Can a Notary Notarize a Handwritten Document?

Many notaries ask whether it is acceptable to notarize a document that is handwritten by the client. In general, it is not up to the notary to decide whether a document presented for notarization is valid. Notarization does not make an illegal document legal and does not make an invalid document valid.

In most states, the fact that a document is handwritten does not preclude it from being notarized. However, the document must have an appropriate notarial certificate. If there is not already a certificate written on the document, the notary must add it. Keep in mind, however, that most states do not allow the notary to determine which type of notarization is needed. Therefore, the client must instruct the notary whether an acknowledgment or oath is to be taken.

That being said, notaries should be cautious with regard to handwritten wills. In some cases, notarization of a handwritten will can actually invalidate the will. You may want to tell your client to consult with an attorney with regard to wills or powers of attorney.

As always, consult your state's laws to obtain the most accurate information regarding notary rules in your state.

-- Robert T. Koehler, Florida Notary Educator, is a Contributing Writer with the American Association of Notaries

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