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October 22, 2011

Can a notary be a witness?

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Q&A for notary witness questions

Many people come to our blog to learn more about witness rules and credible witness requirements in various states.   We can not speak for all 50 states, but we will try to provide some good leads that can help you get your questions answered.
This blog entry will serve as a quick Q&A for some of the more common nationwide and state-specific notary witness questions.

 
How many credible witnesses are necessary?
Roughly 90% of states allow credible witnesses.  Please read:  http://www.123notary.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=4047.  This forum post to learn the credible witness requirements for your state.  In California and Florida, if the notary knows the witness, then only one is necessary.  However if the notary does not know the credible identifying witness, then two would be necessary. In either case, the credible witness must provide identification, and swear under oath to the identify of the signer. In many cases, the credible identifying witness only knows the signer by some informal name and knows them as a neighbor or co-worker on a very informal basis.

Can a notary act as a witness?  Can a notary be a witness?
Unless your state law indicates otherwise, then yes, a notary can act as a witness. Please keep in mind that certain notary acts require the notary to witness the signature of the signer (jurats), while other notary acts do not (such as acknowledgements).  A notary can act as a witness for a signature that they notarized, or for a signature that they did not notarize. It is an official notary act to be a witness in Delaware and Washington State as well.  It is common for people to ask a notary to witness signatures, since notaries are trusted state officials who would be a good impartial and responsible witness.
 
How to notarize a document when you have credible witnesses?
The credible witness(es) must sign the notary journal (rules vary state by state), and must produce identification as well.  The credible identifying witnesses must swear under oath as to the identity of the document signer.The credible witnesses do not actually sign any documents, they just sign the journal and help to identify the signers.

 Can a notary notarize with no ID and 2 credible witnesses?
Yes, if the notarization takes place in California, Missouri, Florida, Georgia, or Tennessee.
 
Nevada credible witnesses – is there a special form?
Nevada requires a special acknowledgment form for credible witnesses.
 
Can a notary be a witness to a Will?  Can a notary witness a Will?
Yes, a notary can be a witness to a will.  Some states allow witnessing as an official notary act as well. If it is not an official act, then the notary can charge any fee they like to serve as a witness.  Please keep in mind that notaries are discouraged from notarizing signatures on Wills without written instructions from an attorney.
 
Can a notary sign as a witness in Maryland? Can a notary be a witness in Maryland?
A notary can sign as a witness in Maryland, but it is not an official notary act in that state. 
 
Can a notary sign as a witness in Utah? Can a notary be a witness in Utah?
Yes, a notary can be a witness in Utah.
 
Can a notary be a witness in Texas?
Yes, a notary can be a witness in Texas.
 
Can a notary be a witness in New Jersey?
Yes, a notary can be a witness in New Jersey.
 
Can a notary be a witness in Pennsylvania?
Yes, a notary can be a witness in Pennsylvania, although it is not an official notary act.
 
What are credible witness statutes?
Credible witness statutes and rules vary from state to state. We have a forum post that covers many states rules about how many credible witnesses you need.
 
Doesn’t a notary have to witness you signing in person?
This depends on the type of notary act.  For Jurats — yes… for Acknowledgments — no.  In either case, the signer must sign the notary journal or notary record book if that is required in your state.
 
If you live on the border of 2 states, are you permitted to witness signings in both states?
Since witnessing is not an official notary act except in Delaware and in New Hampshire (as far as we know), a notary can be a witness anywhere, in any state or country.
 
Can a notary charge for a witness signature?  Can a notary charge to be a witness?
Since this activity is not an official notary act except in Delaware, the notary can charge whatever the client will agree to pay.  No state government regulates how much a witness can charge.

Can I be a notary and a witness?
Sure!
 
What is a notary credible witness acknowledgment?
To the best of our knowledge, only Nevada requires a special acknolwedgment for credible witnesses.  However, credible witnesses may be used in most states to identify a signer for an acknolwedged signature.
 
What is a subscribing witness?
A subscribing witness could be someone who witnesses a principal sign in a proof of execution — OR, it could be a person who witnesses an elderly person do a signature by X signing.

You might also like:

Power of Attorney information

Can a notary witness a will or notarize one?

California Credible Witness Requirements

Oath of two credible witnesses

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