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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

You might also like:

Where do credible witnesses sign the notary journal book?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2508

How much can a notary charge for swearing in a witness
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2447

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