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January 21, 2012

Rules for notarizing a bedridden person

Rules for notarizing a bedridden person
I have written a lot on this topic, and posts relating to this topic are in the hospital category on the right.  There are no special notary laws for notarizing a bedridden signer. However, there are a few important things to know that are common when notarizing hospitalized or bedridden or elderly signers.
The identification must be current
A few states allow an ID to have been issued five years before the date of the notarization, when the ID technically expires four years after it was issued.  However, elderly signers will commonly have an ID that was used between Christopher Columbus’ time and the French Revolution.  If you do a signing for an elderly person (or anyone else), make sure their identification is current before you drive to that location (if you are a mobile notary). 
The patient / bedridden person must be coherent and sober
It is common for nurses to drug a patient right before the notary arrives.  Unfortunately, it is not legal to notarize someone who is so out of it that they can’t think or function.  So, if you want that notarization to happen, put the morphine on hold for now! Keep the valium in it’s syringe for now!  Additionally, if the signer can not move their arm to sign, you have a problem. If the signer can not talk enough to acknowledge that they understand the document, you are in trouble too. 
Elderly people get scammed regularly – notaries beware!

Elderly people fall prey to all types of scams, and the “nice” people who you assume are the signer’s children could be scam artists who are conning the drugged patient into signing their assets away.  The notary will (could) end up in court if someone gets scammed, so beware, and make sure the signer knows what is going on — or you (the notary) will be very sorry when the justice system hijacks you for two weeks without pay a few months or years down the road. It is not worth it!

You might also like:

Power of Attorney at a nursing home

What is Signature by X or Signature by Mark?

A tale of four Notaries at hospitals

30 Point course – hospital signings



  1. How odd, I was just reading about this tonight via Texas Legistlation. In Texas, as long as the person is of sound mind, we can notarize someone that is handicap, meaning unable to sign at their direction, we as notaries can sign and then we right an acknowledgement below it and we must have a non interested party. Interesting. Happen to go over that while studying for my Apostille.

    Comment by Amie — January 24, 2012 @ 4:17 am

  2. Beware of scams on the elderly I had about 6 different phones calls from a woman who claimed that her mother was going to sign a Power of Attorney over to her When I asked what identification she had for her mother, she said her mother didn’t have one but the DMV was coming to con home to take her photo and issue her a license (really?!) I never heard of such a thing. Anyway, when I told her I wasn’t aware of that policy by the DMV she said, “oh yeah, I did that with my father (red flag for me). I then told her to be on the safe side I needed 2 witnesses who knew her mother for five years or more, she said, “no problem”. Then she cancelled the appointment for that day and then called again the next day, I told her the same thing and I asked where her mother’s ID was and she said her brother had it, I asked if she could get that ID, she said her brother and her were not on speaking terms, (another red flag), I put her off and she called again, this time it sounded she had a hangover. At this point it smelled too fishy and I pt her off until she stopped calling. BEWARE THERE ARE ALL KINDS

    Comment by Sylvia — November 11, 2012 @ 8:47 pm

  3. Another suspecting notarization I had was, one night around 11:45 pm in the evening a male called and asked that I notarize a letter within the hour. The letter was permission to take a child out of the country-, in the baqck someone was saying something to him and he was saying shh-shh, I didn’t like the sound and so I went with my instinct and when he asked how much I charged I told him $100.00, he said he would call back and never did call back. Thank goodness Be careful for possible abductions.

    Comment by Sylvia — November 11, 2012 @ 8:55 pm

  4. We cant notarize for a person who has taken a narcotic during the last 12 hours which is impossible to ascertain being that nurses cannot tell you what they are taking, family members will be unreliable. They also lie. Their only care is getting what they want notarized and will say anything. Being a nurse also, I can tell you that nurses do not run and medicate someone when they know the notary is coming, however it may have been coincidental that they were just medicated. Even when I ask a family member to read me the expiration date on a DL or ID card, they lie. Going to a hospital or any facility is something I have given up years ago because of the probability of huge liability for me.

    Comment by Dan — January 5, 2014 @ 6:38 am

  5. Additional notes section in your journal will require exhaustive notes. Documenting everything you did to ascertain what medications they were taking, whether is was narcotic or not, or if you have the ability to know the difference. Documenting that they were oriented to time date and place, that you met with the person alone-no one else present, or if they could converse with you about the papers they were signing, and that you asked them if they were being forced or coerced by anyone etc etc etc. Doing a good deed is one thing and to a point only, but when I consider the liability and how lawyers can twist everything all up if it culminated in a case, I/d rather have a root canal than notarize for someone in a facility. These things should have been addressed earlier.

    Comment by Dan — January 8, 2014 @ 2:54 pm

  6. The basis of the article is important information for new notaries and a reminder for everyone. But I have some issues with the added attempt of humor and some generalizations that “ALL” nurses drug their patients.

    First the reference to the ID of elderly patients, “elderly signers will commonly have an ID that was used between Christopher Columbus’ time and the French Revolution”, unprofessional, disrespectful and not amusing.

    The second, “It is common for nurses to drug a patient right before the notary arrives”, and So, if you want that notarization to happen, put the morphine on hold for now! Keep the Valium in it’s syringe for now! The social workers and nurses I know do their very best to have the patients alert and functioning for the arrival of a Notary. They are doing everything possible for a patients last wishes to be carried out, which includes preparing the patient and the family with the perimeters needed to complete the requested paperwork.

    And last, “Additionally, if the signer can not move their arm to sign, you have a problem. If the signer can not talk enough to acknowledge that they understand the document, you are in trouble too.” Most states have alternative ways to carry out a signing if the patient is deaf, mute, disabled. That just means the Notary needs to know how to do their job.

    Just my opinion, I take my job very seriously and don’t find anything humorous about it.

    Comment by Robin — December 28, 2014 @ 9:56 pm

  7. I recently had to walk away from a notarization in an assisted living facility (which I go to on a regular basis)…the grandson wouldn’t let me talk privately with the grandfather ….I always insist I talk to the signer alone to make sure they are aware of what they are signing and not being coerced….

    The grandfather was unaware of what was going on and the grandson was belligerent…..

    Comment by Marie McNeely — October 11, 2016 @ 4:55 pm

  8. My question is I have not had a driver’s license now for 7yrs now after living
    with MUltiple Sclerosis for 27yrst..What our the reasons I need to have a I’D card for I am bedridden
    for my leg muscle no ?longer work and between my his work hours & lack of money I can not get t The proper work outs that I nsed. Thank You for listening. to me I just miss my independence

    Comment by Loretta Watson — September 17, 2018 @ 3:12 am

  9. This is all good info. My grandma just passed and grandfather passed in 2004 and right at that point my aunt was trying to steal my grandmother’s land. We had no clue till my grandma passed away.she had her best friend and my uncles girlfriend notarize papers seven days after major stroke could not speak or move arm. but she did it anyways without the knowledge of staff knowing. I’m wanting to file charges on both but I don’t know who ,what or if I can file charges since she passed away

    Comment by Robbie Gallegos — October 15, 2018 @ 2:44 am

  10. I had a poa notarized in 2018 but when I presented it to the bank I was told that because on line did not have my moms name on it they could not accept it. They told me to get another one or have my mom put her name there, She is now in the third stage of dementia and I do not know if she capable of doing that. The next thing they told me was to get in touch with the notary that did it and ask her what to do next. I am so upset. I have been using this POA for 2 years and it was never a problem, now that I am taking over the finances does their legal dept give me problems, What do I do next?

    Comment by cathie Heflin — June 17, 2020 @ 9:48 pm

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