Notaries and Witnesses
Often I am asked to provide witnesses in addition to my notarizing documents. And more often I am asked “why is it necessary to have witnesses when the document is being notarized?” I explain to my clients that Witnesses are neutral third parties whose job it is to ensure that the document was signed by both parties and no forgery took place. Having someone there to attest to this can be valuable if there is ever a dispute regarding the parties or the contract. Witnesses may also confirm the identity of both parties. They then sign the document as a witness to prove they saw each party sign.
It is important to note that Witnesses cannot benefit from the contract in any way or be related to one of the parties. For instance, a beneficiary cannot witness a Will where they will be inheriting assets.
In addition, Witnesses must be 18 years old and of sound mind when witnessing a document’s execution.
Another question I am frequently asked is “can a notary serve as a witness?” Most jurisdictions allow a Notary to serve as a witness. But if they are witnessing a document, they cannot verify their own signature as a Notary because it would be a conflict of interest.
As a Notary, whenever you are executing a document, you need to make sure you are signing the document in accordance with your state law’s requirements and those of your document. You must also be certain to get proper identification from the witness(es) and keep a record of it in your journal.
For additional information, please contact Center City Notary – we look forward to talking with you.