Updated 9-14-20. It’s important to know what’s required before notarizing for a minor, including whether your state allows it at all. Consulting your state’s Notary law handbook or calling the NNA Hotline for answers beforehand is recommended.
What if the minor has no valid form of identification, which is often the case? In addition, how do you evaluate a minor’s competence to sign the document?
While it’s rare that you will be asked to notarize a minor’s signature, it does happen. Regardless of the circumstances, understanding how to proceed starts with determining if your state’s Notary laws or guidelines allow you to notarize a minor’s signature.
Can You Notarize A Minor’s Signature?
It depends on where you’re commissioned. Guam prohibits notarizing a minor’s signature. Other jurisdictions, such as Nebraska, require a minor to have identification but permit Notaries to refuse the notarization if the Notary has a reasonable belief a minor signer does not understand what they are signing.
In jurisdictions that allow you to notarize for minors, make sure you check for any limitations, restrictions or recommended procedures.
Illinois, for example, requires that the minor have identification and a parent or guardian be present for the notarization. In fact, this is a good general rule for most signing situations involving minors.
Indiana’s stateNotary Public Guide recommends Notaries to advise minors to obtain legal advice before proceeding with the notarial act.
Oregon’s guidelines say minors must be competent in order to sign a document, that the Notary should ask the minor questions such as, “Do you want to sign this document?” and have minors put their age next to their signature so the receiving parties realize they are dealing with a minor. Notaries also should note the minor’s age in their Notary journal.
These recommendations, which often are found in Notary handbooks or posted on your commissioning official’s website, are designed to protect you, the signers and any other party relying on the document.
In states that do not provide specific guidelines for notarizing for minors, such as California, Floridaor Texas, you would follow all the normal state rules for performing the type of notarization requested. The minor would need to present proof of identity following the same identification requirements as an adult signer.
How Do You Identify A Minor?
In some cases, identifying a minor can be as easy as looking at a current passport, or, if they are 16 or over, a valid driver’s license. However, many minors will not have an ID.
You may be able to use one or two credible identifying witnesses in lieu of an ID, provided your state allows you to use them.
Must You Determine A Minor’s Awareness And Willingness?
Identifying the minor is not the only issue. Many jurisdictions also require a Notary to determine that a signer — adult or minor — understands or consents to what they are signing, or allow the Notary to refuse the notarization if they do not. If you are in one of these jurisdictions, here are a few questions you might ask the minor signer:
- What kind of document are you signing?
- What will the document do?
- Do you want to sign the document?
If you have any questions or are unsure how to handle a minor’s request, you can always contact the NNA Hotline.
Kelle Clarke is a Contributing Editor with the National Notary Association.