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Question & Answer Center

Here are some questions that are frequently asked by notaries public. For your convenience, we divided the FAQs into several categories. If an answer to your question is not listed below, please email us at members@usnotaries.com. Our members-only Help Center will research your question and respond within two business days.

Conflict of Interest:: Notarizing for Spouse, Family Members, and Friends

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  As a notary public, can I notarize documents for family members and close friends? For which family members am I strictly prohibited from performing notarial acts?
In many states, notaries public are prohibited from notarizing the signature of immediate family such as a spouse, parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, stepbrothers, stepsisters, stepparents, mother-in-laws, and father-in-laws. When it comes to family members, your spouse, and close friends, the better practice is to have another notary public notarize their documents.
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  Can I notarize company documents signed by our President, who is my father? I am Secretary/Treasurer of the corporation, and I am not a stockholder in the company.
Find a notary public that is a completely disinterested third party to notarize the documents for the family business. The rule of thumb is that a notary public who is a party to a document or who might receive a direct or indirect benefit from the transaction cannot perform the notarial act.
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  Can my aunt notarize my oath?
Notaries public in most states are not prohibited from notarizing the signatures of the not so “immediate” family members such as aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins on documents. However, the better practice is to get a disinterested third party to notarize your documents.
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  Can I notarize documents for my not–so-immediate family members, such as my first cousin?
In most states, notaries public generally are not prohibited from notarizing the signatures of not-so-immediate family members such as aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins.
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  My husband’s mother passed away and left them a small lake lot. Each family member needs his or her signature notarized. Can I be the notary for them?
No. If a notary public is a party to a transaction, or has a direct or indirect financial (or other beneficial) interest in the transaction, no matter how small, the notary must decline the notarization. In some states, a spouse has a vested interest in community property accumulated during the term of the marriage. To avoid the appearance of bias and preserve the integrity of the notarization, have a totally disinterested third party notarize the document.
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  My friend asked me to notarize his document, which states that I am his beneficiary. Can I notarize my friend’s document?
No. If a notary public is a party to a transaction, or has a direct or indirect financial (or other beneficial) interest in the transaction, no matter how small, the notary must decline the notarization. To avoid the appearance of bias and preserve the integrity of the notarization, have a totally disinterested third party notarize the document.
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  Is it appropriate for me to notarize my husband's signature on a document that does not include my own name?
Notaries public who receive directly from a transaction connected with a notarial act any commission, fee, advantage, right, title, interest, cash, property, or other consideration exceeding in value the fees specified in state statute may not perform the notarial act. Please consult with an attorney to determine whether you have a beneficial interest in the transaction that may disqualify you from performing the notarial act.
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  Am I allowed to notarize documents for my husband, who is an attorney, when the documents have nothing to do with me?
The better practice is not to notarize for a spouse or family member in order to preserve the integrity of the notarization and to prevent a challenge to the notarization over issues of benefit.
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  Can I notarize an election proxy if my husband is on the ballot?
A notary public who has a direct or indirect financial (or other beneficial) interest in a document may not notarize such a document. The better practice is not to notarize for a spouse or family member in order to preserve the integrity of the notarization and to prevent a challenge to the notarization.
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  Can I notarize documents for my husband’s business?
Because of community property laws in some states, the better practice is not to notarize for a spouse in order to avoid a challenge to the notarization because of “financial and beneficial interest” issues.
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  My husband prepared a power of attorney. Can I notarize it?
Common practice is not to notarize for a spouse in order to preserve the integrity of the notarization. Another reason is to prevent a challenge to the notarization because of the “financial and beneficial interest” issues.
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  Can I notarize my husband’s will?
No. The common notarial practice is not to notarize for a spouse in order to preserve the integrity of the notarization. Another reason is to prevent a challenge to the notarization because of “financial and beneficial interest” issues.
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