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July 13, 2017

Making half notarized POA photocopy valid

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — admin @ 9:51 am

Making half notarized POA photocopy valid
The Initial Call – Someone please leave a comment and let me know that I’m not the only one. I get a constant stream of “Gotcha’s”. It was a hospital POA assignment – should be routine. But, similar to a plaintiff withholding key information from their attorney; my clients often fail to mention things, even when I ask. This time, after the usual screening questions (ID, availability, rational, etc.); I get a new surprise when I arrive.

Educating The Client – After arriving at a fee for the described work (in this case one POA and one Health Care Proxy); I cover the Use of the POA. Most clients don’t realize that it is a “surrender upon use” not a “show and retain” document. Eg: When the bank allows use of a Power of Attorney to open a safe deposit box, they will retain the Original “wet signed” / embossed document. Note that I wrote “embossed document” I did not write the word “copy”. IMHO a photocopy of a notarized document is not itself a notarized document. Perhaps that is why you cannot FAX or email a deed to be recorded. But, again I stray – old age? So, I describe the surrender of the POA and ask if several POA’s might be what is needed.

Client Delighted – Armed with new knowledge, the client now wants a few additional Power of Attorney documents to be processed. I admonish (perhaps too strong a word) the client to duplicate the single POA to make the desired number of unsigned copies, prior to signatures or initialing. Will do they respond, and we agree upon a reasonable “up fee” for the additional work. Client made PayPal payment for first two documents and the additional fee will be cash on site.

At the Hospital – I arrive to find one Health Care Proxy, and a total of five Power of Attorney documents. But, to my surprise the “Agent” (my employer) had already been notarized prior to the Principal (the patient in the hospital). That has never happened in the several centuries I have been doing this. Thus the client has four photocopies of the POA – with the notarization of the Agent; not good. Many would probably just continue and notarize the signature of the Principal – using proper procedures. That would result in one valid Power of Attorney and four “half valid” copies as they do not have original Agent signatures or notarizations.

Making it Right – Clearly on the four Power of Attorney documents with the photocopy of the signature / notary – the signature of the Agent and notarization must be redone. I break out my “Acknowledgement in a Stamp” and find “clear space”. I have the Agent sign again, this time using blue ink. I complete the new Acknowledgement and also emboss it (as is my custom with any notarization). It did look slightly “odd”. The Agent was notarized in two different counties on the same day on the same document. I told my client if necessary to explain why, on the four copies a new notarization was required should anyone ask.

Wrap Up – The public has many misconceptions about notarizations, many thinking a photocopy is equivalent to an original. Few who have never used Power of Attorney documents realize that they are surrendered (usually) upon use. These are not “Legal Advice” issues as they are not specific to anyone; certainly not my client. Taking the time to share knowledge, and making the work totally acceptable – define us as dedicated and professional civil commission holders.

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