Notary Bulletin

Revised Laws Provide Better Protection for Estate and Financial Planning

An alarming increase in financial manipulation and abuse of the elderly has inspired many states to tighten their laws pertaining to estate and financial planning, and Notaries Public play an important role in the prevention process, specifically in reference to the execution of durable power of attorney documents.

Michigan is the latest state, following suit behind Florida in 2011 and other states in 2012, to adopt these changes. Senate Bill 92 took effect as of October 1, 2012 and requires the execution of all financial power of attorney documents either be witnessed and signed by two witnesses, or notarized by a Notary Public, or both. Neither the Notary, nor the witnesses, may be named the power of attorney, and in some cases, the Notary may be granted permission to sign on behalf of the principal.

The tightening of these standards is meant to “add protection” and “reduce the risk of forged or coerced documents,” Attorney Matt Wallace of Michigan stated in a recent article on the law change.

Although all power of attorney documents executed prior to October 1, 2012 are legally binding, Notaries may see an increase in revised documents to assure acceptance by banks and other institutions going forward. Individuals are often counseled to continuously review and revise such planning documents, and this change in practice will likely inspire compliance revisions.

Notaries are encouraged to familiarize themselves with all elements of SB 92.

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Quiz: The Many Types Of Notarial Acts

Notaries perform many different duties for the public — and it’s easy to lose track of the different acts and what states they’re authorized in. Test your familiarity with common — and uncommon — notarial acts.

(A link to the correct answers is provided at the end of the quiz.)

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