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November 21, 2018

12 questions to ask for hospital notarizations

I get calls frequently for Notarizations in Jails and Hospitals.
This blog will focus on things you must do to protect yourself from lawsuits and damages when you get a desperate call to go out to a hospital to notarize documents to be signed by a patient, moistly a Power of Attorney. The phone call invariably comes from the child who has a parent admitted to the hospital.
What do you do as the Notary when the person calling says they will pay you whatever you charge as your mobile fee? Remember Rule #1: It is not always about the money. It is about your ability to follow the Notary laws and perform your job without taking short cuts.
The following list of questions is a short summary of the steps I have actually taken when I got such a call.

1. What is your relationship to the patient?
2. Do you have any other siblings or relatives who have a beneficial interest in the transaction?
3. Is the patient conscious? Coherent? On any medication?
4. Does the patient have a current valid ID with him or can you make it available when the notary arrives at the hospital?
5. Is the patient able to sign his name without any help?
6. Does the patient speak English and can he understand and answer simple questions coherently?
7. Does the patient have an attending physician and a Nurse assigned to him?
8. Do you have the number to the attending physician and nurse because I need to talk to them to get an accurate idea of the health and overall condition of the patient?
9. When can I talk to the patient directly by phone with a nurse present in the room?
10. What type of document are you having notarized?
11. What dates and times work for the patient?
12. My mobile fees are _____ and $15/signature notarized. After I get there if I make the determination that the person is unable to understand anything I ask him or is being forced to sign, I will not be able to notarize the document but will still charge you my mobile fee for coming out based on your representations over the phone. Are you okay with that because I don’t want to get into any arguments after I get there?

Believe me there has been more than one occasion I can recall where I had to leave without notarizing a document because the patient was unable to understand anything I asked, was incoherent and simply could not sign or even hold a pen to just mark an “X”. It is better to walk away from a Notarization where you know instinctively that it is wrong because the signer is not aware of what he is signing and inevitably you will end up being a party to a litigation by interested parties who believe that the Notary failed to take into account the coherence and soundness of mind of the signer at the time of the Notarization. This would invalidate your notarization and worse yet force you to pay legal expenses to defend yourself. Is it worth it? Absolutely not!


You might also like:

The carrot, the stick, the notary, and the bag

When to ask for ID over the phone & fees at the door

A tale of four notaries at hospitals

Hospital Notary jobs from A to Z


1 Comment »

  1. I am not a big fan of hospital signings, lots of sick people there. Potentially getting sick for $50.00, is not a great idea, though I have done it many times.

    I frequently get “emergency” calls for notarizations. The person on the phone indicates they need a power of attorney and it is an emergency because the person may not live much longer. I try to be sensitive because these poor folks are often thrust into an emotionally tough situation. They do not know what to do and someone told them to get a power of attorney right away. I ask if they know that the document’s effectiveness ends when the person passes. Some folks feel a power of attorney is like a will. I ask if the person has a will. A will in Oregon does not need to be notarized, it just needs two witnesses, so I am essentially talking them-out of a use for my services. I do not feel I am giving legal advice because this is common knowledge or at least available with a simple Google search.

    If they are convinced they still need a power of attorney, I ask if the person will understand what they are signing, will they be able to sign their name, do they have current ID with them, and does the form they have requires witnesses? I tell them my fee upfront and that I expect to be paid whether the document is executed or not. Social workers (bless their heart!) are famous for providing legal documents like power of attorney forms. I do not know why they are not concerned about giving legal advice, but that is a “service” they offer. The POA they provide is something they found on the internet and is several pages in length, requires numerous initials, the acceptance of the appointment, AND TWO WITNESSES. Doctors, hospital staff and even social workers are generally not allowed to act as witnesses, and of course close family members are not allowed to be witnesses either, so the witness requirement places a hefty burden on someone attempting to get a power of attorney executed. Each state has their own rules for documents like these and in Oregon witnesses are not required for a power of attorney. If they use that form and do not have witnesses filled-in, someone receiving that document will refuse it, saying the form is not complete. Since they already indicate the form they wish to use, I recommend they invest $10.00 and purchase a legal form from a vendor who specializes in legal forms for Oregon, which does not require witnesses. I do not provide any forms. I do not feel this is giving legal advice either, simply indicating a resource for a document they already indicate they need. I know of a local notary who sells legal forms. I wonder if they are in violation for practicing law.

    Comment by Rick Phillips — January 9, 2019 @ 7:41 pm

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