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How To Handle Representative Signers

If a patient is unable to sign documents due to a medical condition, a representative may be appointed through the court or a power of attorney document to sign documents on the patient’s behalf. Here are some important points to remember when notarizing for a signer acting on behalf of another party.

When notarizing, only the signer’s name is entered in the notarial certificate. Even when a signer is acting as an attorney in fact for another principal it is the signer — not the principal — who appears before the Notary and whose signature is notarized. When completing certificate wording, be sure that only the name of the signer who physically appears before you is entered in the certificate.

The signer must present satisfactory proof of identity for the signer — not ID for the principal being represented. A signer acting in a representative capacity must still be positively identified and present satisfactory evidence of identity to the Notary as required under state law. So if “John Smith” is signing a healthcare document on behalf of principal “Patty Doe,” John must present his own ID as required under statute to the Notary. He may not use Patty’s ID or the power of attorney document giving him authority to sign on her behalf as proof of his identity for purposes of the notarization.

Be sure to enter the information about a representative signer in your journal entry correctly. When notarizing for a signer acting in a representative capacity, remember that the signer will have to sign their own name in your journal entry. However, under any “Additional Information” section in the journal entry, the Notary should write that the signer was acting in a representative capacity and note the name of the person the signer claims to be acting for. Even if your state doesn’t require it, the NNA recommends asking the signer to also show the document giving them authority to sign on the principal’s behalf. The Notary should write down whether proof of the signer’s representative capacity was provided in the journal entry also.

A signer may never take an oath or affirmation using the name of a principal, even if authorized to sign on behalf of that principal. Even if they have power of attorney, signers may not execute jurats under the name of another person. So “John Smith” could not sign “Patty Doe’s” name and swear “Patty Doe swears that the contents of these documents are true,” for a jurat, even if John Doe has power of attorney. However, he could sign his own name for a jurat and swear “I, John Doe, swear these documents I signed are true,” because then he is swearing on his own behalf and using his own name.

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