I have been asked to notarize documents for a signer who is impaired due to a stroke. He is unable to sign his name, but is able to make an "X" on the signature line. How, exactly, do I perform this type of notarization? -C.P., Portales, NM
You must follow New Mexico Statutes Annotated Section 14-12A-7(C) which provides the correct procedure for signing with an “X,” or what is referred to as performing a “signature by mark.” Notably, the mark needn’t be an “X” in order to be accepted. Any mark is okay to use, including a scribble or a thumbprint. Specific laws and procedures pertaining to this type of notarization may differ slightly from state to state, so below we have provided specific information from the New Mexico Notary Law Primer. (Notaries located elsewhere can get more information in their own State Notary Law Primer.)
Signature by Mark
Mark Serves as Signature. A person who cannot sign his or her name because of illiteracy or a physical disability may instead use a mark — an “X” for example — as a legal signature, as long as there are two impartial witnesses to the making of the mark (NMSA 14-12A-7[C]).
Witnesses. In order for a mark to be acknowledged or sworn to before a Notary, two impartial witnesses in addition to the Notary must view the affixing of the mark. Both witnesses must sign the document (e.g., “John Q. Smith, Witness”) and the Notary’s journal. The Notary must write below the mark: “Mark affixed by (name of signer) in presence of (names of witnesses) and undersigned Notary Public pursuant to Subsection C of Section 7 of the Notary Public Act” (NMSA 14-12A-7[C]).
Signature by Mark Certificate. A mark is generally considered a signature under law, as long as it is properly witnessed. No special notarial certificate is required for persons signing by mark; the Notary uses a standard acknowledgment or jurat certificate (NMSA 14-12A-7[C]).
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