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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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May 20, 2018

Tips for avoiding liability with the elderly

Filed under: Hospital & Jail Signings — Tags: — admin @ 9:37 am

Elder Notarizations

If you are a Mobile Notary, you will undoubtedly get calls from people in hospitals, convalescent homes, and jails. The problem with jail signings used to be lock downs and the lack of an acceptable ID. I’m not sure if ID rules have changed or jail practices have changed in the mean time because I keep hearing rumors that there is some formal jail ID card now.

But, the problem with elder notary hospital signings are different. Here are my points and recommendations for notarizing the elderly and bed-ridden.

1. Read the ID over the phone
Not all elderly people have an ID, and not all have a current identification. Have someone read the identification information and expiration date to you over the phone. That way you will know that they:
(a) Have an ID
(b) Can find the ID
(c) That it reads a name that proves the name on the document (which should already have been drafted)
(d) That the identification for notary work has not expired.

2. Ask if the signer will be drugged within several hours of the notarization.
If the signer is not sober, you should decline to notarize, and let the family of the hospitalized person know that your travel fee is paid in cash at the door. If you feel for any reason that it is not prudent to notarize the signer, that you will walk out for reasons pertaining to legal liability. Here are some reasons to decline service.

(a) The signer is sleeping

(b) The signer communicates incoherently or in a tone you cannot clearly understand.

(c) The signer cannot orally summarize the document in a way that makes you feel sure they understand what they are signing.

(d) The signer has been drugged recently perhaps with morphine.

(e) The signer cannot sign their name. If you know how to do a signature by X procedure that might be a substitute, but check your state laws and procedures before doing a signature by Mark or X.

(f) The signer cannot sit up or move their arm to sign.

If there is a problem with a hospital notarization, it is better to find out before you get in your car. Have the family communicate with the signer, have the signer practice signing a blank piece of paper with the family before you commit to an appointment. There is a lot that can go wrong, so try to anticipate common problems and solve them before you drive over.

3. Legal liability
If you notarize for a person who is bed-ridden, the chances of the transaction ending up in court are at least twenty times as high as for loan signings, so you should charge a lot more for hospital notarizations due to the unseen costs of doing business, not to mention the waiting time and other inconveniences. If you are a sloppy Notary, I would suggest not doing hospital notarizations at all as they will come back to you and your sloppily kept or not kept journal will be the only thing that will save you or not save you in court. Here are some things that can go wrong at hospital notary jobs that can get you in trouble.

(a) The signer claims that they were tricked into signing something that gave their money away.

(b) The signer may be conscious when you are doing the signing, but afterwards might not remember signing something.

(c) Someone might investigate and question whether the signer really signed the document or really knew what they were doing.

(d) Someone might questions the identity of the person who actually signed. That is why I kept thumbprints. However thumbprints for the elderly often are like tires with no tread which makes them hard to differentiate.

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You might also like:

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

A tale of 4 notaries at hospitals
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=463

Do you like your job? A story of being kept waiting forever at a hospital.
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=617

Hospital Notary job tips from A to Z
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=76

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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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November 24, 2010

Signature By X

Signature by X — Signature by Mark
Many notaries go through their entire career without understanding the necessity and importance of the Signature by X / Signature by Mark procedure  (Notarizing an X). If you have ever done a hospital signing, or signing for elderly, you might be accutely aware of the limitations that a signer has in tasks we take for granted.  Many elderly signers with physical disabilities can not even sign their own name, or more their own arm with any coordination.  This necessitates signature by X procedures.
 
What is Signature by X?
Signature by X is where the signer being notarized signs an X instead of a regular signature.
(1) You need two subscribing witnesses who witness the signature by X.
(2) The signer signs an X in your journal and on the document.
(3) Witness one signs the person’s first name in the document and journal
(4) Witness two signs the persons middle and last names in the document and journal.
(5) Document the ID’s and signatures of the witnesses in the document and journal
(6) Keep in mind that this is a very unusual notary procedure and is tricky.
 
Be careful!
If you have ever done a hospital signing, the signer could be drugged, may not have current ID, or may have overly zealous relatives who move the patient’s arm to get them to sign their name. This is not acceptable. The signer must sign their own name.  Arms of others may be used as braces to limit the motion of the patient’s arm, but you may not actually move the signer’s arm around, otherwise that is like forgery — well intentioned forgery — which is still illegal.
 
Subscribing witnesses?
What is a subscribing witness?  Anyone who witnesses someone signing by X is a subscribing witness.  They sign the document and the journal.  In California, one witness signs the signer’s first name and the other signer signs the signer’s last and milddle name (if there is one ). Its good to create documentation to accompany the document as to what this odd procedure is, since it is uncommon and looks strange.  Its prudent to indicate the subscribing witnesses names on the actual document and that they witnessed the signature by X.
 
Comprehension
When notarizing the elderly, make sure they understand the document. The last thing you want is to end up in court because an elderly person has been defrauded out of their life savings with paperwork notarized by you.  Make sure the signer has read all the documents.  Elderly people get scammed much more than the rest of us simply because they are more vulnerable and less on the ball, especially when they are regularly drugged in a hospital.
 
Related Terms:
http://www.123notary.com/glossary/?subscribing-witness
http://www.123notary.com/glossary/?signature-by-mark

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Where do credible witnesses sign the notary journal book?
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Notary Public 101 – a free notary course
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19493

Notarizing the elderly – do more digging to be sure it is legit
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=20038

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