Can I notarize a document dated in the future?

Typically, when a customer requests a notary public to notarize a document, the document has not yet been signed. Thus, when a notarization occurs, the signer executes the document in the notary's presence, and the notary completes a notarial certificate. Almost always, the date of the signature is the same as the date of the notarization.

However, there are exceptions. First, an acknowledgment does not require that the document be signed in the notary's presence. On the contrary, the document could have been signed years earlier - and bear an earlier date - but the principal signer must still personally appear before the notary to acknowledge his or her signature. The notarial certificate is then completed with the date the signer appeared - not the date the document was signed. Of course, documents that require an oath to be administered must always be signed in the presence of the notary.

That said, what does a notary do when a document has been dated for the future? First, it is necessary to distinguish between the signature date and the document date. The content of a document is generally not the notary's concern. Therefore, the fact that a document may contain an "effective date" or an "entered-into date" in the future does not necessarily preclude the document from being notarized. Consequently, this date is usually irrelevant as it pertains to the notary.

However, the date of the signature (i.e., the date on which the signer actually set the pen to paper) cannot be a date in the future. The reason is that it's impossible to notarize a signature on January 1 if the signature wasn't made until January 2. The discrepancy between the signature date and notarization date could cause the document to be rejected.

When presented with a post-dated document, carefully review the area around the principal signature to ensure that the signature date does not conflict with the date of the notarization. Sometimes this date may be included in the execution clause (i.e., "in witness whereof...") rather than immediately beside the signature. Always consult state law and use your best judgment when exercising your duties as a notary public.

By Robert T. Koehler, a Contributing Writer with the American Association of Notaries, Inc.

Legal Disclaimer: The American Association of Notaries seeks to provide timely articles for notaries to assist them with information for managing their notary businesses, enhancing their notary education, and securing their notary stamp and notary supplies. Every effort is made to provide accurate and complete information in the American Association of Notaries newsletters. However, we make no warrant, expressed or implied, and we do not represent, undertake, or guarantee that the information in the newsletter is correct, accurate, complete, or non-misleading. Information in this article is not intended as legal advice. We are not attorneys. We do not pretend to be attorneys. Though we will sometimes provide information regarding notaries' best practices, federal laws and statutes, and the laws and statutes of each state, we have gathered this information from a variety of sources and do not warrant its accuracy. In no event shall the American Association of Notaries, its employees, or contractors be liable to you for any claims, penalties, loss, damage, or expenses, howsoever arising, including, and without limitation, direct or indirect loss or consequential loss out of or in connection with the use of the information contained in the American Association of Notaries newsletters. It is your responsibility to know the appropriate notary laws governing your state. Notaries are advised to seek the advice of their states' notary authorities or attorneys in their state if they have legal questions. If a section of this disclaimer is determined by any court or other competent authority to be unlawful and/or unenforceable, the other sections of this disclaimer continue in effect.

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