Online Notary Course  for California

Part 6, Section 2
Notarizing for Family Members

It is perfectly legal to notarize documents for family members in California, so long as you don’t have a personal interest in the matter.  Since California has community property laws, you must be especially careful when notarizing for a spouse or domestic partner. 
Government Code § 8224

You must be absolutely sure that you have no personal interest in the transaction and that you do not stand to gain or benefit in any way as a result of the transaction.  Direct financial or beneficial interest would include such things as notarizing any document that names you as a beneficiary, or any document that benefits your spouse and therefore may benefit community property that you hold with your spouse or domestic partner. 
Government Code § 8224

It is a decision you must make for yourself, depending on the circumstances, but just keep in mind that if someone decides to challenge your notarization and they get a really aggressive attorney, the notarization, and possibly the entire transaction, could be considered void. 

The issue here is “impartiality”.  Notaries must be impartial witnesses in any notarization.  That means that you have absolutely no interest one way or the other about the outcome of the transaction.  With a family member, especially a spouse or domestic partner, it would be difficult to honestly say that you do not care about the transaction or how the parties will be affected.

If you are asked by a family member to notarize a document, and you have any reservations at all, it is usually a simple matter to find them another notary.  Just tell your family member that it’s more to their benefit to have another notary handle it.

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