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 and ideas for managing their notary businesses, enhancing their notary educations, and securing their notary supplies but makes no claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained . 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 federal laws and statutes and the laws and statutes of each state, we have gathered the information from a variety of sources. We do not warrant the information gathered from those sources. It is your responsibility to know the appropriate laws governing your state. Notaries are advised to seek the advice of an attorney in their state if they have legal questions about how to notarize.

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