State Notary References

Each State’s Rules for Finalizing Healthcare Directives

This is a great list made by Attorney Valerie Keene of what each state’s requirements concerning Healthcare Directives. Select your state to learn about your state’s laws or simply scroll down.

StateDocument Name(s) & Signing Requirements
AlabamaAdvance Directive for Health Care Two witnesses are required. Neither of your witnesses may be under the age of 19your health care proxy the person who signed your advance directive for you, if you were unable to sign it yourself related to you by blood, marriage or adoption entitled to any portion of your estate by operation of law or under your will, or directly financially responsible for your medical care. If you grant your proxy the power to direct your burial or cremation, your advance directive must also be notarized.
AlaskaAdvance Health Care Directive If you grant your agent power to direct your burial or cremation, your document must be notarized. If you do not grant this power, you may choose to have your document signed by two witnesses or notarized. If you choose to have the document witnessed, neither of your witnesses may be your health care agent your health care provider an employee of your health care provider, or an employee of the health care institution or health care facility where you are receiving health care. In addition, at least one of your witnesses must not be related to you by blood, marriage or adoption—and must not be entitled to any part of your estate under a will or codicil (amendment to a will).
ArizonaLiving Will & Health Care Power of Attorney Both documents must be signed by at least one witness or notarized. If you choose to have the document witnessed, you may choose to have one or two witnesses. If you choose to have one witness, your witness may not be any person involved in providing your health care related to you by blood, marriage or adoption, or entitled to any part of your estate by operation of law or under your will.If you have two witnesses, your witnesses do not need to meet the last two requirements on the list above.If you choose to have your document notarized, the notary may not be:your health care agent, orany person involved in providing your health care.
ArkansasLiving WillMust be signed by two witnesses or notarized. If you choose to have your document witnessed, your witnesses must be at least 18 years old. In addition, one of your witnesses may not be related to you by blood, marriage or adoption, or entitled to any part of your estate under your will or by operation of law.Durable Power of Attorney for Health CareIf you grant your agent power to direct your burial or cremation, your document must be signed by two witnesses. If you do not grant this power, you may choose to have the document signed by two witnesses or notarized. If you choose to have your document witnessed, your witnesses must be at least 18 years old. In addition, one of your witnesses may not be related to you by blood, marriage or adoption, or entitled to any part of your estate under your will or by operation of law.
CaliforniaAdvance Directive for Health CareMust either be signed by two witnesses or notarized.If you choose to have the document witnessed, neither of your witnesses may be:your health care agentyour health care provideran employee of your health care providerthe operator of a community care facilityan employee of a community care facilitythe operator of a residential care facility for the elderly, oran employee of a residential care facility for the elderly.In addition, one of your witnesses must not be related to you by blood, marriage or adoption—and must not be entitled to any part of your estate by operation of law or under your will.Finally, if you are in a skilled nursing facility, the document must also be witnessed by a patient advocate or ombudsman. (This requirement applies whether the document is witnessed or notarized.)
ColoradoDeclaration as to Medical or Surgical Treatment Medical Durable Power of AttorneyBoth documents must be signed by two witnesses and may also be notarized.Neither of your witnesses may be:a physicianan employee of your attending physicianan employee of a health care facility where you are a patienta person with a claim against your estate, ora person entitled to any part of your estate by operation of law or under your will.In addition, if you are a patient or resident of a health care facility, the witnesses cannot be patients of that facility.
ConnecticutHealth Care Instructions and Appointment of Health Care Agent and Attorney-in-Fact for Health Care DecisionsMust be signed by two witnesses.Although the law does not restrict who can serve as a witness, we suggest that your witnesses be at least 18 years old and the person named to serve as your health care agent and your attorney-in-fact for health care decisions not act as a witness. You and your witnesses may also sign in front of a notary public, but you are not required to do so.Document Concerning Withholding or Withdrawal of Life Support SystemsMust be signed by two witnesses. Although the law does not restrict who can serve as a witness, we suggest that your witnesses be at least 18 years old and the person named to serve as your health care agent and your attorney-in-fact for health care decisions not act as a witness.Appointment of Health Care Agent and Attorney-in-Fact for Health Care Must be signed by two witnesses. Although the law does not restrict who can serve as a witness, we suggest that your witnesses be at least 18 years old and the person named to serve as your health care agent and your attorney-in-fact for health care decisions not act as a witness.
DelawareAdvance Health Care DirectiveThe document must be signed by two witnesses. Neither of your witnesses may be:under the age of 18related to you by blood, marriage or adoptionan owner, operator or employee of a residential long-term health care institution in which you are a residenta person directly financially responsible for your medical carea person with a claim against any portion of your estate, ora person entitled to any portion of your estate by operation of law or under your will.If you are a resident of a sanitarium, rest home, nursing home, boarding home or related institution, one of the witnesses must be, at the time you sign the Advance Health Care Directive, a patient advocate or ombudsman designated by the Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities or the Public Guardian.
District of ColumbiaDeclarationMust be signed by two witnesses. Neither of your witnesses may be:under the age of 18related to you by blood, marriage or domestic partnershipyour attending physicianan employee of your attending physicianan employee of a health care facility where you are a patientthe person who signed your declaration for you, if you were unable to sign it yourselfa person entitled to any part of your estate by operation of law or under your will, ora person directly financially responsible for your medical care.If you are a patient in a skilled care facility, one witness must be a patient advocate or ombudsman.Durable Power of Attorney for Health CareMust be signed by two witnesses. Neither of your witnesses may be:under the age of 18your health care attorney-in-factyour health care provider, oran employee of your health care provider.In addition, one of your witnesses must not be related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption and must not be entitled to any part of your estate by operation of law or under your will.
FloridaLiving WillMust be signed by two witnesses, one of whom must not be your spouse or related to you by blood.Designation of Health Care SurrogateMust be signed by two witnesses, both of whom must be at least 18 years old. Neither witness may be your health care surrogate. In addition, one of your witnesses must not be your spouse or a blood relative.
GeorgiaAdvance Directive for Health CareMust be signed by two witnesses. Neither of your witnesses may be:under the age of 18your health care agenta person who is directly involved in your health care, ora person who will knowingly inherit anything from you or knowingly gain a financial benefit from your death.In addition, only one of your witnesses may be an employee, agent or medical staff member of the hospital, skilled nursing facility, hospice or other health care facility in which you are receiving health care. (This witness is still prohibited from being directly involved in your health care.)
HawaiiAdvance Health Care DirectiveIf you grant power to direct your burial or cremation, your document must be notarized. If you do not grant this power, you may choose to have your document signed by two witnesses or notarized. If you choose to have the document witnessed, neither of your witnesses may be:your health care agenta health care provider, oran employee of a health care provider facility.In addition, at least one of your witnesses must not be related to you by blood, marriage or adoption—and must not be entitled to any part of your estate by operation of law or under your will.
IdahoLiving Will and Durable Power of Attorney for Health CareIdaho law does not require that your documents be witnessed or notarized. However, witnesses are recommended to avoid concerns that the document was forged, that you were forced to sign it or that it does not represent your wishes. If you choose to have your documents witnessed, we suggest that your witnesses be at least 18 years old and that your health care agent not act as a witness.
IllinoisDeclarationMust be signed by two witnesses. Neither of your witnesses may be:under the age of 18the person who signed your declaration for you, if you were unable to sign it yourselfa person entitled to any part of your estate by operation of law or under your will, ora person directly financially responsible for your medical care.Durable Power of Attorney for Health CareMust be signed by one witness. Your witness may not be:under the age of 18your attending physician, advanced practice nurse, physician assistant, dentist, podiatric physician, optometrist, or psychologista relative of any of the health care professionals listed just abovean owner, operator or relative of an owner or operator of a health care facility in which you are a patient or resident (this includes directors or executive officers of an operator that is a corporate entity, but not other employees of the operator, such as non- owner chaplains, social workers or nurses)a parent, sibling, or descendant, or the spouse of a parent, sibling, or descendant, of either you, your agent, or your alternate agent, regardless of whether the relationship is by blood, marriage, or adoption, oryour agent or alternate agent for health care.
IndianaLiving Will DeclarationMust be signed by two witnesses. Neither of your witnesses may be:under the age of 18your parent, spouse, or childa person entitled to any part of your estatea person directly financially responsible for your medical care, orthe person who signed your declaration for you, if you were unable to sign it yourself.Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and Appointment of Health Care RepresentativeMust be notarized.
IowaDeclaration & Durable Power of Attorney for Health CareBoth documents must follow the same requirements: Must be signed by two witnesses or notarized.If you choose to have the document witnessed, neither of your witnesses may be:under the age of 18your health care agentyour health care provider, oran employee of your health care provider.In addition, one of your witnesses must not be related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption within the third degree of consanguinity (parents, children, siblings, grandchildren, grandparents, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, and great-grandchildren).
KansasDeclarationMust be signed by two witnesses or notarized. Neither of your witnesses may be:under the age of 18the person who signed your declaration for you, if you were unable to sign it yourselfrelated to you by blood or marriageentitled to any part of your estate by operation of law or under your will, ordirectly financially responsible for your health care.Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care DecisionsMust be signed by two witnesses or notarized.If you choose to have the document witnessed, neither of your witnesses may be:under the age of 18your agent for health care decisionsrelated to you by blood, marriage, or adoptionentitled to any part of your estate by operation of law or under your will, ordirectly financially responsible for your health care.
KentuckyAdvance DirectiveMust be signed by two witnesses or notarized. Neither of your witnesses nor the notary may be:related to you by bloodyour beneficiary by operation of Kentucky lawyour attending physicianan employee of a health care facility where you are a patient, unless the employee serves as a notary public, ordirectly financially responsible for your health
Louisiana(Nolo does not provide legal information about estate planning in Louisiana.)
MaineAdvance Health Care DirectiveThe document must be signed by two witnesses. Although the law does not restrict who can serve as a witness, we suggest that your witnesses be at least 18 years old and that your health care agent not act as a witness.
MarylandAdvance DirectiveThe document must be signed by two witnesses. The person you name as your health care agent cannot serve as a witness. In addition, at least one of your witnesses must be a person who is not entitled to any portion of your estate, and who is not entitled to any financial benefit by reason of your death.
MassachusettsDocument Directing Health Care & Health Care ProxyBoth documents must be signed by two witnesses. Neither of your witnesses may be:under the age of 18, oryour health care agent.
MichiganDocument Directing Health CareMust be signed by two witnesses. Although the law does not restrict who can serve as a witness, we suggest that your witnesses be at least 18 years old and that your patient advocate not act as a witness.Patient Advocate DesignationMust be signed by two witnesses. Neither of your witnesses may be:under the age of 18your spouse, parent, child, grandchild, or siblingyour patient advocateyour physicianan employee of your life or health insurance provideran employee of a health care facility where you are a patientan employee of a home for the aged where you live, orentitled to any portion of your estate by operation of law or under your will.
MinnesotaHealth Care DirectiveMust be signed by two witnesses or notarized. Neither of your witnesses nor the notary may be your health care agent.If you choose to have the document witnessed, at least one of the witnesses may not be a health care provider or an employee of a provider directly attending to you.If you choose to have the document notarized, the notary may not be your health care agent.
MississippiAdvance Health Care DirectiveMust be signed by two witnesses or notarized.If you choose to have the document witnessed, neither of your witnesses may be:under the age of 18your health care agenta health care provider, oran employee of a health care provider or facility.In addition, one witness must not be related to you by blood, marriage or adoption and must not be entitled to any part of your estate by operation of law or under your will.
MissouriDeclarationMust be signed by two witnesses. Neither of your witnesses may be:under the age of 18, orthe person who signed your declaration for you, if you were unable to sign it yourself.Durable Power of Attorney for Health CareIf you grant your agent power to direct your burial or cremation, your document must be signed in front of two witnesses and notarized. If you do not grant this power, only the notary is necessary.
MontanaDeclaration & Durable Power of Attorney for Health CareBoth documents must be signed by two witnesses. Although the law does not restrict who can serve as a witness, we suggest that your witnesses be at least 18 years old and that your health care agent not act as a witness.
NebraskaDeclarationMust be signed by two witnesses or notarized. If you choose to have the document witnessed, neither of your witnesses may be:under the age of 18, oran employee of your life or health insurance provider.In addition, one witness may not be a director or employee of your treating health care provider.Durable Power of Attorney for Health CareIf you grant your agent power to direct your burial or cremation, your document must be notarized. If you do not grant your agent the power to direct your burial or cremation, you may choose to have your document signed by two witnesses or notarized. If you choose to have the document witnessed, neither of your witnesses may be:your attorney-in-fact for health care decisionsyour attending physicianyour spouse, parent, child, grandchild or siblingyour presumptive heir or known devisee, oran employee of your life or health insurance provider.In addition, one of your witnesses must not be an administrator or employee of your health care provider.
NevadaDeclarationMust be signed by two witnesses. Although the law does not restrict who can serve as a witness, we suggest that your witnesses be at least 18 years old and that your attorney-in-fact for health care decisions not act as a witness.Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care DecisionsIf you grant your agent power to direct your burial or cremation, your document must be notarized. If you do not grant this power, you may choose to have your document signed by two witnesses or notarized. If you choose to have the document witnessed, neither of your witnesses may be:under the age of 18your attorney-in-fact for health care decisionsa health care provideran employee of a health care providerthe operator of a health care facility, oran employee of the operator of a health care facility.In addition, one of your witnesses must not be related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption and must not be entitled to any part of your estate by operation of law or under your will.
New HampshireAdvance DirectiveMust be signed by two witnesses or notarized. If you choose to have the document witnessed, neither of your witnesses may be:under the age of 18your health care agentyour attending physician or advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP) or a person acting under the direction or control of the attending physician or ARNPyour spouse, orentitled to any part of your estate by operation of law or under your will.In addition, no more than one witness may be a health or residential care provider or such provider’s employee.
New JerseyCombined Advance Directive for Health Care & Instruction Directive or Proxy DirectiveAny document must be signed by two witnesses or notarized.If you choose to have the document witnessed, neither of your witnesses may be:under the age of 18, oryour health care representative.
New MexicoAdvance Health Care DirectiveThe law does not require that your advance directive be witnessed. However, witnesses are recommended to avoid concerns that the document might be forged, that you were forced to sign it, or that it does not genuinely represent your wishes. If you choose to have your document witnessed, we suggest that your witnesses be at least 18 years old.
New YorkDocument Directing Health Care & Health Care ProxyBoth must be signed by two witnesses. Neither of your witnesses may be:under the age of 18your health care agent, orthe person who signed the declaration for you, if you were unable to sign it for yourselfIf you reside in a mental health facility, your witnesses must meet additional requirements. Ask your mental health care provider for more information.
North CarolinaAdvance DirectiveMust be signed by two witnesses and notarized. Neither of your witnesses may be:related to you by blood or marriageyour attending physician or mental health treatment providera licensed health care provider who is (1) an employee of your attending physician or mental health treatment provider, (2) an employee of the health facility in which you are a patient, or (3) an employee of a nursing home or any adult care home where you residea person entitled to any part of your estate by operation of law or under your will, ora person with a claim against you or your estate.Health Care Power of AttorneyMust be signed by two witnesses and notarized. Neither of your witnesses may be:under the age of 18related to you by blood or marriageyour attending physician or mental health treatment providera licensed health care provider who is (1) an employee of your attending physician or mental health treatment provider, (2) an employee of the health facility in which you are a patient, or (3) an employee of a nursing home or any adult care home where you residea person entitled to any part of your estate by operation of law or under your will, ora person with a claim against you or your estate.
North DakotaMust be signed by two witnesses or notarized. Neither the witnesses nor the notary may be:under the age of 18your spouse or another person related to you by blood, marriage or adoptionyour health care agenta person entitled to any part of your estate upon your death, ora person with a claim against your estate.In addition, at least one witness must not be a health care or long-term care provider providing you with direct care or an employee of the health care or long-term care provider providing you with direct care. (This restriction does not apply to the notary.)
OhioDeclarationMust be signed by two witnesses or notarized. If you choose to have the document witnessed, neither of your witnesses may be:under the age of 18related to you by blood, marriage, or adoptionyour attending physicianan administrator of a nursing home where you receive care, orthe person who signed your declaration, if you were unable to sign it yourself.Durable Power of Attorney for Health CareMust be signed by two witnesses or notarized. If you choose to have the document witnessed, neither of your witnesses may be:under the age of 18related to you by blood, marriage, or adoptionyour attorney-in-factyour attending physician, oran administrator of a nursing home where you receive care.
OklahomaAdvance Directive for Health CareIf you grant your agent power to direct your burial or cremation, your document must be signed in front of two witnesses and notarized. If you do not grant this power, only the witnesses are necessary. Neither of your witnesses may be:under the age of 18related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption, ora person who might inherit from you.
OregonAdvance DirectiveMust be signed by two witnesses.Neither of your witnesses may be:your health care representative, oryour attending physicianOne witness may not be:related to you by blood, marriage or adoptionan owner, operator or employee of a health care facility where you are a resident, ora person entitled to any part of your estate upon your death.
PennsylvaniaDeclaration & Durable Power of Attorney for Health CareBoth documents must be signed by two witnesses. Neither of your witnesses may be:under the age of 18, orthe person who signed your declaration for you, if you were unable to sign it yourself.
Rhode IslandDeclarationMust be signed by two witnesses. Your witnesses may not be related to you by blood or marriage.Durable Power of Attorney for Health CareIf you grant your agent power to direct your burial or cremation, your document must be notarized. If you do not grant this power, you may choose to have your document signed by two witnesses or notarized.If your document will be notarized, the notary may not be:related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption, orentitled to any part of your estate by operation of law or under your will.If you choose to have the document witnessed, neither of your witnesses may be:under the age of 18your health care agenta health care provideran employee of a health care providerthe operator of a community care facility, oran employee of an operator of a community care provider.In addition, one of your witnesses must not be related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption and must not be entitled to any part of your estate by operation of law or under your will.
South CarolinaDeclarationMust be signed by two witnesses and notarized. Neither of your witnesses may be:related to you by blood, marriage, or adoptionyour attending physicianan employee of your attending physiciana person directly financially responsible for your medical carea person entitled to any part of your estate by operation of law or under your willa beneficiary of your life insurance policy, ora person who has a claim against your estate.No more than one of your witnesses may be an employee of a health care facility where you are a patient. If you are in a hospital or nursing care facility when you sign your declaration, at least one of your witnesses must be an ombudsman designated by the state.Health Care Power of AttorneyMust be signed by two witnesses and notarized. Neither of your witnesses may be:your health care agentyour attending physicianan employee of your attending physicianrelated to you by blood, marriage, or adoptiondirectly financially responsible for your medical carethe beneficiary of an insurance policy on your lifea person with a claim against your estate at the time you sign your document, ora person entitled to any portion of your estate by operation of law or under your will.In addition, only one witness may be an employee of a health care facility in which you are a patient.
South DakotaLiving Will DeclarationMust be signed by two witnesses, both of whom are at least 18 years old, and may also be notarized, although notarization is optional.Durable Power of Attorney for Health CareMust be signed by two witnesses, both of whom are at least 18 years old.
TennesseeAdvance Health Care DirectiveMust be signed by two witnesses or a notary. If you choose to have your document witnessed, both witnesses must be competent adults and neither may be your health care agent. In addition, at least one of your witnesses must not be related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption—and must not be entitled to any part of your estate by operation of law or under your will.
TexasDirective to Physicians and Family or SurrogatesMust be signed by two witnesses. Your witnesses must be at least 18 years old. In addition, at least one of your witnesses may not be:your health care agentrelated to you by blood or marriageyour attending physicianan employee of your attending physicianan employee of a health care facility in which you are a patient if the employee is providing direct care to you or is an officer, director, partner, or business office employee of the health care facility or of any parent organization of the health care facility, or an employee of a health care facility in which you are a patient if the employee is providing direct care to you or is an officer, director, partner, or business office employee of the health care facility or of any parent organization of the health care facility, ora person who is entitled to or has a claim against any part of your estate after your death.Medical Power of AttorneyIf you grant your agent power to direct your burial or cremation, your document must be signed by two witnesses and notarized. Your witnesses must be at least 18 years old. In addition, at least one of your witnesses may not be:your health care agentrelated to you by blood or marriageyour attending physicianan employee of your attending physicianan employee of a health care facility in which you are a patient if the employee is providing direct care to you or is an officer, director, partner, or business office employee of the health care facility or of any parent organization of the health care facility, ora person who is entitled to or has a claim against any part of your estate after your death.If you do not grant your agent power to direct your burial or cremation, you may choose to have your document signed by two witnesses (subject to the requirements, above) or notarized.
UtahAdvance Health Care DirectiveMust be signed by one witness. Your witness may not be:under the age of 18your health care agentrelated to you by blood or marriagea health care provider who is providing care to youan administrator at a health care facility where you are receiving carea person directly financially responsible for your medical carea beneficiary of a life insurance policy, trust, qualified plan, pay-on-death account, or transfer-on-death deed that is held, owned, made, or established by you or on your behalfentitled to benefit financially upon your deathentitled to a right to, or interest in, any of your real or personal property upon your death, orthe person who signed your document for you, if you were unable to sign it yourself.If you grant your agent power to direct your burial or cremation, your document must be signed in front of two witnesses.
VermontAdvance DirectiveMust be signed by two witnesses. Neither witness may be:under the age of 18your health care agent, oryour spouse, parent, adult sibling, adult child, or adult grandchildIn addition, if you are a patient in a hospital, nursing home or residential care facility, a designated person must sign the document after explaining it to you. Ask a patient representative for help with this requirement.
VirginiaAdvance Medical DirectiveIf you grant your agent power to direct your burial or cremation, your document must be signed in front of two witnesses and notarized—and your health care agent must sign the part of the document that grants the power.If you do not grant your agent power to direct your burial or cremation, only the witnesses are necessary.Your witnesses must be over the age of 18. In addition, we suggest that your health care agent not act as a witness.
WashingtonHealth Care DirectiveMust be signed by two witnesses. Neither of your witnesses may be:under the age of 18related to you by blood or marriageyour attending physicianan employee of your attending physicianan employee of a health care facility where you are a patienta person entitled to any part of your estate by operation of law or under your will, ora person with a claim against your estate.Durable Power of Attorney for Health CareMust be signed by two witnesses or notarized. If you choose to have your document witnessed, neither of your witnesses may be:under the age of 18related to you by blood, marriage, or state-registered domestic partnership, ora care provider for you at your home, at an adult family home, or at a long-term care facility if you live there.
West VirginiaLiving Will & Medical Power of AttorneyBoth documents must meet the same requirements: Must be signed by two witnesses and notarized. Neither of your witnesses may be:under the age of 18your health care representative or successor representativethe person who signed your document, if you were unable to sign it yourselfrelated to you by blood or marriageyour attending physiciana person directly financially responsible for your medical care, ora person entitled to any part of your estate by operation of law or under your will.
WisconsinDeclaration to PhysiciansMust be signed by two witnesses. Neither of your witnesses may be:related to you by blood, marriage, or adoptionyour domestic partneryour health care provideran employee of your health care provider, other than a chaplain or a social workeran employee of an inpatient health care facility where you are a patient, other than a chaplain or a social workera person directly financially responsible for your medical carea person who has a claim against your estate, ora person entitled to any part of your estate by operation of law or under your will.Power of Attorney for Health CareMust be signed by two witnesses. Neither of your witnesses may be:under the age of 18your health care agentrelated to you by blood, marriage, or adoptionyour domestic partneryour health care provideran employee of your health care provider, other than a chaplain or a social workeran employee of an inpatient health care facility where you are a patient, other than a chaplain or a social workera person directly financially responsible for your medical care, ora person with a claim against your estate.
WyomingAdvance Health Care DirectiveMust be signed by two witnesses or notarized. If you choose to have the document witnessed, both witnesses must be competent adults who know you personally. In addition, neither of your witnesses may be:your health care agenta treating health care provideran employee of a treating health care providerthe operator of a community care facilityan employee of an operator of a community care facilitythe operator of a residential care facility, oran employee of an operator of a residential care facility.
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I-9 Form and Notaries Public

Notaries are often asked to complete I-9 forms by employees hired or working remotely from their employer. Employers may actually be instructing their newly hired employees to seek out a notary public in their area to assist in completing the form and review identifying documents. This may appear as something a Notary can do since they are reviewing identifying documents as a normal course of notarization. However, the I-9 Form is not a document that gets notarized – Ever! Before discussing why this is so, let’s learn what an I-9 Form is and how it must be completed.

It is required for all Employers to complete and retain the I-9 Form for all employees they hire. The form has three sections. Once hired, the Employee completes Section 1 of the form. This must be submitted to the Employer by the first day of employment.

Section 1 of I-9 Form

The Employer is responsible for completing Section 2. This is the section that Notaries are contacted to assist with. There are temporary rules that allow this completion and inspection of identifying documents to be conducted remotely. Employers will not be required to review the employee’s identity and employment authorization documents in the employee’s physical presence. The Employer can either complete this form or authorize another (Authorized Representative) to complete the form.  An authorized representative can be any person the employer designates to complete and sign Form I-9 on their behalf. This is where Notaries can get into trouble. Often Notaries are getting requests for completing I-9 Forms from Employees. But this form specifically states that it must be completed by the Employer or their Authorized Representative. The reason for this is because the Employer is liable for any violations in connection with the form or the verification process, including any violations in connection with the form or the verification process, including any violations of the employer sanctions laws committed by the person designated to act on the employer’s behalf. Notaries are not commissioned (or licensed) by their state for this authority; therefore, it is not within their capacity to conduct the completion of the I-9 Form.

I-9 Form Section 2

Can Notaries assist with the completion of the I-9 Form? Based upon the information on the document and from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services site, anyone the Employer selects and approves as Authorized Representative of the Employer may complete the form. If the Employer requests and approves a Notary Public to act as the Authorized Representative, and the notary agrees, then the Notary Public may assist in completing the I-9 Form based upon the instructions. However, any Notary doing so is no longer acting in the capacity of a Notary Public, but as the Authorized Representative of the Employer.

When notaries get requests to complete an I-9 Form, be prepared to gain information on the following:

  • Is the request coming from an Employer? If not, direct the requester to have their Employer seek the request. Only the employer can authorize a representative on their behalf.
  • In accepting the assignment as Authorized Representative, review what tasks are necessary to complete the form.
  • Never complete the form as a Notary Public or place your seal on the form. Seek guidance from your state’s licensing/commission before accepting the assignment.
  • Make sure you are aware that you are signing the document under penalty of perjury and that everything on the document is true and accurate. If there are blanks, consider having it completed or not signing.
Covid-19, RON

Notaries, Beware of RON

States are enacting emergency orders to allow RON, Remote Online Notarization, as a way to safeguard both the public and notaries in areas where quarantine orders have been instituted. Besides taking away one of the primary functions of personal appearance, RON also takes away the notary’s ability to identify the signers. The function of identity verification occurs through a third party function before the signer is connected to the notary public via audio visual means.

If notaries conduct business in a state which mandates notary’s responsibility for identification, using RON can make the notaries legally responsible for incorrect identification that the third party made.

Considering RON only uses a less reliable system where personal questions are posed to the signer who must answer correctly before being given access to the notary public, the ability of fraud can become prevalent. Currently RON does not have the ability to use Biometric methods (facial recognition, thumbprinting, etc) even though states, like Virginia, have written laws to require it.

Primary functions of the notary public are to identify the signer and determine their understanding and awareness of what they are signing. These functions are seriously limited when using RON. With the identification piece entirely eliminated from the notary’s responsibility, states that place the legal responsibility on the notary will need to revise their laws to safeguard notaries public from legal ramifications regarding the identification of signers.

If you are a notary, please read your state laws carefully before engaging in RON. You may be subjecting yourself to more harm than protecting yourself from Covid-19.noron

Covid-19

Notaries Public and Signing Agents are Essential Workforce

Notaries Public are ” Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce for the financial services sector” as defined by the attached memorandum from US Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin. Notaries Public are “. . . workers who are needed to process . . . financial transactions and services, such as . . . settlement services,. . . to provide consumer access to . . . lending services, including . . key third party providers who deliver core services.” Notaries Essential

New Legislation

Remote Online Notarization (RON) Does Not Deter Fraud

There is a significant push to move the process of notarizing documents from in-person to over the internet (coining it as the “RON movement” which means Remote Online Notary movement). The organizations pushing for this move are marketing online notarization as bringing the “old school” process of in-person notarization into a “modern convenient”, “business transformation” over the internet notarization that will result in “real estate savings”.

But at what cost?

Consumers, courts, and law officials understand that Notaries Public are trusted individuals commissioned by their states to help protect the public from fraud when they place their seal on documents. “Through the process of notarization, Notaries deter fraud and establish that the signer knows what document they’re signing and that they’re a willing participant in the transaction.” (Citation from NNA) There are particular screening processes the notaries take to determine a signer’s identity and their understanding of what they are signing and willingness to sign.  Doing this type of screening over the internet makes the screening process more difficult. And the current security processes the RON movement utilize for notarizing real estate transactions have yet to be tested in any court of law. 

Remote Online Notarization (“RON”) has yet to prove it deters fraud.

In an online notarization, the process to identify a customer shifts away from notaries public to a third party process that utilizes “modern tools that validate identity online, such as credential analysis and knowledge-based authentication” Notarize.com citation. However, these “modern tools” can be manipulated by “modern” identity theft fraudsters who use the internet to find the security question answers to bypass the validation mechanisms used in RON. With online notarizations, the notary public doesn’t have the ability to physically examine identification to independently authenticate the identity of the signer. And with another high-tech fakery like “deep fake” video, the notary public can be fooled into certifying the signature of a fraudster. 

“RON” makes it difficult for notaries to provide evidence for law enforcement.

The National Notary Association has indicated in their the 2017 “MODEL ELECTRONIC NOTARIZATION ACT” the need for online notarization to require the capture of principals’ and witnesses’ thumbprints for all real property documents. (Ch 9, § 9-4 Journal Entries, pg. 51) NNA asserts that many impostors will be deterred from committing forgery because they will not want to leave a thumbprint behind in the notary’s journal as proof of their attempted crime. Prosecutors often use the journal evidence to bring forgers to justice. Currently, no RON implementation has provided the ability to obtain thumbprints. California currently requires notaries to obtain thumbprints for notarizations dealing with deeds and power of attorneys. However, the current California online notarization bill, AB 199, has removed this requirement. If this bill passes into law as it is currently written, it will be more difficult to provide evidence of fraudulent notarized transactions. 

“RON” diminishes the ability for Notaries Public to determine the willingness of signers.

To determine signers understand what they are signing and their willingness to sign, notaries public observe the nuances of the signers’ non-verbal communication because nonverbal communication tends to do the work of communicating emotions more than verbal.  In the online environment, it is more difficult to pick up what is being communicated nonverbally.  Notaries may not be able to hear the signer’s tone of voice, see their gestures, or know if someone else in the room is intimidating them. The ability to determine the signers’ willingness and understanding to sign is therefore diminished when the parties engage over the internet. 

Why the Rush?

As the Vice President of Old Republic Title National Underwriting Counsel wrote: “Caution is the watchword here. State, federal and bankruptcy courts have invalidated mortgages and other documents due to defective notarizations. When that happens, the lender’s lien position is not only jeopardized but the enforceability of the mortgage itself is put at risk.” Current processes used by RON are not entirely equipped to handle safeguarding fraudsters in the way in-person notarizations are. The process of notarizing documents has been going on for hundreds of years and there is no upcoming end to this process. Before states hop on the bandwagon of RON, the lawmakers should assess their current process and determine if the movement to online notarizations will benefit or provide a detriment to their current process.   

Federal laws in recent years have pushed to protect consumer privacy and security, lawmakers would benefit to consider the costs and benefits of RON for their constituents.  Notaries Public are trusted by the public at large, courts, businesses, and law enforcement. There should be no reason to rush towards an untested process that may very well create more consumer fraud and abuse which can lead to distrust of the notary public profession.

How notaries serve the public seems to be working just fine going on several hundred years now. Let’s take a step back and focus on considering all avenues to safeguard the consumer in every way. When it comes to notarization, consumer protection is the ultimate purpose.