A document witness is an individual who watches another individual sign a document. Usually, state law specifies when document witnesses are required.
For example, in some states, a deed or mortgage related to real property must have witnesses present when someone signs before it can be recorded. In many jurisdictions, powers of attorney may require one or more witnesses to be present at the signing. Witnesses typically sign the document as well.
Witnesses to these documents are typically not notaries — they are usually private individuals:
- In some cases, notaries can serve as document witnesses in addition to notarizing a document.
- However, some states expressly prohibit this.
Depending on the requirements for the document being signed:
- Witnesses may need to be at least 18 years of age.
- Close relatives might be prohibited from being a witness.
- More than one witness may be needed.
- Witnesses can use a non-U.S. ID if they are co-located with the signer(s) and using the same device.
- Consumers: What if My Document Needs a Witness?
- Business: Require a Witness
- Real Estate: Require a Witness on a Real Estate Transaction
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