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Why Notaries Cannot Notarize Their Own Documents

by American Association of Notaries
It seems so simple. You're about to purchase some real property, and a number of the documents require notarization. You're a notary (and you obviously know who you are), so why not notarize your own document? There are two primary reasons why notaries public should never notarize their own document:

1. Notary laws do not allow it.

Notary laws in all states strictly prohibit notaries from notarizing their own documents or notarizing documents when the notary is named as a party to the underlying transaction, has a financial or beneficial interest in the transaction, or is a signatory to a document.

2. A notary public cannot be a disinterested party or an impartial witness when his or her own documents are involved.

Notaries public cannot legally notarize their own documents or take their own acknowledgment because they cannot be an impartial witness or a disinterested party to a transaction. This is because a notary serves as an independent third party to witness the signer sign the document freely and willingly, to verify the identity of the signer, and to administer an oath or take an acknowledgment from the signer. If a notary were to notarize his or her own document, all the required steps to take a signer's acknowledgment would be skipped and it would defeat the purpose of having a notary. More importantly, there would be a direct, real conflict of interest and the entire process could be compromised.

Exceptions

In states where a notary journal is required, notaries can, upon request, self-certify an entry from their notary journal as a true and unaltered copy. In states where certifying copies of nonrecordable documents is allowed, a notary can self-certify a copy of the original document presented by a customer. In both cases, the notary will complete a notarial certificate swearing that the copies are true, unaltered copies of the originals. The notary will then place his or her signature and notary seal on the document and then make an entry in the notary journal.

Always know your state laws and rules. If a notary performs a prohibited act, the notary may suffer the consequences of criminal and/or civil liability, including the revocation or suspension of his or her notary public commission.


Susan Jimenez is a Contributing Writer with the American Association of Notaries

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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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