Can a Notary act as a witness? Yes.
Can a notary be a witness? Yes.
However, there are many types if witnessing that a Notary could engage in.
1. Witnessing an Acknowledged signature
A notary could witness a signature as part of an Acknowledgment in certain states. Most states do not require the Notary to watch the signer sign for an Acknowledged signature, but six states do.
2. Witnessing as an official notary act
Witnessing is an official notarial act in a handful of states. Notaries can get paid a fixed maximum state mandated notary fee for witnessing a signature. Delaware Notary statutes allow this as an official act, other states do not.
3. Witnessing in their individual capacity
Witnessing a document signing as an unofficial act can be done by any person in sound mind who is eighteen years of age or older. However, many prefer to hire a Notary Public to do this in their capacity as an individual simply because people prefer to have a Notary deal with issues relating to signing documents. How much can a notary charge for being a witness? There is no set charge except perhaps in Delaware.
4. Witnessing a Will
Wills can be notarized, however, most Notaries are advised that it is not proper to notarize a will without written instructions from an Attorney. Living Wills are a different story as those function more similarly to a specialized medical power of attorney. Many people like to have a Notary be one of the two witnesses to a will signing. In Vermont I heard that they require three witnesses. For mafia signings regardless of what state it takes place in, they normally prefer — “no witnesses.”
5. Credible Witnesses / Credible Identifying Witnesses
A Notary cannot act as a credible witness if they are notarizing a document for someone. However, they can use the testimonies of one or two credible witnesses depending on the situation in most states. You can learn more about credible witnesses on our blog.
6. What is a subscribing witness?
Notaries typically use subscribing witnesses for Proof of Execution signings and Signature by X or Signature by Mark signings where the signer cannot sign their name. Subscribing means signing, so a subscribing witness is one who witnesses a person signing their name.
7. Which Notary act requires witnessing?
A Jurat requires the signer to sign in the physical presence of the Notary Public as well as swearing or affirming under Oath to the truthfulness of the content of the document in the presence of the Notary. The Notary Public should be watching when the signature is made.
8. Witnessing crimes
It is possible that a Notary might witness a crime during their work hours. It is possible they might observe someone being forced to sign under duress, or even someone being kidnapped. Notaries are often asked to go to jails to notarize criminals, but the criminal would not be in the act of a crime in jail — probably. Signers might ask the notary to falsify a date, and asking the notary to engage in fraud is a crime in itself in many states.
You might also like:
Credible Witnesses — the ins and outs
Subscribing witnesses explained
Witnessing the intake forms in Notary Heaven
Types of witnesses in the Notary profession