Can you notarize for family members?

PandaDoc Notary knowledge center

As with most aspects of notary law, the legality and requirements for notarizing a document for family members depends on the state you are in. While some states explicitly limit notarization for family members on some level, many other states do not. 

Even in states where the practice is not prohibited, however, the potential for a conflict of interest means that it is often highly discouraged.

This is because there usually is a high likelihood that the notary will stand to benefit from, or be affected by, a family member’s notarization in some way—even if it’s indirectly. Documents related to inheritance, wills, and property deeds are all great examples of notarizations that could pose a significant conflict of interest when it comes to family members.

Even if the notary is not directly tied to the document being notarized, their connection to the signer could cause the impartiality of the notarization to be questioned and potentially invalidated. 

In states that do allow notaries to provide services for family members, Remote Online Notarization (RON) has made it much more easy and accessible to notarize your documents without the hassle of having to schedule a time and place to meet up with a traditional, in-person notary.

Rules of notarizing for family members

If you are ever asked to notarize a document for a family member, you should first carefully review your state’s laws to be sure you are in accordance with them. 

In states that do prohibit notarizing for family members, the degree to which it is restricted can vary. Some states prohibit providing notarization services to most or all family members. 

Others allow the practice, but limit what types of documents can be notarized, or for which family members it can be done. We will take a closer look at this below.

A simple rule of thumb that many notaries advise when it comes to notarizing for family is that if you stand to benefit from the transaction you are notarizing in any way, shape, or form- don’t do it. 

This will ensure that you avoid any potential legal and ethical ramifications down the road.

Rules for Remote Online Notarization (RON) for family members

When providing Remote Online Notarization (RON) for a family member, the notary must follow all of the same rules and requirements that they would for anyone else. Just because the signer is someone close to you doesn’t mean you can rush through the process without checking off all of the boxes along the way.

Using traditional notarization methods, notarizing a document for a family member would require you to coordinate a time and place to meet face-to-face in order to complete the notarization. Now, thanks to RON, a notary can virtually witness a signing online from wherever they happen to be located.

At the time of a signing, the signers and notary are required to appear on screen together via a two-way audio-visual internet connection. The document will be displayed for everyone to review, and the signers must then apply an electronically-created signature. 

Finally, the notary will review the document and apply their electronic signature and seal to ensure the notarization is valid and secure. 

What states do not allow you to notarize for family members

While many states do not explicitly prohibit notarizing documents for family members, there are a few that do impose limitations on the practice. Here are the states that limit family notarization on some level.

StateNotary Regulations
AlabamaAllows notarization for relatives, but cautions notaries against it.
CaliforniaAllows notarization for relatives, but cautions notaries against it. Prohibits notaries from notarizing any document in which they have a direct financial or otherwise beneficial interest. 
FloridaProhibits notarization for a notary’s parents, spouse, or child.
MassachusettsProhibits notarization from the following types of relatives: Spouse, children, parents, domestic partners, guardians, and half- or step-siblings.
MontanaAllows notarization for relatives, but cautions notaries against it. Prohibits notaries from notarizing documents they stand to benefit from. 
North DakotaProhibits notarization for a spouse only.
OregonProhibits notarization for a spouse only
PennsylvaniaNotaries may not notarize a document if their spouse has any financial or direct interest in the document. 
West VirginiaProhibits notarization for a spouse only. Cautions notaries against notarizing for other family members.

How to notarize for family members with PandaDoc Notary

Should you notarize documents for family members? In most cases the answer is that you should probably avoid it because it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

However, if you should ever find yourself needing to provide notarization services for a family member, PandaDoc Notary provides an easy-to-use and secure Remote Online Notarization platform that can help you begin notarizing documents online today.

To learn more about how PandaDoc Notary can help you, request a free demo.

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