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Problems with the Document

Can I notarize an out-of-state document?

Yes. It may require the notary public to correct the venue of the notarial certificate so that it clearly indicates the state and county where the notarial act was performed.

The signer presented a Waiver of Citation document that he had already signed. How do I notarize this document?

A Waiver of Citation generally includes a jurat certificate, which requires the notary to administer an oath to the signer. The signer swears to the truthfulness of the statements contained in the document, and the notary must actually witness the signer sign the document. If the signer has already signed the document, the notary should instruct the signer to affix his signature again directly above where he has already signed the document.

I was asked to notarize a document that had a future date as the execution date of the document. Can I notarize a document with a future date?

No. The execution of a notarial certificate must always contain the actual date of the notarization. The notarial certificate must never be postdated or predated to accommodate the signer or anyone else. Such action violates state notary laws, and it may subject the notary public to civil and criminal liability and disciplinary action by the state’s commissioning authority.

Can a notary public refuse to notarize a document because the person’s last name on the document is different from the last name on the identification card?

In some states, notaries may not perform a notarial act when the document and government-issued identification card do not match. If your state notary law does not specifically prohibit notaries from performing such notarizations, the notary must instruct the signer to include on the signature line a connection between the two names such as “Jane Martin, formerly known as Jane Doe.” Should the signer refuse to make such notation on the signature line, the notary must decline the notarization.

If I am presented with a document that has been handwritten, am I allowed to notarize it, or does it need to be typed?

Most states do not prohibit notaries from notarizing a handwritten document. However, every document presented for notarization must include the following essentials: 1) the document must identify the principal signer; 2) the document must include statements; 3) the document must have a signature line for the document signer; and 4) the document must contain a notarial certificate for the performance of the notarial act.

Can a notary use a pencil to notarize a document?

A notary public must never complete a notarial certificate with a pencil because the certificate could be altered after the notarization. A notary public that is negligent in the performance of a notarial act may be subject to civil and criminal liability for such negligence.

The document the signer wanted me to notarize was a copy of a copy of a copy that I could not read. So I refused to notarize it. Did I do the right thing?

Yes. Although a notary public is not responsible for the content of the document, the notary must be able to gather enough information from the document to include a brief description of the document being notarized for his or her notary record book.

Can I notarize a document that was signed and then faxed?

No. The most important rule in the execution of proper notarial procedures is that the signer must personally appear before the notary public at the time of the performance of the notarial act. There are no exceptions to the “personal appearance” golden rule. The signer must be physically in the presence of the notary, face-to-face, in the same room at the time of the execution of the notarization. Furthermore, a notary cannot notarize a faxed signature.

Can I backdate the notarial certificate on a document that I notarize?

No. The notarial certificate must bear the actual date of the execution of the notarization.