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Illiterate Signers


Is the marking of an “X” by a signer who cannot read and write an acceptable signature?

In most states’ statutes, a notary public may notarize the marking of an “X” of an individual who cannot sign his full name, either due to a physical disability or illiteracy. In many states, there are statutory notarial procedures for notarizing the marking of an “X” by an individual unable to sign. Courts have often held that “signature” or “signed” includes any symbol executed or adopted by a person with the present intention to authenticate a writing.

The signer, who is unable to read and write, wants me to notarize his signature on a document that he cannot read. Should I decline the notarization?

Yes. Encourage the signer to go to an attorney for legal advice regarding the nature and effect of the document being signed and notarized. Possibly, the document could also be notarized at the attorney’s office.