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July 31, 2018

Notarizing the elderly — do more digging to be sure it is legit

There are many people who prey on the elderly. Elderly people need help and cannot always get it. Perhaps their family no longer talks to them, or is far away. Perhaps they have no family. Those who seem like they are family members or “helping” the elderly might be scam artists.

If you are notarizing for an elderly person, you need to check out the people who are helping. Here are some things you should find out.

1. What is your relationship to the signer? What is your name?
2. Why are you having this document signed? What is it about?
3. How does it benefit the signer?

This is a little nosy, but Notaries end up in court a lot in elder signings, so perhaps it is better to be suspicious up front to discourage the others from defrauding others.

You might indicate in your journal who the helpers are. This is not required, but if you have ID information for the helpers, that could help catch them in the off chance you are investigated. Also, nobody who is doing something illegal wants their ID recorded in a Notary journal. They might back off. The point of all of this extra work is to discourage people from getting you in a position where you will have to end up in court.

If when asking the helpers questions about their relationship with the signer, why they are helping, etc., you can see if they flinch or are awkward. I am not an investigator and do not know how liars act, but you might find them to be very uncomfortable if you start digging. Be polite in your digging and explain that many elder signings end up in court and that you want to make sure that nothing will go wrong.

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You might also like:

Notarizing documents for the elderly
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=3334

How do I do a signature by X Notarization
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=18791

When to ask for ID over the phone & fees at the door
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=15282

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August 27, 2012

Notarizing Documents for the Elderly

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”]

Tweets:
(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
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2305

Dragging the person’s arm: A signing for an elderly woman
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=610

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