THE NOTARY SHALL ACT AS AN IMPARTIAL WITNESS AND NOT PROFIT OR GAIN FROM ANY DOCUMENT OR TRANSACTION REQUIRING A NOTARIAL ACT, APART FROM THE FEE ALLOWED BY STATUTE.
Impartiality is crucial to ensure the integrity of notarized documents. Notarial acts are trusted because Notaries serve as unbiased, third-party witnesses who verify a signer’s identity and willingness. That’s why it is so important Notaries avoid even the appearance of bias when performing their duties, and why impartiality is the cornerstone of Guiding Principle II of The Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibility.
Rules governing Notary Public impartiality help protect the transaction from improper influence. For example, a Notary might be tempted to compromise ethics if asked to notarize a document that provided the Notary with some kind of financial or other benefit. It would be even more difficult, if not impossible, for a Notary to maintain impartiality if asked to notarize a document that specifically names the Notary in a transaction.
Trust in a Notary’s fairness in impartiality is a cornerstone of the notarial technique — and that is why it is important that Notaries avoid even the appearance of potential self-interest when notarizing signatures on documents.
Even the appearance of impartiality can cause problems with a document. State laws do not always forbid a Notary from notarizing a document for a spouse, parent or other close relative, but this doesn’t stop someone from calling the Notary’s impartiality in to query if the document is challenged in court. That is why the Code urges Notaries to decline to notarize in any transaction that may call in to query the Notary’s propriety — even if allowed by state law.