Notary Bulletin

Hotline Tip: Can I Refuse This Notarization?

I received a notarization request from a man whose mother is in a senior care facility. Her communication is limited, and she can only sign by mark. He has no power of attorney for her care, but he does claim to have two people willing to complete the sign by mark requirements.

I feel uncomfortable with the situation, as I’m not certain he’s her son, and there seems to be disagreement over whether or not she’s capable of making decisions. Privacy laws forbid me to see her medical reports, and I’m not sure how to determine her lucidity or willingness. Am I authorized to refuse this notarization? – D.M., Sedona, AZ

The Arizona Secretary of State’s Notary Public Reference Manual states that a Notary has the right to refuse the notarization if he or she senses that the signer does not comprehend the transaction or is not willing to sign (page 18). As a Notary Public, you are the one tasked with determining your signer’s willingness and awareness. The best way to determine if you should notarize for this person is to have a conversation with her. Speak to her in private to assure she is not under duress. If she is able to explain what kind of a document she would be signing, then you can notarize for her. If she is unable to have a simple conversation illustrating her competency and understanding of the notarization, then you should refuse to perform the notarization.

Hotline answers are based on the laws in the state where the question originated and may not reflect the laws of other states. If in doubt, always refer to your own state statutes. — The Editors

Confronted with a tricky notarization? Unsure how to proceed? NNA members have unlimited access to our expertly trained NNA Hotline counselors to help you with all of your notarial questions. Call (888) 876-0827, Monday through Friday, 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST; Saturday, 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST

Additional Resources:
Need A Quick Answer? Contact the NNA Hotline
Recommended Best Practices From The National Notary Association

Related Articles:
Hotline Tip: Can I Notarize For A Signer Suffering From Dementia?
Hotline Tip: How Do I Perform A Signature By Mark?
When Saying No Is Not Acceptable

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Quiz: The Many Types Of Notarial Acts

Notaries perform many different duties for the public — and it’s easy to lose track of the different acts and what states they’re authorized in. Test your familiarity with common — and uncommon — notarial acts.

(A link to the correct answers is provided at the end of the quiz.)

Confronted with a tricky notarization? Unsure how to proceed? NNA members have unlimited access to our expertly trained Hotline counselors to help you with all of your notarial questions.

(888) 876-0827

Monday through Friday:
5 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST

Saturdays: 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST

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