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Can a Florida Notary Notarize for Family Members?


The primary role of a Florida notary is to act as an unbiased and disinterested witness to the signing of important legal documents and to ensure that the signer’s identity has been verified and that the signer signed willingly and without any coercion.

Florida Notary as an Impartial Witness

Florida notaries are expected to act as impartial witnesses. They may not gain in any way when performing a notarial act, other than through the notarial fees allowed by Florida statute. Being an impartial witness means a Florida notary must be unbiased and unrelated to the document signer whose signature he or she is witnessing. 

Impartiality ensures the integrity of the notarized document and deters fraudulent transactions. A notary’s impartiality inspires trust in the public, and trust is the foundation of the notarial process. The notary must avoid even the slightest bias in order to protect the transaction.

As a trusted public official, a Florida notary public needs to be completely honest in his or her dealings at all times. There are no exceptions and no gray areas.

A Florida Notary Must Avoid Conflicts of Interest

There are certain circumstances and conditions when a Florida notary is bound by law to refuse notary services. The notary laws explicitly provide prohibitions if notarization presents a conflict of interest for the notary. Section 117.107(12) of the Florida Statutes provides that a Florida notary cannot perform a notarization when he or she has a financial interest in or is a party to the underlying transaction. Thus, if the notary is a party to or has a beneficial interest in the transaction, the notary is prohibited from performing the notarial act. In such a case, the notary would obviously not be impartial, and that would make the transaction unlawful or unenforceable.

What constitutes a financial interest? The notary statutes are silent in this regard. However, even though the statutes do not define “financial interest,” it is relatively easy to determine if the notary public is a party to or has a financial interest in the transaction. For instance, if a notary buys a home, the notary cannot notarize the deed of sale or related documents. Likewise, if a notary will receive a sales commission on a certain transaction, then the notary is prohibited from notarizing the signatures of those involved.

The law, however, does allow a Florida notary who is an employee to notarize the signature for his or her employer. Furthermore, an attorney is permitted to notarize his client's signature on a document that he has prepared as the attorney-of-record. These stated exemptions are allowed if the notary does not receive a benefit other than his or her salary and notarial fees. The notary should not be a party to or have an interest in the transaction, as that would violate the conflict-of-interest rule.

Avoid Notarizing for Family Members

Aside from the financial interest issue, a Florida notary is prohibited from notarizing the signature of a close family member. This is explicitly stated under Section 117.107(11) of the Florida statutes, which stipulates that a Florida notary public may not notarize a document if the person whose signature is to be notarized is the spouse, son, daughter, mother, or father of the notary public. Although the law explicitly excludes only those five family members, the American Association of Notaries (AAN) recommends that a notary refrain from performing notarial acts for any family member, including in-laws and other relatives.

It is often unclear to notaries public when they cannot notarize a document for a family member. However, it is advisable to refrain from performing notarial acts for family members even if the notary has no interest in the document being notarized, because a notary cannot act impartially toward a family member. It is difficult to serve as an impartial witness for a family member, and the notary, in some cases, might be acting under duress or in a manner that benefits his or her relative.

If a family member asks you to notarize a document, you should refuse and provide him or her with a list of reliable notaries who can render their services. It is best to distance yourself from any possibility of irregularity or conflict of interest, because a Florida notary public is expected to be impartial and trustworthy in his or her line of work at all times. Being an impartial and disinterested party should always be the main priority for a Florida notary so that the integrity of the notarized documents may be maintained.

Should you have any questions or require clarification, do not hesitate to contact AAN by calling (713)-644-2299 or visiting our website at www.floridanotaries.com.

The American Association of Notaries is approved by the Florida Department of State to process Florida notary applications and is a leading provider of Florida notary bonds, Florida notary E&O insurance policies, and Florida notary supplies.

Click here to learn how to become a notary in Florida.

Legal Disclaimer: The American Association of Notaries seeks to provide timely articles for notaries to assist them with information for managing their notary businesses, enhancing their notary education, and securing their notary stamp and notary supplies. Every effort is made to provide accurate and complete information in the American Association of Notaries newsletters. However, we make no warrant, expressed or implied, and we do not represent, undertake, or guarantee that the information in the newsletter is correct, accurate, complete, or non-misleading. Information in this article is not intended as legal advice. We are not attorneys. We do not pretend to be attorneys. Though we will sometimes provide information regarding notaries' best practices, federal laws and statutes, and the laws and statutes of each state, we have gathered this information from a variety of sources and do not warrant its accuracy. In no event shall the American Association of Notaries, its employees, or contractors be liable to you for any claims, penalties, loss, damage, or expenses, howsoever arising, including, and without limitation, direct or indirect loss or consequential loss out of or in connection with the use of the information contained in the American Association of Notaries newsletters. It is your responsibility to know the appropriate notary laws governing your state. Notaries are advised to seek the advice of their states' notary authorities or attorneys in their state if they have legal questions. If a section of this disclaimer is determined by any court or other competent authority to be unlawful and/or unenforceable, the other sections of this disclaimer continue in effect.

Florida notary bonds and errors and omissions insurance policies provided by this insurance agency, the American Association of Notaries, Inc., are underwritten by Western Surety Company (established 1900). Kal Tabbara is a licensed insurance agent in Florida.