Some facts about acknowledgments that may be helpful:

  • A notary public should not certify the acknowledgment to an instrument concerning a transaction in which the notary has a disqualifying interest. For instance, if the notary is a property owner, he or she should not execute an acknowledgment involving that property.
  • A notary public may take the acknowledgment of a relative, even a spouse, if the notary has no interest in the transaction. However, to  avoid questions concerning possible disqualifying interests, it is advisable to use an independent third party notary public, if possible.
  • A notary public may act as a witness to and notarize the same instrument.

Signing for Persons with Physical Limitations

A notary public may sign the name of a person whose physical characteristics limit his or her capacity to sign or make a mark on a document presented for notarization if all of the following circumstances exist:

  • The notary public is orally, verbally, or through electronic or mechanical means provided by the person directed to do so by that person;
  • The person is in the physical presence of the notary public;
  • The notary public inscribes beneath the signature: signature affixed pursuant to section 55.113(2) of the Michigan Compiled Laws.

Persons Who Cannot Sign Own Name

A notary public may take the acknowledgment of a person who cannot sign his or her own name. Such a person should sign the instrument by marking an “x” in the presence of two witnesses, one of whom may be a notary public.

Notaries Cannot Certify a Copy of a Document

Michigan notaries public do not have authority to certify a copy of a document and make a statement on the copy that it is a true copy of an original document. Only the person or agency that issued the document, or the person or agency to whom the document was issued, can certify that a copy of the original document is true and accurate.

For example, an official from the school that issued a diploma can certify that a duplicate is a true copy of the original diploma. Or, the person named on the diploma can make a true copy of the original diploma.

Better Not to Sign

  • Notarize only those documents signed in your presence. Do not notarize a document you know is false or part of an illegal or fraudulent scheme, or if you or a family member have a financial interest.
  • Notarize a signature only when identity is clearly established.
  • Notarize a signature only after watching the person sign the document. Do not accept a signature as genuine on the word of a third party.
  • Notarize papers and documents after completion by the person whose signature is notarized.
  • Never notarize your own signature or documents in which you are named as a party.