The American Association of Notaries (AAN) recently posted an article about notarizing documents in nursing homes. The articles primary anecdote involved a nursing facility worker, notary and AAN member who notarized a document for a patient at the facility where she worked. Later, the patient disavowed any memory of having signed the document, and the patient’s family questioned whether the document had been executed and notarized correctly.
Much of the article dealt with knowing a signer’s mental state and capacity before notarizing for them. Yet the article acknowledged that the average notary is not trained to do this. And most notaries are not comfortable with interviewing and evaluating the mental capacity of a signer before she executes a document. Additionally, not many notaries travel to locations such as a hospital or nursing home, and most nursing homes do not allow their staff to notarize for patients.
Almost every aspect of dealing with an elderly client differs in some significant way from dealing with a younger or healthier population, and document notarization is no different. A notary notarizing documents for elderly individuals must be prepared to deal with the potentially limited capacity of the signer. The attorneys at Wyatt & Gracey, PC are also notaries. We make it a point to visit our clients in the hospital or nursing home for at least one initial visit, and an attorney goes over important documents with the client before the client signs them. There are various degrees of competency one must posses and demonstrate to sign different legal documents, and all of our attorneys are trained to evaluate and consider the capacity of the client to execute the specific documents presented.