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Can I Notarize For A Signer Who Has Alzheimer’s Disease?

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I have been asked to notarize the signature of a woman who has Alzheimer’s. She is periodically lucid but will frequently forget what she did just a few minutes ago. The document is a power of attorney that will be sent out of state to a relative. May I notarize for this signer?J.A., Bakersfield, CA

California law does not address this particular issue. We recommend that you only notarize for signers who are aware of what is going on at the time of the notarization. In your case, you would have to use your own judgment to determine if the individual is aware of what she is doing at the time of the signing. If she becomes confused or disoriented before you complete the act, it would be best for you to stop the notarization.

Hotline answers are based on the laws in the state where the question originated and may not reflect the laws of other states. If in doubt, always refer to your own state statutes. – The Editors

Confronted with a tricky notarization? Unsure how to proceed? NNA members have unlimited access to our expertly trained NNA Hotline counselors to help you with all of your notarial questions. Call 888-876-0827, Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. PST; Saturday, 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST.

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Michael E Harris, CNSA

13 Apr 2015

This is the common sense approach that I would use. Since I know a number of people with Alzheimer’s, I know that many of them are in and out of the confusion and memory loss of Alzheimer’s.

Neil O.

13 Apr 2015

You can ask a caregiver, friend or relative "is there is a time of day that they are more likely to be lucid?" {early morning is best for some individuals}. Also if I have any doubt at the time of signing I use a calender test as suggested by my physician IE "Today is Monday the 13th. What day of the month was yesterday? [a.12th] Then, what day of the week is tomorrow? {a. Tuesday} and finely, what day is today? [a. Monday the 13th]. This give me three verifiable data points, if they get all three correct I log it in my book as "3 calendar questions correct" I am neither a doctor nor a lawyer but I feel confident that if the signer can answer these three questions without prompting from their caregiver they meet my standard for "lucid at the time of signing" and by using the same procedure for any situation where I may not be sure that the signor meets the standard and logging it when it comes up I feel that I can at least defend myself in the event that I am called into court to defend the notarization.

Sue Baacke

13 Apr 2015

Having had a father with Alzheimer's and being a new notary, I can only say that once someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer's, their signature would be subject to contest because of the diagnosis. Using diagnosis letters with signatures of two physicians, a POA should have been in place already.


13 Apr 2015

I would not notarize for a patient with Alzheimer's. I was a paralegal in a trial for exactly that type of case. The individual with Alzheimer's had passed on and the Estate was in a heated lawsuit. The sister and brother were suing the other sister and the Notary that performed the notarization to Quit Claim the property to the sister. It didn't end well for the sister or the Notary. I would stay completely out of the situation.

Debby Duke

13 Apr 2015

I would add this caution on Alzheimer's Patients. My father has named me as his alternate Power of Attorney and Guardian. This was done years ago, before he needed it, and now that my mother (his primary POW) has passed, I am the current POW. I have discussed adding another secondary Power of Attorney in the event that something happens to me with our family attorney. Her advice is that this would not stand up to a challenge in court.

Laura Jordan

13 Apr 2015

If the law requires that a person that signs a Power of Attorney be of sound mind, such that an attorney could not prepare or witness the signature of one who is not of sound mind, why would a notary be able to ? The court provides for this situation with court-appointed guardianship. Sound mind usually means: mentally capable and cognitively intact. Failing to remember what she did or said minutes afterwards is not the sign of one who is of sound mind.

Miguel J Chinchillas

13 Apr 2015

Nice topic; I will take in account if I have that situatuion


03 Oct 2016

My first career was in nursing. I have had many calls to notarize where I am contacted by someone other than the document signer who requests notarization for someone who they tell me has Alzheimers disease, 'but they seem to be best in the mornings' etc. Now, having prior knowledge of the diagnosis already tells me not to do this. After the fact the lucidity of the patient/signer could be debated in court. I have been called to court on a similar case. The document signer was judged incompetent finally some 3 yrs after signing the document- a quitclaim, and the week before the court date. It resulted in a deposition and going to trial where I was on the stand for 10 grueling minutes with my journal and this was after 18 months of many sleepless nights and a claim on my E&O insurance. I also had another case where a doctor signed a letter stated the document signer was competent 3 weeks earlier, but in meeting with the signer, I could not imagine anyone saying this signer was competent and refused to be involved. The condition /mental status of the signer obviously had changed or I didn't agree with the doctors previous statement and I didn't notarize. These days, I will not accept a request to notarize for patients at hospitals or institutions unless the document signer calls me directly and we talk at length about what they are doing and I ascertain that their ID is current by having them look at it while I am on the phone. I will not even go out to see them until this happens and these requirements usually result in my not hearing from anyone again or going out to see anyone because the signer never calls to arrange directly with me. Most dangerous situations are nipped in the bud.

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