pecuniary interest” (57 Pa.C.S. 304[a][1]).

Tammie L Burnes

28 Jan 2021

I am a notary in Arizona. I am also a licensed Real Estate Broker. I work for another broker as a broker associate. I was told by my broker that I cannot notarize any document that has to do with real estate. My understanding is that I cannot notarize any document in a transaction that I have an interest in. I would not notarize for a client or a transaction for which I am involved. May I work as a notary signing agent ?

National Notary Association

29 Jan 2021

Hello. Arizona has the following rules regarding disqualifying interest for Notaries: “Subject to section 41-320 [see “Exceptions,” below], a notary public shall not perform a notarization on a document if the notary is an officer of any named party, if the notary is a party to the document or if the notary will receive any direct material benefit from the transaction that is evidenced by the notarized document that exceeds in value the fees prescribed pursuant to section 41-316” (ARS 41-328.C). “A notary public is an impartial witness and shall not notarize the notary’s own signature or the signatures of any person who is related to the notary by marriage or adoption” (ARS 41-328.B). Stockholders, directors, officers or employees of a corporation may notarize a document affecting the corporation, unless the Notary is, individually or as a corporate representative, a party to the document (ARS 41-320). Officers, directors and members of cooperatives may take acknowledgment of documents involving the cooperative (ARS 10-2082).

Michael William Hampton

10 Jan 2022

What are the conflict of interest laws for Georgia?

National Notary Association

10 Jan 2022

“No notary shall be obligated to perform a notarial act if he feels such act is … [i]n situations which impugn and compromise the notary’s impartiality …” (OCGA 45-17-8[b]).

Eddy Espina

10 Jan 2022

No comment

Melanie Garcia

10 Jan 2022

We recently lost family members to covid, and now my ex-husband tested positive. He's preparing a will just in case and wants it notarized. Can I notarize my ex-husband's signature on his will or living trust if he is leaving everything to our son. I have no direct financial or beneficial interest, nor am I named as a principal in the transaction. I am a California notary.

National Notary Association

12 Jan 2022

Hello. GC 8224 states: ““A notary public who has a direct financial or beneficial interest in a transaction shall not perform any notarial act in connection with such transaction. For purposes of this section, a notary public has a direct financial or beneficial interest in a transaction if the notary public: “(a) With respect to a financial transaction, is named, individually, as a principal to the transaction. “(b) With respect to real property, is named, individually, as a grantor, grantee, mortgagor, mortgagee, trustor, trustee, beneficiary, vendor, vendee, lessor, or lessee, to the transaction” (GC 8224). If there is any concern that a document might be challenged or invalidated due to your possible connection with a signer or signers, the safest course is always to have a different, unrelated Notary perform the notarization instead.

Christy Hayes

12 Jan 2022

If it feels weird to be the Notary for any document then you may want to rethink doing it. My TOP three red flags are these regardless of what State I was/am a Notary in: Notaries can not Notarize their own signatures. Notaries can not financially benefit from the document they are Notarizing. Is the document legal for me to Notarize in the state I hold my commission in?

Jessica Carpenter

06 Dec 2022

I am a mortgage professional in Florida who works for a lender. Am I able to act as a signing agent in my own capacity if my employer is the named lender on the transaction? I am starting a notary business, and need to know if I have a potential conflict of interest. I live in Florida.

National Notary Association

13 Dec 2022

Hello. In Florida, “A notary public may not notarize a signature on a document if the notary public has a financial interest in or is a party to the underlying transaction; however, a notary public who is an employee may notarize a signature for his or her employer, and this employment does not constitute a financial interest in the transaction nor make the notary a party to the transaction under this subsection as long as he or she does not receive a benefit other than his or her salary and the fee for services as a notary public authorized by law” (FS 117.107[12]).

Jozelyn Ramirez

09 Jan 2023

Texas. not legally married. Spouse has bail bond business, but we live off his retirement only. Can I still notarize his bail bonds and surrenders as it is only for his company and I don't get paid for it or get any benefit from it.

National Notary Association

10 Jan 2023

Hello. While there is not a specific prohibition in Texas against notarizing for a spouse, the TX Secretary of State's website says, “Notarizations should not be performed by a notary public who is a party to the instrument or financially or beneficially interested in the transaction. The facts in each situation will determine whether the notary’s action was proper”. In situations where it's not clear if you have an interest, the safest course is to decline and have a different, uninvolved Notary perform the notarization.

Rio

09 Jan 2023

I am a notary in Texas. I'm also a real estate agent and have a real estate team with my husband. Can I notarize a T-47 form (It's a notarized document that tells the buyer what the seller knows about the home's boundaries) for my husband's listings?

National Notary Association

10 Jan 2023

Hello. While there is not a specific prohibition in Texas against notarizing for a spouse, the TX Secretary of State's website says, “Notarizations should not be performed by a notary public who is a party to the instrument or financially or beneficially interested in the transaction. The facts in each situation will determine whether the notary’s action was proper”. In situations where it's not clear if you have an interest, the safest course is to decline and have a different, uninvolved Notary perform the notarization.

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