As a notary public, your duty is to serve the general public in an impartial manner by verifying identities and administering oaths. However, you may find yourself in situations where family members ask you to notarize documents for them. This can put you in an awkward position and lead to questions about your ability to remain unbiased.

While notarizing for family is not strictly prohibited, there are guidelines you must follow to avoid conflicts of interest and maintain your integrity as a notary.

Before notarizing for any relative, review your state’s rules and use your best judgment to determine if you can serve them impartially while upholding your notary oath. If there is any doubt, refer them to another notary to avoid potential issues. Your role as a notary is to inspire public trust, so avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

Rules for Notarizing Documents for Family Members

As a notary, you may be asked to notarize documents for close family members on occasion. However, there are rules and best practices you must follow to avoid conflicts of interest and ensure the integrity of the notarization process.

To start, most states prohibit a notary from notarizing documents for immediate family members, such as a spouse, child, parent, or sibling. Some states allow notarizing for extended family like aunts, uncles, nieces or nephews, but it is not recommended as it could be seen as a conflict of interest.

If notarizing for permitted extended family, you must still follow all standard notary procedures. Carefully screen the signer to verify their identity, assure they appear willing and able to sign, and confirm they understand the nature and consequences of the document. Do not make assumptions or take shortcuts just because you know the person.

You should also avoid any perception of coercion or improper influence. Explain that as a notary, you have an obligation to serve the general public in an unbiased manner. Make it clear that you cannot provide legal advice and that signing the document is their personal choice and responsibility.

To prevent future issues, it is best for notaries to avoid notarizing for any family members when possible. Politely refer them to another notary to prevent perceived conflicts of interest and maintain integrity. If notarization for a family member is truly unavoidable, be sure to document the situation in your notary journal in case questions arise later.

Following these best practices will help ensure that any notarizations you perform for family members are done properly and avoid problems down the road. Your role as an impartial notary public depends on it.

How to Notarize for Family in Your State

As a notary, you may be asked to notarize documents for family members. However, there are important rules to follow to avoid conflicts of interest.

In many states, notaries are prohibited from notarizing for immediate family members, such as a spouse, child, parent, or sibling. Some states allow notarizing for extended family like aunts, uncles, cousins, and in-laws, but it is best to check with your state’s notary laws to confirm what is permitted.

If notarizing for permitted family is allowed in your state, you must exercise extra caution. You should:

  1. Ensure the signer appears fully aware of the document’s contents and significance. Ask open-ended questions about the document to confirm their understanding.
  2. Carefully screen the signer for any signs of duress or coercion which could invalidate the notarization. Be on alert for subtle hints that they may feel obligated to sign.
  3. Keep detailed records of the notarization in your journal to demonstrate the signer appeared willingly and competent. Note the type of ID used and any questions asked.
  4. Consider having an impartial witness present during the notarization. Their presence can help avoid any appearance of impropriety.

Some states go as far as to recommend against notarizing for your family even if its allowed in the state. The following was posted on the Texas Secretary of State – Notary Education YouTube channel.

(See below for the full Notary Law and Ethics Demonstration from Michael Closen

Notarizing for family should only be done when permitted and with the utmost care and ethics. Protect yourself and your commission by following all laws and procedures exactly. When in doubt, it is best to decline the notarization to avoid potential conflicts of interest or invalid notarizations. Your role as an impartial witness is too important.

Options for Online Notarization for Family

As a notary, you have options for providing online notarization services to family members while maintaining proper impartiality. Some options to consider:

Use an Online Notary Platform

Online notary platforms allow notaries to perform notarizations via live audio-video connection using a webcam. As the notary, you would verify the signer’s identity, witness them sign the document through the video feed, and notarize the document. Some platforms like Notarize and NotaryCam offer “remote ink notarization” where the signer prints, signs, and returns the document for you to notarize. These options allow you to notarize for family at a distance while following your state’s remote notarization laws.

Have Another Notary Perform the Notarization

If you feel you cannot maintain impartiality for a family member’s notarization, have another notary complete the notarization. Search online for local notaries, check with banks or shipping outlets like UPS, or see if another notary in your workplace would be willing to help. Provide the document, details about the notarization needed, and have your family member bring valid ID to the other notary. This ensures an impartial notarization by someone without a personal connection.

Refer the Signer to a Different Option

For some documents like wills, powers of attorney, or other estate planning papers, referring family to work with an estate planning attorney may be the most prudent option. Attorneys can advise on the specifics of the document and ensure it is legally valid and enforceable. They may have staff notaries or networks to notarize the final documents as well. Referring the signer to a professional in these complex matters avoids possible conflicts of interest and liability concerns.

In summary, by using online notarization options, referring signers to other notaries, or recommending they work with an attorney for certain documents, you can avoid notarizing for close family members yourself while still providing helpful recommendations and resources. Notarizing for impartiality and following proper procedure is key.

Familial Notarizations

You now have a clear understanding of the regulations surrounding notarizing documents for family members. While it can be tempting to make exceptions for loved ones, it is critical that you uphold your duty as an impartial witness. Your role as a notary public is to verify identities and ensure the integrity of signatures, regardless of your relationship to the signer.

If you fail to do so objectively and in accordance with your state’s laws, you risk legal and financial penalties as well as damage to your reputation and notary commission.

When family asks you to notarize, politely but firmly explain your professional responsibilities and suggest they find an unbiased notary to avoid any impropriety or unlawful behavior. Your obligation is to the law and serving the public trust.

Should notary publics notarize for family members?

A notary public is not permitted to notarize a signature on a document if the signatory is the notary’s spouse, son, daughter, mother, or father.

Even though some states permit notarization for family members, the practice is highly discouraged regardless due the potential for a conflict of interest.

Since there usually is a high likelihood that a notary will stand to benefit from, or otherwise be affected by, a family member’s notarization in some way (even indirectly), it is generally considered bad practice to notarize documents for family members.

Documents related to inheritance, wills, and property deeds are all great examples of notarizations that could pose a significant conflict of interest if they were to be notarized by a family memeber.

Even if the notary is not directly tied to the document being notarized, their connection to the signer could cause the impartiality of the notarization to be questioned and potentially invalidated.

Can I notarize My Own Documents

This one is a pretty straight forward no.  The purpose of notarization is to have a party that has the ability to remain impartial or disinterested in a transaction. Notarizing your own document completely defeats this purpose and it is not allowed in any state.

Notarization in the State of Texas

Although nothing is easier than having a family member conveniently notarize your documents or vice versa, it is important to remember that ease is not always the reason you should act on something, especially when it comes to using a notary commission to notarize for a family member.

Almost no matter the document, when a notary notarizes a specific document for a family member, there is a high likelihood or possibility that they could eventually stand to benefit from the notarized document financially in some way. This can obviously create a conflict of interest. This may mean the resulting document has an unethically validated signature that another unbiased notary should be present for.

Can you notarize for a family member in Texas?

Texas law does not restrict you from notarizing for your family. BUT as noted above, their official channels publicly discourage, it is worth noting that a Texas notary public should be an unbiased or impartial witness. This is why we recommend yu practice extreme caution if choosing to notarize for your family.  Many experts will recommend that you don’t notarize for your family members at all. The best and safest practice is to have another notary notarize their documents.

What documents can you notarize for family members in Texas?

As Texas does not prohibit you from notarizing for a family member, you can notarize various documents for your family members, including siblings or cousins.

The following are examples of documents that you can notarize for your family members in Texas:

  1. Birth certificate
  2. State-issued identification card or Military ID
  3. Marriage certificate
  4. US passport issued by the US Department of State

While it’s not forbidden in the state of Texas for your family members and relatives, you should never notarize a document if you stand to benefit from it—financially or otherwise. Your involvement in that document might discredit it in the future.

Even in the event the document does not mention you by name, you can still be found to be a beneficiary. In a community property state like Texas, any transaction involving your spouse may automatically relate to you as well.

Can you notarize for businesses in Texas?

Yes, you can definitely notarize for businesses in Texas. There are many statutes that permit these kinds of notarizations. For example, Section 121.002 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code allows employees of a corporation or business to take an acknowledgment of a document or written instrument in which the corporation or business has a relation

What documents can you notarize for a business in Texas?

Businesses will always need notary services. Even if not every important business document requires notarization some such as loan agreements, definitely will require notarization.

Examples of documents that you can notarize for a business in Texas are as follows:

  1. Articles of incorporation
  2. Vendor contracts
  3. Memorandum of understanding (MOU) documents
  4. Commercial leases
  5. General Acknowledgements
  6. Loan agreements
  7. Construction agreements
  8. Employment contracts

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Notarization in Florida

Can you notarize for a family member in Florida?

Florida prohibits public notaries from providing notarial services for immediate family members. This includes sons, daughters, sisters, and brothers. However, this means that you can still notarize a document for more extended family members, like your stepbrother, stepparents, and stepsister.

What documents can you notarize for family members in Florida?

In many cases, it is legally required to notarize documents in Florida that deal with sizable monetary or financial transactions or involve specific legal rights.

Examples of documents that you can notarize for your family members (excluding immediate family) in Florida are as follows:

  1. Intent to Purchase Real Estate
  2. Wills
  3. Quitclaim Deed
  4. Car ownership transfers

Can you notarize for a business in the state of Florida?

You are able to notarize for a business in Florida as long as the notarization meets certain conditions. Most business documents that require notarization can be split it into two major groups: financial and legal.

As a notary, there are strict rules, conditions, and guidelines you must follow regarding your commission . If a specific business document doesn’t meet those standards, it can’t be notarized. These prohibitions and conditions help protect the public as well as the notary.

These are a few reasons a business document, like a commercial lease, cannot be notarized:

  1. The business document has been dated later than the date of notarization. This is considered forgery and carries the risk of additional fines and even the loss of the notary’s valuable commission.
  2. If it is not possible to positively and properly identify the signer.
  3. The signer isn’t physically present.

What documents can you notarize for a business in Florida?

As a notary, you can notarize a signature on a business document if the situation meets the following conditions:

  1. The individual whose signature is being notarized is present before the notary public when their signature is notarized.
  2. The business document is completely filled out.

Examples of documents that you can notarize for a business in Florida are:

  1. Articles of incorporation
  2. Memorandum of understanding documents
  3. Vendor contracts
  4. Commercial leases
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Notarization in Virginia

Can you notarize for a family member as a notary in Virginia?

In Virginia, a notary is not allowed to notarize documents for direct family members including spouses, daughters or sons, or the parents of the notary public in most cases.

The only time a notary can notarize a signature for an immediate family member is if the document is a marriage certificate.

Like other states in the union, Virginia notaries can’t perform any notarial act that creates a conflict between their official duty and personal interest.

What documents can you notarize for family members in Virginia?

As a notary in Virginia,  you are not authorized to notarize birth certificates, death certificates, and marriage certificates for immediate family members.  Notaries in Virginia aren’t allowed to perform a marriage or any act that qualifies as the practice of law.

Can you notarize for a business in Virginia?

In 2012, Virginia became the first US state to authorize or allow its notaries to perform RON legislatively. You can notarize for a business online in Virginia, and online notarization is much faster and more secure compared to in-person notary services.

In Virginia and other states, many banks and financial institutions authorize their employees to notarize documents. However,  some employers and businesses want to limit the liability of employee notaries and might impose general guidelines.

What documents can you notarize for a business in Virginia?

Examples of documents that you can notarize for a business in Virginia include:

  1. Vendor contracts
  2. Articles of incorporation
  3. Memorandum of understanding (MOU) documents
  4. Loan agreements
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Notarization in Tennessee

Can you notarize for a family member in Tennessee?

In Tennessee, you cannot notarize your family member’s signature if you are a party to the transaction.

A notary also must not notarize their spouse’s signature. This is notaries are only allowed to execute notarizations “without favor or partiality.”

What documents can you notarize for family members in Tennessee?

Tennessee notaries public are not allowed to perform any notarial act with respect to any record, such as a will, in which the notarial officer or their spouse has a direct or financial interest.

Examples of documents that you can notarize for your extended family members in Tennessee might include include:

  1. Marriage certificates
  2. Birth certificates
  3. State-issued identification cards
Can you notarize for a business in Tennessee?

Yes, you able to notarize for a business in Tennessee. With an acknowledgment, you can attest that the signer understands the business document and that the signature is indeed the signer’s after you have properly verified their Identity. With an affirmation or oath, the notary certifies or attests that the signer, under penalty of perjury, assures that the document’s contents are accurate and true for that business..

What documents can you notarize for a business in Tennessee?

Examples of documents that you can notarize for a business in Florida include:

  1. Articles of incorporation
  2. Memorandum of understanding documents
  3. LLC Operating Agreement
  4. Non-Compete Agreement
  5. Commercial leases
  6. Bill of sale
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Whether you are setting up a business or company abroad, creating a business with your family or you need to send an attested degree certificate quickly to some other state, BlueNotary can get you sorted.