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Your Rights as a Notary

As a public officer, a Florida notary has to be prepared and willing to carry out their duties for a client who needs a notarial act which is both lawful and authorized. It’s a notary’s job to serve as an impartial witness to the execution of documents, as well as, deter fraud and ensure the integrity of document transactions. However, there are circumstances and conditions when a Florida notary will be bound by law to refuse notary services, click here to know more.

Close up of signing a mortgage contract in the office.

Signer Issues

There will be multiple instances regarding signer-related issues where a notary must refuse a notarization. For example, if the signer doesn’t make a physical appearance in front of the notary, or is unrecognizable by the notary through their own personal knowledge, their driver license, or a credible witness; then by law, a notary must refuse to offer their services.

Florida statute also states that a notary cannot take the acknowledgment of a signer who does not understand and speak the English language, except if the nature and wording of the document to be notarized is translated into a language the person comprehends. Furthermore, the notary also should not officiate if the notary and signer cannot speak in a shared language.

Two business men refusing

Other Situations When to Refuse Notarization

  • If the signer refuses to sign the document when the notarial act requires it to be signed in the notary’s presence (oath, affirmation).
  • If the signer asks the notary to perform any unlawful act such as certifying a copy of a vital document.
  • If the signer is confused about something or clearly doesn’t understand the contents of the document they are signing.
  • If the signer seems to be mentally incapacitated.
  • If the signer appears to be drunk, sedated, or disoriented.
  • If it’s clear the signer is being coerced, and there is someone present who seems like they have control over the situation and the signer.
A manager giving an employee direction while pointing at a piece of paper

Conflicts of Interest

Florida notary laws also state specific prohibitions when a notarization presents a conflict of interest for the notary itself. For instance, a public notary cannot notarize a document if the public notary has a financial interest or is part of the underlying transaction. Additionally, a notary may not notarize a document if he or she is the one who is the signer of the document. A notary also has to refuse service if the signer is the notary’s spouse, parent, or child. Staying an unbiased and disinterested party should always be the main priority for a Florida notary; to maintain their integrity of the documents they are notarizing.

A man and woman looking over a document they are going to sign

Document Issues

If the document to be signed does not meet the requirements of notarization, then the notary is not allowed to proceed. Certain situations that make a document ineligible for notarization include:

  • If the document is missing pages, or if the notary didn’t receive all the pages.
  • If the document doesn’t contain a notarial certificate and the signer cannot explain what type of notarial certification is required.
  • If there are blank spaces in the document that would be necessary for the signer’s understanding of the document and the signer is unaware of the information that belongs in the blank spaces.

Every Florida notary should have a thorough comprehension of their state’s notary laws to guarantee the best judgment possible when they are serving their clients and when having to decide the right time to refuse notarization.