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December 4, 2016

Power of Attorney – Notary Processing Mistakes

Playing Lawyer

You’re going there to notarize, that’s what you do. The caller asked you to bring some blank copies of a “standard” Power of Attorney. I think not. There many different formats to the Power of Attorney document. Selecting, as when you provide a document; could probably be interpreted as the Illegal Practice of Law. You don’t know their requirements, but you happen to have some documents titled Power of Attorney – a recipe for disaster. We notarize upon proof and oath; it’s their responsibility to know what they are signing. That applies to Principal, Agent, Monitor and Successor Agent.

Fuzzy Job Specifications

I need my signature notarized on a Power of Attorney form. Do you accept that sole statement? Does the caller have the form(s)? Is the caller the Principal granting the powers? Will there be Agent(s) and Successor Agent(s). You probably inquired about the ID that will be presented by the caller – but do you know anything about the ID status of others to be notarized? Will all parties be present when you arrive, or will there be a lengthy wait for a tardy Agent? The caller mentioned “a” Power of Attorney form, that’s true enough – but are ten more duplicates awaiting you? Did you schedule this as a “quick one” with your next assignment very soon?

Accepting Risk

You want to avoid accepting risk. One tool is having the assignment prepaid. A more important tool is communication with your client. Stress that the signature(s) of the Principal, Agent and Successor Agent must have proper supporting ID, and that the name on the ID must match the name to be notarized on the Power of Attorney. I make it very clear: “If any person to be notarized has an ID issue that precludes notarization; you will get my sincere regrets, but not a refund”. Hospital jobs have access concerns when the Principal is the patient.

Not Sharing your Knowledge

Many are new to using a Power of Attorney. They often assume a photocopy will be accepted and that they need only one original. That is often not the case. Offer duplicates for a modest fee. Blank areas might require a N/A. Use your embosser – it’s required to submit the document to Federal Courts, and might be required if the document leaves the state where notarized. Clients can forget that most Power of Attorney documents require the authority of Agent, and Successor Agent to be specified. This is usually done by the Principal initialing various “right granting” sections giving authority to one or more Agents, and, or, Successor Agents – easy to overlook.

It’s also easy to overlook the “Separately” initial area. When there is more than one Agent or Successor Agent; the common document default is that they must act in unison. Often, the independent ability of these agents is desired; this requires initials in the appropriate area.

Disorderly Processing

In our signings we complete one document then move on to the next one. Processing a stack of identical Power of Attorney documents is best handled differently. I prefer the “same thing over and over” approach. An entry on the first copy is propagated to the remaining copies. Then the next entry is made in a similar manner. This is easier for all involved as they, after the first two or three; are “familiar” with “what goes where”. After ID checking, and notary oath administration(s) – the notarizations can proceed in a similar manner. Mentally tie to giving the oath asking the affiants if they returned their ID to a safe place. This avoids being called to return their ID when they misplaced it – this happened to me a few times.

The Introduction to the Power of Attorney, New York Statutory Short Form

CAUTION TO THE PRINCIPAL: Your Power of Attorney is an important document. As the “principal,” you give the person whom you choose (your “agent”) authority to spend your money and sell or dispose of your property during your lifetime without telling you. You do not lose your authority to act even though you have given your agent similar authority.

When your agent exercises this authority, he or she must act according to any instructions you have provided or, where there are no specific instructions, in your best interest. “Important Information for the Agent” at the end of this document describes your agent’s responsibilities.

Your agent can act on your behalf only after signing the Power of Attorney before a notary public.

You can request information from your agent at any time. If you are revoking a prior Power of Attorney, you should provide written notice of the revocation to your prior agent(s) and to any third parties who may have acted upon it, including the financial institutions where your accounts are located.

You can revoke or terminate your Power of Attorney at any time for any reason as long as you are of sound mind. If you are no longer of sound mind, a court can remove an agent for acting improperly.

Your agent cannot make health care decisions for you. You may execute a “Health Care Proxy” to do this.

If there is anything about this document that you do not understand, you should ask a lawyer of your own choosing to explain it to you

Have you asked the Principal, Agent, Monitor, and Successor Agent – if they have read and understood the disclosures, usually on the first page of the Power of Attorney document?

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You might also like:

How do you get a Power of Attorney Document?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=20785

Index of posts about Power of Attorney
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=20255

Index of information about documents
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=20258

Penalties for Notary misconduct, fraud and failure of duty
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=21315

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1 Comment »

  1. This article was an excellent choice to speak on. I have been called to notarize Powers of Attorney, mainly at hospitals or Veterans Hospitals. I generally request the caller to provide their own power of attorney and have 2 witnesses available.

    I was once asked to notarize a power of attorney for a person who identified himself as the only friend of the patient and I refused to do it. Also, if I an commissioned to notarize at a hospital, I generally will generally find out from the nurse or doctor if the patient is “lucid” enough to sign (whether they are on any medication that hinders their ability, etc. I have had no problem with this so far.

    Good article.

    Comment by Rosalee Redmond-Talley — December 16, 2016 @ 4:56 pm

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