Your Cookies are Disabled! sets cookies on your computer to help improve performance and provide a more engaging user experience. By using this site, you accept the terms of our cookie policy. Learn more.

Notarizing for elderly signers

Notarizing for elderly signers article

Updated 12-15-23. Older signers often have medical or physical conditions that make it hard to complete a notarization for them and put them at greater risk of fraud. But the following tips can help make notarizing for a senior proceed more smoothly:

1. Choose a time when the signer is relaxed and coherent.
2. Talk with the signer to help you make sure they are alert and aware.
3. Tell the signer what you do as the Notary.
4. Ask the signer to describe what they are signing.
5. Observe how other people present behave.

1. Choose a time when the signer is relaxed and coherent. 

Try to arrange the appointment with family members or caregivers ahead of time, to ensure that you don’t show up when the signer is agitated, tired or otherwise in distress. The signer’s attention should be focused on you and on the task at hand.

2. Talk with the signer to help make sure they are alert and aware. 

Having a short conversation with the signer can help put him or her at ease. It can also help you gauge the patient’s awareness. Ask questions about the patient’s interests, current events, or any other topics that require some measure of understanding in order to respond.

3. Tell the signer what you do as a Notary.

While it is never your job to offer advice, you should take the time to explain your role as a third-party witness to the document transaction, and that it is your job to properly identify the signers and make sure they know what it is they are signing. Having a clear understanding about the process can help ease the signer’s anxiety.

4. Ask the signer to describe what they are signing. 

A good way of gauging a signer’s awareness is to simply have them repeat back to you what it is they are signing. If they are unable to do so, this may be a sign that they are not aware, and simply going through the motions.

5. Observe how other people present behave. 

If the patient’s family or caregivers are present, be on the lookout for any signs that might indicate that they are coercing the patient to sign the paperwork, especially if they have any vested interest in the documents being signed, such as a financial power of attorney.

In some cases, just taking the time to introduce yourself and explaining your role as a Notary first may help put an older signer at ease. However, if you have a reasonable concern about the signer’s awareness and willingness, you should halt the notarization at once and record in your journal the reason for stopping the notarization.

Related Articles:

A Notary's role in preventing elder financial exploitation


Add your comment

Frieda Hooper

20 Aug 2018

can't see it

National Notary Association

21 Aug 2018

Hello. If you are having technical issues viewing an article, please contact us at with a description of the problem and we will try to assist you.

Saundra Williams

20 Aug 2018

My mom is now 93 years old with arthritis and gout in both hands. Consequently, her signature has changed drastically from when she first signed bank and other documents. Is there something special that need be done in situations such as these where the signature provided will look entirely different than it previously did?

National Notary Association

21 Aug 2018

Hello. In this case, you should speak with an attorney if you have concerns that your mother's signature or physical condition may affect the legality of a document.

Irene Villarreal

20 Aug 2018

Thank you for the information

Ana Villarreal

20 Aug 2018

Great info thank you

Colleen Ebanks Shippey

23 Aug 2018

This is valuable information. Thanks


28 Sep 2020

And fast forward 9 years! Re: 'Updated 9-21-29'. :)

National Notary Association

30 Sep 2020

Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We've corrected the typo in the date.

raymond torraca

18 Oct 2021

Good information...we should consider this info as being useful for all actions...remember what we do..........RT

Lorraine Pereverziev

10 Oct 2022

With regard to coercion by family or others, I have had 3 occasions now where I have had to have these persons leave the room so that I could converse with the signer to be sure they are signing of their own free will and volition, and that they are clear as to the purpose of what they are doing. Elder abuse is real and present in far too many cases (which is why remote notarizations worry me to death - what's going on outside of the camera's view?). We are the last line of defense against fraud and it behooves us to be aware and diligent. After all, it's our commission's that's on the line here and not being careful could cost us our livelihood - not to mention the loss of property of a signer. I don't want to have to carry that burden the rest of my life.

Stella Smith

01 Jan 2024

Signer awareness and willingness to sign regarding Senior is very worthy information. Senior fraud is active more times than one would expect. Protecting the elderly and protecting your normalization essential S a Notary

Leave a Comment

Required *

All comments are reviewed and if approved, will display.