Notarizing Previously Signed Documents

There are times, as a notary, when you will be presented with a document for notarization that has been previously signed. This may occur simply because the signer thinks he is being thorough by filling in all the blanks and signing before he meets with you. At other times, a document may have been signed and submitted to the recipient before the signer was aware that notarization was required and now the document has been returned and the signer requires the services of a notary.

The first step is to check the notary certificate to determine what type of notarization is required. If the document contains an acknowledgment certificate, you, the notary, will follow the same basic procedure as with any other document that requires acknowledging. In every case where an acknowledgment is to be executed, you must determine that the name on the document, the face of the individual standing before you, and the signature of the signer match the name, face, and signature on the identifying document, i.e. the driver's license or passport. In the case where the signer has previously signed the document, you will still check to make sure the signature on the document and the signature on the photo ID is the same. You need not compel the signer to re-sign the document. Ask the signer, "Did you sign this document of your own free will and accord?" If the signer gives an affirmative answer, you will proceed with the notarization as usual, being careful to record all the information in your notary record book or journal.

If the document contains a jurat - the notary certificate at the bottom of an affidavit - then it will be necessary to ask the signer to re-sign the document. The execution of the affidavit requires the giving of an oath or affirmation. The signer must sign the document after he has given a confirmatory response to the question, "Do you solemnly swear (or affirm) under penalty of perjury that the documents' contents are true and correct to the best of your knowledge?" If the signer has previously signed the document, you should give him a brief explanation as to why he is being asked to re-sign the document. In both the case of the acknowledgment and the jurat, the notary must use the current date - the date of notarization - in the notary certificate, regardless of the date of the document or when it was previously signed.

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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