This was originally published many years ago.
A tale of four notaries and their adventures at hospitals.
Hospital notarizations are very tricky and there is a lot that can go wrong. We have several resource pages regarding hospital notarizations to steer notaries away from pitfalls. The characters in this story are NOT based on real characters, but each one of them has either a single attitude or attribute that is similar to a real person that I am acquainted with. This silly story will show how each notary fared and how their way of thinking worked in the long run. The various notaries include an Arkansas notary, an Illinois notary, a Florida notary, and a Pennsylvania notary public.
(1) Jeremy Blunt, a notary in Arkansas was called to do a hospital notarization in Little Rock on the following day. Jeremy, with his blunt, but thorough manner told them, “Make sure to tell the nurses not to drug the patient within eight hours of the signing.”. The caregiver, who was happy to have a thorough notary, overlooked Jeremy’s blunt manner and was very willing to coordinate a temporary lapse in morphine, so that the signer (an elderly relative) would be able to sign the papers. Jeremy called an hour before the signing to have the caregiver read the ID information to him, and had the caregiver verify that the signer had not been drugged recently, was awake and able to conversate, and wouldn’t be drugged until after the notarization, and that the nurses had been informed. The caregiver was standing next to the bedridden signer to MAKE SURE that no intravenus drugs were given.
Jeremy arrives at the signing with his notary bag, records the ID in his journal, gets a signature in his journal and the document(s), fills out the certificate form(s), stamps them, affixes his official Arkansas notary seal, staples the documents together, and is done. Jeremy gets his fee, thanks everyone in a very blunt way, and leaves. The signers say, “That Jeremy gets the job done — he’s a bit blunt, but polite, and he saved our rear ends big time!!! That OTHER notary let us down. Thank god for good notaries!”
(2) Linda Liberty, a notary in Illinois was called to do a hospital notarization in Chicago the following day. Since she had a strict policy of not butting into anyone’s medical business, not asking questions, and minding her own business, she omitted to ask the caregiver if the signer was on medication. After, all thats NONE OF MY BUSINESS! The next day, she gets to the hospital, the caregiver says, “Thank you for coming”. Linda politely says, “Its my pleasure to serve the public wholeheartedly”. Linda goes to the hospital room where the patient / signer is. The patient is high on morphine and in a stupor, barely able to keep his eyes open. Linda says, “Sorry, but according to Illinois notary laws, I am not authorized to notarize someone who is not capable of thinking or communicating coherently. I can not notarize this person in this condition, ID or no ID. The caregiver (the daughter of the signer) said, gee, thats too bad. Linda says, my travel fee is $60 for hospitals please. The daughter says, “BUT, YOU DIDN”T DO ANYTHING”. Linda Liberty says, “Excuse me, but I drove an hour and a half here in traffic, paid a toll for the bridge, sat here talking to you for twenty minutes, paid $15 for gas, and have an hour drive home. I did quite a bit and I want to get paid!!!” The daughter said, sorry, but we can not pay you. We are very sorry.
(3) Ralph Machiavelli, a notary in Florida (no relation to Niccolo… at least not by blood), got a call to do a signing of a power of attorney in a hospital in Tampa. The power of attorney would be for the signer’s son in law to take over all of his banking and real estate transactions. Ralph had lots of experience and thought ahead. This Florida notary public had had his fingers burned a few times and knew the techniques for keeping out of trouble and getting paid. Ralph told the client that he collects a $75 travel fee at the door BEFORE he sees the signer. He, then charges $10 per for stamp for an acknowledged signature which is the maximum allowed fee in Florida. The son in law of the signer agreed, and they set the appointment for the next day at 10am.
Ralph gets to the appointment. Collects his travel fee in CASH, and says, “Thank you very much”. Lets see the signer now. The two of them proceed to walk down the long corridor, around some bends, up an elevator, down another corridor, past a nurse station, to the left, to the right, and then into a room. They found the signer was drugged, sleeping, and in no condition to sign or even talk. The son in law tried to wake the signer up. The signer eventually woke up after twenty minutes of blinking and saying, “mmmmmmm?”. Ralph said, can you ask dad to sign this form? The son in law said, I’ll try. After twenty additional minutes of wasting time (a result of the medication), the son in law said, its no use, they drugged him this morning. Maybe I have my $75 back? Ralph says, “I’m sorry, but in addition to traveling, I spent forty minutes here waiting for your signer to sign something. This was a complete waste of time. Next time please make sure your dad is ready to sign at the appointed time. That means…. NO DRUGS”. Ralph returns home with his money. He pleasures himself with a nice baby back rib dinner, and then returns home.
(4) Sharisse Washington, Pennsylvania Notary Public at large, doesn’t stand for this type of nonsense or bluntness that happened in the above three stories. She has thirty years of experience, and carries a handheld database of how to handle each situation with all its variations and pitfalls. Sharisse minds her p’s and q’s, dots her i’s and crosses her t’s. She informs everybody in a polite way, and doesn’t put herself in a position that anything will go wrong either. This notary in Pennsylvania gets a call to go to a Philadelphia hospital to do a notarization the next day. She politely asks the client if they have an ID for the signer. She asks if they could read the ID to her, so that she can verify that they have the ID, and that its current. She asks if the patient EVER recieves medication or is likely to receive it during the day of the signing. She asks if its possible that they could provide a “WINDOW OF TIME”, where they could be sure that the signer wasn’t going to be drugged. She asks what the name and type of the document is. She asks if it is in their possession and if they can read the document to her (so, she can verify that they really have it). After she asks all of the questions on her database’s check list, the cordially thanks the client for answering her questions and assures them that she will be at the hospital lobby at 10am the following day.
This Pennsylvania Notary calls at 9am to verify that they have the identification handy and that the signer is not drugged. Sharisse shows up at the hospital at 9:55 just to be on the safe side. The client is there, thanks her for being early. They go up to the room. The signer is awake, sober, and conversational. The signer signs the document and journal. Its a bit if a struggle being old and being weak, but the signer does it… because she is sober and awake… and sober…not drugged. Sharisse does all of the remaining necessary paperwork, thanks everybody, collects her fee, and is off to her next appointment which she allowed a sufficient amount of time to get to.
Now that you have read how each of these four notaries handled a hospital job, its up to you to decide how you want to handle this type of job. Remember, that hospital and jail notary jobs and many more potential pitfalls and things that can go wrong than a regular office or home notary job. Do your homework, be polite and stay out of trouble, and that way, you will be able to make a living. Otherwise, it is you who will be sorry.
You might also like:
Power of Attorney in a nursing home
Do you like your job? A story of being kept waiting forever at a hospital.