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Can A Notary Witness And Notarize, Too?

New Hotline Resized 3When a document requires two witnesses and notarization, can the Notary act as one of the witnesses as well as notarize? — D.M., Pennsylvania

It is not recommended and may even be improper. For example, if a Notary witnessed the signing of a last will and was asked to sign an affidavit to make the will “self-proving,” it would be highly improper for the Notary to notarize his or her signature as a witness on the self-proving affidavit. The NNA always recommends that in cases in which a document must be witnessed and notarized, the Notary serve as either a witness or Notary, but not both.

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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9 Comments

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chitravrajan2017@gmail.com

13 May 2019

Part of the learning

C Ortiz

13 May 2019

Can a notary prepare a will and notarize it as well but not serve as a witness?

National Notary Association

13 May 2019

Hello. Notaries are not authorized to prepare legal documents such as wills for customers. For more information, please see here: https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2015/07/notary-basics-avoiding-unauthorized-practice-of-law

CARMEN BIANO

14 May 2019

In California, I understood that a Notary can be a witness and perform the notary provided the signature of the witness is not required to be notarized.

LDavis

15 May 2019

Your answer to C Ortiz. I have a friend that asked me to assist in preparing his last will. I told my friend, I can help him prepare it, but he would have to find another notary to notarize his will. I live in Nevada. Is this illegal to do? I haven't done it yet, but if it's illegal as a notary, I will decline to assist.

National Notary Association

15 May 2019

Hello. Nonattorney Notaries may not prepare a legal document or give advice on how to fill out, draft or complete a legal document. Please see here for more information: https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2015/07/notary-basics-avoiding-unauthorized-practice-of-law

MisterJ

04 Jun 2019

NNA, you keep saying that non-attorney notaries absolutely cannot prepare wills. But what about all those paralegal offices that do "document preparation" including simple wills for clients, with no attorney involved in the process at all?

National Notary Association

04 Jun 2019

Hello. We can't speak for paralegals or other legal professionals. But that does not change the fact that nonattorney Notaries who provide unauthorized legal services--including preparing legal documents such as wills--can face severe civil and criminal penalties and potential liability for doing so. Many states require Notaries to post a written notice explaining they are not attorneys licensed to practice law, cannot offer legal advice or accept fees for legal services.

Ellen Welsh

08 Oct 2019

The deed for selling real property in Florida needs two witnesses and I have been instructed on numerous cases that I can act as one of the witnesses.

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