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Notary Bulletin

Notarizing Healthcare Powers Of Attorney

Healthcare powers of attorney are critical documents for signers, and state rules vary greatly regarding how the document must be signed, witnessed or notarized. A healthcare power of attorney allows a person (known as the “principal”) to authorize another individual (sometimes called an “agent”) to make health care decisions on the principal’s behalf if the principal is unable to do so.

Many — but not all — states require healthcare powers of attorney to be notarized. Some require the document to be signed in the presence of one or more witnesses instead. Washington state’s Department of Health recommends having a healthcare power of attorney document notarized even if not required by law, because notarization will help ensure the document is honored if the signer is incapacitated while traveling in another state. “Witnessing and/or notarization are also important as evidence to help confirm that you are competent,” according to the Washington Web site.

If you are asked to notarize a healthcare power of attorney, check with your Notary-regulating office, the Attorney General’s office or Department of Health for any specific document signing restrictions. For example, Arizona requires durable healthcare powers of attorney to be signed in the presence of at least one adult witness or Notary Public who is 18 or older. Arizona also prohibits using a witness or Notary who is related to the signer, involved in providing the signer’s health care, or who would be appointed as the signer’s representative or entitled to any part of signer’s estate. Ohio has similar provisions, prohibiting attending physicians or nursing home administrators from witnessing a power of attorney.

5 Comments

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Edna Garcia

06 May 2020

Medical Power of Attorney

Chandra Burnette

28 Jan 2021

I realize the witness can't work for the doctor's office, but is it ok that the notary does?

National Notary Association

29 Jan 2021

Hello. To help us answer your question, can you please confirm what state you are commissioned in?

Chandra Burnette

29 Jan 2021

SC

National Notary Association

29 Jan 2021

Hello. In South Carolina, “A notary may not perform a notarial act if the … notary is a signer of, party to, or beneficiary of the record that is to be notarized. A disqualification pursuant to this item does not apply to an employee of a court within the unified judicial system, a notary who is named in a record solely as the trustee in a deed of trust, the drafter of the record, the person to whom a registered document must be mailed or sent after recording, or the attorney for a party to the record, so long as the notary is not also a party to the record individually or in some other representative or fiduciary capacity” (SCC 26-1-90[C][3]). “A notary may not perform a notarial act if the … notary will receive directly from a transaction connected with the notarial act any commission, fee, advantage, right, title, interest, cash, property, or other consideration exceeding in value the fees specified in Section 26-1-100, other than fees or other consideration paid for services rendered by a licensed attorney, a licensed real estate broker or salesperson, a motor vehicle dealer, or a banker” (SCC 26-1-90[C][4]). In situations where it is not clear if a Notary has a beneficial interest in the notarization, Article II-C-1 of The Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibility recommends: "The Notary shall decline to perform a notarial act in any transaction that would impugn or compromise, or create the appearance of impugning or compromising, the Notary’s impartiality."

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