Why can attorneys notarize docs for their clients?

Notaries Public are not allowed to notarize documents from which we will derive financial benefits. Why can attorneys notarize documents for their clients, when the notarizing attorney is also the attorney of record being paid out of the proceeds of the lawsuit?

I always wonder that myself.

Mine does. He’s actually been an attorney for 30 years, and has a very small office. His two associates and legal assistant are also notaries. As long as there is no financial, beneficial interest, they may notarize your documents.

I believe that “financial interest” means that the notary is named in the will or deed or other document so that the document itself gives a financial benefit to the notary. That is not allowed. That is different from an attorney creating a pleading or other lawsuit document and being paid for the work they do. I am an Arizona certified legal document preparer and we also can notarize documents that we prepare for people. We are paid for preparing the documents but if I was named in the document then I would not be able to notarize it.


Attorneys - in particular personal injury attorneys - are paid a portion of the total they win for the client. That would make their interest in the suit extremely personal.

I would not notarize a document involving any amount coming to me for any reason.

I don’t agree. The documents they prepare do not name them on title, as a beneficiary, or in any other way. They are just preparing the lawsuit for the client. How they collect their fee doesn’t matter. The fee is for preparing the lawsuit and representing the client in court. If they were actually a party to the lawsuit or an heir, then of course they couldn’t notarize. Lawsuits don’t need to be notarized anyway. So personal injury attorneys would not normally notarize any documents. It’s estate attorneys who notarize wills and trusts that they prepare. As long as they are not named in the will or trust they can notarize.

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Here in WA - PI attorneys do notarize. Surprised me a great deal to see that - looked very closely indeed. I’ll have to dig out my copy so that I can post the name of the document in question.

They might notarize but they don’t notarize lawsuits. It would have to be another document that needs notarization like POA’s but the same thing applies, if they aren’t involved in the transaction and all they do is prepare documents and notarize them, the fact that they get paid for doing the work is not an issue.

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I agree with Susan’s assessment. I am a Legal Document Assistant. I help people with legal document preparation. I can also act as a notary and certify their signature on a document. If I help people by preparing a deed for a property that I do not own or I am not being transferred, I can notarize their signatures on that deed. I just switch hats from LDA to Notary…

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Attorneys need to also be notaries public to notarize anything. If they are notaries and they are not named as a beneficiary or as a signer that is being notarized, then they should be able to notarize documents. But then if a Title company only authorizes a notary in their database (ie., Fidelity approved notary) and the attorney/notary isn’t part of the database, the title company could deny them.

Each State’s laws that govern the practice of law has specific rights and authority as to what an Attorney can do. Since Attorney’s are considered officers of the Court, the presumption is they are acting in the best interest of their clients and the Court. Along with this authority comes greater disciplinary actions for nefarious acts.