Certain documents frequently require witnesses, such as a will or healthcare directive. In some states, witnesses are required when signing a deed or mortgage; occasionally witnesses are needed on other documents such as a power of attorney.

Before you schedule your appointment, take a look at your document to see if there are places for witnesses to sign. If so, it is in your best interest to ask a couple of friends or neighbors if they can assume the role. (Your notary can bring independent witnesses to your signing appointment for a fee if you can’t find anyone.)

Witnesses should be aged 18 or older, not be blood relatives of the signer, and must not be anyone named in or who may benefit from the documents being signed. They should be prepared to present a valid ID and will attest to having witnessed the signer sign of their own free will, appearing to be of sound mind.

Witnesses play an important role in that they reinforce the validity and authenticity of the document should a dispute arise. It is a simple yet valuable act of service.