Notarizing for the elderly: Making a difference
Notarizing documents for the elderly can sometimes be a precarious task. At best, it can also be very rewarding, a chance to save senior citizens from poor medical or financial decisions. Some of our notaries have recently done a great service by scrupulously looking out for this fragile population and speaking out in order to protect them.
A California notary tells us, “I was going to a signing, and I really didn’t have any information about the borrower. The caregiver for the elderly man answered the door, and said ‘Are you aware that Mr. Jones has Alzheimer’s? He thinks you are here to give him $3000. He was cleaning the house all night to impress you.’ Apparently, someone had called him from an Internet company and had gotten him to do the loan. The care attendant said she would have to call the man’s son. I left the loan documents with the man, and immediately called the loan officer. I said, ‘This man’s son has a power of attorney. If I hear of this man signing these documents himself, I will turn you in.’ I never heard from them again,” sighs the California notary, who knows to this day she provided an unanticipated service for Mr. Jones.
Another California notary from Oakland tells a similar story: he came to notarize a refinance, but the woman who owned the home did not want to sign. It turned out that the ‘relative’ who was claiming to have a valid power of attorney was not even related to the homeowner…but had somehow persuaded the lender that she had a POA–and was planning to drain $20,000 from the home and then put the woman in a nursing home. The notary got a bad feeling about all this when he first called to confirm the signing. The old woman confided in the notary her unwillingness to sign, and the notary, on a hunch, called the authorities. They arrested the “relative”…and an actual relative was called upon to assist. Luckily, the equity in the home remained intact, and our notary was very pleased. “It was just lucky that I realized what was going on,” he says, “and made the call. Some people might say it wasn’t any of my business. A notary actually is taken quite seriously as a ‘reporter’ in cases like this. I was glad I did what I did,” says our California notary.
“One man thought he was getting back $400 more on his loan than he actually did. When we went over the paperwork, he actually started crying. I was able to explain things to him, but he chose to call the lender and delay the closing…although he did end up closing that week. The lender did something for him, made some deal with him that made him feel better. Many elderly people feel they are being taken advantage of, and many are in a position of weakness. I see a lot of happy, wealthy elderly, some who own several houses in several parts of the country. I also see a lot of poor people who are elderly and who never recovered from 2008,” says one Hawaii notary with relatives in California. “We are trying to do more to protect them.”
A Hawaii notary in Honolulu who does a lot of notary work with the elderly tells us, “Sometimes at a hospital signing I have to determine whether or not the person knows what he or she is signing. I ask the person’s name and I keep asking questions. If the person does not know what he or she is signing, I leave.” Our astute young Hawaii notary adds, “There are lots of times there is a doubt as to the competence of the person, and you really have to be very sure. Your have to protect their interests. That is why it is good that California, for instance, just passed a new law regarding notarizing a power of attorney.” [see blog June 3 2012 “A New California Notary Law”]
(1) Notarizing documents for the elderly can sometimes be a precarious task; at best very rewarding
(2) “Are you aware that Mr. Jones (the signer) has Alzeimers? He thinks ur here to give him $3000!”
(3) Many elderly signers feel they are being taken advantage of, and that they have a weakness.
You might also like:
Power of Attorney at a nursing home
Dragging the person’s arm: A signing for an elderly woman