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What Would You Do: The Case Of The Husband's POA And Divorce

divorce-resized.jpgThe Notary Hotline receives hundreds of calls daily from Notaries nationwide who find themselves in challenging situations. To boost your knowledge of Notary standards of practice, we’ve created a series of scenarios based on actual situations and ask a simple question: What would you do?

In this situation, a signer comes to your office with a document and requests a notarization. He tells you that he has power of attorney to sign for his wife, who is bedridden and unable to sign documents for herself. The signer says he would like to sign the document twice — once for himself, and once signing as attorney in fact on his wife’s behalf — and would like you to notarize both signatures.

However, when he presents you with the document, you realize it is a divorce settlement agreement for the signer and his absent wife.

What Would You Do?

Would you proceed with this notarization? Does the signer’s request meet the requirements of your state’s Notary laws? Do you have concerns because the husband is signing a document on behalf of his absent wife that potentially benefits him? What approach would you take in this scenario?

To participate in this week’s “What Would You Do?” scenario, share your answers in the comments section below. We may mention your response in next week’s Bulletin, where we offer the best possible answer(s) to this Notary challenge.

David Thun is an Associate Editor at the National Notary Association.

117 Comments

Add your comment

Meredith Vuylsteke

16 Jun 2019

I live in Oregon, so I would be required to verify the husband's status as POW for the wife. My commonsense tells me that this is not an ethical thing for him to be doing on her behalf. I haven't found anything that says any different but I think I would refuse this notary based on this scenario.

chitra govindarajan

16 Jun 2019

NNA member

Joe Antonucci

17 Jun 2019

I would not continue with the signing without seeing the notarized POA authorizing him to act as POA and signed by the wife.

Lynn Gidlow

17 Jun 2019

Sometimes it is difficult for us, as Notaries Public, to remember that the content of the document is not our problem. The problem arises only if there are blank spaces in the document such as dates, etc. If the husband says he has Power of Attorney for his wife, then we need him to present identification and sign as John Doe, Attorney in Fact for Jane Doe; Then he should sign our journal and leave a thumbprint. If there is a legal problem about the document, it would be settled in a Court of Law, but should have nothing to do with the legality of the notarization.

Lagenea Dregne

17 Jun 2019

I would not complete the notarization at the time the husband came to me alone wanting to sign for both parties. Since the wife is bedridden, I would make an appointment to meet with both parties and decide at that time if the wife is aware enough and knows what it is she is signing. We have to be vigilant at times like this so no one is taken advantage of and all parties are aware of what is going on.

Ruthanne Sargus Ross

17 Jun 2019

No. No. Yes. I would explain why I am not able to notarize a signature of an absent person. I would offer my services to him and his wife (with her picture id verifying who she is) when they are both able to be in my presence. I once had a coworker ask me to notarize a vehicle title that she would bring to me which her ex-husband had already signed. I told no and if she brought him in from out of town I would me them at our work parking lot and notarize his signature. I made it clear he had to have picture id proof of who he claimed to be, since i did not him. She did not ask me to notarize the title again.

Margaretta Taylor

17 Jun 2019

I believe I would either be willing to ask if it's ok that I go back to your house so I may see her sign, because if she is unable to sign I would need to be in her presence to be sure she is unable and to know she is in agreement. Be Because she may very well have no knowledge of the situation. You must be wise and as sharp as a dove! How do I know the poa is true? I don't

Maire Aquilina

17 Jun 2019

It doesn't sound like it is something I can do because it would be a conflict of interest. I would imagine the poor woman would need to get another POA and then I would be able to notarize both of their signatures. I would, of course, call the Notary Hotline to confirm my suspicions.

Steve Williams

17 Jun 2019

I would respectfully refuse to notarize such document just to be on the safe side.

Donna Schwartz

17 Jun 2019

My first instinct is wanting to say "no way"! But I would look up the law for my state to see exactly what needed to be done and make sure I entered all information in my book.

Joy Williams

17 Jun 2019

I would tell him I am not authorize to notarize a divorce settlement and advise him to seek legal counsel from an attorney.

Debbie

17 Jun 2019

I would ask if the wife is capable of signing for herself. If she is, then I would require her presence. If she is unavailable, I would require verification that she is in agreement with him signing as POA. All else fails, I suppose I would refuse to notarize

johnson150147@aol.com

17 Jun 2019

"NO" … I would tell. The client that He or She. Would need an Attorney to Notarization He or She case.

Mildred Cooke

17 Jun 2019

I would be uncomfortable performing this type of notarization. Without being able to speak to the wife for verification, a divorce settlement seems self-serving on the husband's behalf. I would require two impartial witnesses, identification, a notarized copy of the POA and an oath from the husband that he is in fact authorized as POA for his wife.

Wilhelmina

17 Jun 2019

The laws in WV are very clear: “The person whose signature is being notarized must be present to acknowledge the signature or attest to the oath.” Additionally, it’s possible this is a case that should be reported to DHHR for possible abuse. I would recommend that I meet with the wife at her home and reevaluate the situation.

Meena Gulati

17 Jun 2019

I would refuse to notarize . Suggest a home visit , since I am a traveling Notary for 29 years approx . In NEW YORK CITY

carie

17 Jun 2019

Even if it would meet state notary laws,I would not notarize the documents. I would suggest that he speak to legal or find a notary willing to visit the bedridden wife to be sure it is her wishes to sign that document.

DEBORAH KWATIA

17 Jun 2019

I wouldn't notarize this document. The POA has a vested interest in this transaction and could potentially gain from the spouse.

Brenda G Halle

17 Jun 2019

I would assume the divorce papers were drawn up by an attorney, and in most cases, attorney's offices have Notary Publics available to them. I would suggest he go through his attorney's office to get the papers signed and notarized.

Darrel Munsey

17 Jun 2019

Unless the POA gives specific rights to convey interest to the holder of the POA, the POA will not work. A holder of a POA cannot convey interest owned by the person they represent into themselves without specific authority being granted. Notary denied otherwise.

Stanley O'Bryant

17 Jun 2019

No, in this case, I would "not" notarize his wife's signature.

John Axt

17 Jun 2019

From one of the title insurance underwriting manuals. “At the time of closing and insuring, an affidavit is necessary affirming that the principal is not deceased, or incapacitated (if not a durable power of attorney), and that the power of attorney has not been revoked, especially when it is an older power of attorney.”. I might try to reach the Principal to verify it.

SHINE

17 Jun 2019

I don't believe that you'd be able to sign with a POA. But I would have to see the POA documents and read the language as to what specific powers he has been given. Personally, I wouldn't notarize these documents because it does sound like it's for his benefit. Plus I'm not sure if the wife agrees with this or has made this decision of her own free will.

Susan

17 Jun 2019

In most states a POA is voided when a spouse files for divorce or legal separation. I would let the husband know of this law and the POA is now voided.

Brenda

17 Jun 2019

I would not notarize this document without the wife being present.

Denise Gould

17 Jun 2019

The answer would be qualified by the state where the document is being dealt with. If allowable by specific state statutes, a copy of the power of attorney may/should be requested. Best practices should be considered where statutes are mute and the power of attorney documentation should be requested. This may be enough to take care of the situation if the person cannot produce the power of attorney documentation. I would be uncomfortable notarizing the document because the power of attorney is not a disinterested party in this scenario. If they produce the power of attorney documentation, the case becomes more complicated. Though the primary can't sign or be present, would it be possible to go to them and they give verbal assent to the content of the document? If that is possible, then depending on your assessment of the primary you could proceed or not with the notarization.

Clare L. Ward-Jenkins

17 Jun 2019

I would not notarize those documents. The whole scenario sticks to high heaven.

Sandy Mays

17 Jun 2019

I would not notarize

Phylis M

17 Jun 2019

I believe I would have to decline. It seems improper for him to sign the divorce papers for her when the divorce is from him. A clear conflict as he is not an impartial party in the process. I may offer to go to her for the signature / credible witness or other means to notarize the document.

Judith Dickson

17 Jun 2019

This is a tough one. I think I would ask to see the executed POA document. If he can prove his status as Attorney in Fact, I would complete the notarization. If he cannot, I would politely refuse based on the fact that there is not proof of his status.

Terry Tabor

17 Jun 2019

I would need to have the wife present or see her in the room with his Power of Attorney signed papers indicating he has the right to sign for her and for me to ask if she understand what the papers mean.

Nina Crawford

17 Jun 2019

I would refuse to notarize the document as it would be self-serving for the Husband.

Jeffrey Chropka

17 Jun 2019

Unfortunately I think he can notarize it, In PA a POA need only state out loud that they are a POA of Jane Doe and then Clearly sign as a statement. "Signer Name is signing as POA of Wife Name", unless because its prohibited by PA POA law. can't wait to read this answer

rachel@RichardsonRecoveryCenter.org

17 Jun 2019

Whoa - they are already on opposite sides of a battlefield. This is why some of us are mobile notaries; we go to that "bedridden" person and notarize them there.

Denise Stokka

17 Jun 2019

Under NO circumstances would I notarize a HUSBAND, wanting to SIGN for his WIFE, in a divorce situation. The scenario. does not mention whether he has shown proof of her Power of Attorney - but even if he had it - NEVER notarize due to the document being relative to their DIVORCE. Denise S

Diane Hilbun

17 Jun 2019

No I would not proceed with this notarization! There is no documentation showing him as the power of attorney. Also it is to benefit himself, I feel that by him signing for his wife, would be potential forgery....

tom knaack

17 Jun 2019

NO way he is also a party to the action...cut and dry.

Linda Millstone

17 Jun 2019

This is very interesting. I would not go through with this notarization. My chief concern is that because this is a divorce settlement, I don't know if the wife has rescinded the POA. I would tell him that I don't feel comfortable doing the notarization because it is a divorce settlement and I don't know that his wife would be signing it if she were present.

Kris Mcintyre

17 Jun 2019

I would not do this notarization even if the POA and other documents seem to be in order. A POA usually requires acts of the Attorney in Fact to act in the best interest of the other person. In the case of divorce that is not always the case. I would refer them to their attorney.

Millie Cintron

17 Jun 2019

In the case above, where the husband says he has power of attorney, I would not proceed with the notary.

Katherine Politte

17 Jun 2019

In this case, I would at least have to speak personally with the wife. I would not under these circumstances, perform the notarization. He did not even present her drivers license!

mlvennie2001@gmail.com

17 Jun 2019

I would notarize the signer with proper ID. But I would need to see the POA documentation to proceed and notarize for wife.

SUSANA ELZEY

17 Jun 2019

Absolutely not!

Karen N

17 Jun 2019

I would not be willing to notarize his "POA" signature for his wife. I would be willing to notarize her (IRL) attorney's signature.

Michael Long

17 Jun 2019

I would not notarize unless both parties are there and represented

Erin S

17 Jun 2019

No way. Just because he says he has power of attorney doesn't make it so. He needs to provide documents and even then I probably wouldn't do it.

maria levine

17 Jun 2019

I would not notarize, If she is bed written, I would go to her and then decide whether she is competent enough to understand the document.

Mary F

17 Jun 2019

I would ask for time to consult the attorney or attorneys who are handling the divorce and the attorney who gave him the POA. There are too many loose ends to this, How old is the POA, was it obtained under duress and is it actually the wife's signature giving it to him. He has too much to gain with the document. I might also request that I notarize the wife's actual signature by going to her. I would not notarize his signature at POA for his wife.

Jacques Joseph

17 Jun 2019

I would not notarized the document in this case even with a POA unless his wife sends a valid state id or driver’s license and vocal communication with the wife.

Linda Brill

17 Jun 2019

I would not do this notarisation because there's a severe conflict of interest. I would offer to go to the nursing home or Care center where his wife is and do the notarisation there with her present.

Reagan L

17 Jun 2019

I would not want to do this. Luckily, In Texas; the type of notarization required on a divorce document is a Jurat. Since an Attorney-In-Fact cannot "swear" for the principal (in Texas); I would refuse the notarization.

Linda Mansfield

17 Jun 2019

There are different types of Powers of Attorney and each is specific as to what power is granted. If the husband can produce a notarized, recorded Power of Attorney which grants him the power to act for his spouse in any and all situations, then I would feel comfortable notarizing the document for both parties. However, If such document cannot be presented, I would courtesly decline.

Marc Carr

17 Jun 2019

I'm a mobile Notary, so I'd offer to go to his wife and then notarize both signatures as long as they have valid I.D. or at the very least notarize just the husband signature.

Tayler Alfiers

17 Jun 2019

Unfortunately, here in California, we specify that we are only notarizing the signature and confirming the identity of the signer; we are not notarizing or confirming the truthfulness, accuracy or validity of the document(s) we notarize. Therefore, if the husband had the executed POA, I feel as though he would meet all the California State rules, and I would have to complete the notary. However, I would require for him to sign his name - "[husbands name] signing for [his wife's name]," and I would be sure to take detailed notes in my journal regarding the notarization. Additionally, I would request a copy of his POA for my records. (I would not feel comfortable completing his notary without a copy of his POA). Yet, overall, I do think that I would be obligated to complete his notary.

J Lano

17 Jun 2019

I just finished reading the "How to Notarize for Power of Attorney," in my state the signer wouldn't have to prove they're POA. If it's just notarizing the signature I would think I'd have to based on what I just read but ensure that it's obvious to the court that he's signing on behalf of the spouse. I hope this never comes up for me!

Warren Brewer

17 Jun 2019

Is the wife lucid or Comatose? Is the POA a “regular” or is it a Durable POA? Could we do the signing at the hospital or place where the medical treatment and/or rehabilitation is/are ongoing? If the POA is not a Durable, there is no way for the wife to have been able to cancel/withdraw the POA’s authority.

Candi Rosenthal

17 Jun 2019

As a title closer in New York I had to call to verify that the power was still in effect and that the closing was allowed.........I would do the same. I have seen title claims from a similar situation. If I wasn't 100% confident it was okay to move forward, I would adjourn the signing.

Ashish

17 Jun 2019

No this is a blatant case of conflict of interest. The PoA has been granted to take care the bedridden wife by the husband and in her best interest. This PoA cannot be used by husband as an opposing party against wife. The husband will have to follow legal process through court to get dissolution of marriage (including mentally/physically incapacitated partner). In my opinion such notary acts may get the notary in very bad trouble with law

F Johnson

17 Jun 2019

Arizona law allows a notary to refuse to perform a notarial act if the notary determines it NOT be reasonable. Black's Law Dictionary defines "reasonable" as "fair, proper, just, moderate, suitable under the circumstances." Under these circumstances I would deem it not reasonable and refuse the notary. I would not find it fair, proper, just, suitable and just plain morally wrong. Another notary may not feel this way but I would and since Arizona law allows me this out I would take it.

Melanie Lawson

17 Jun 2019

Because he indicated he is bedridden, we have no way of knowing if she is a protected person. Without further instruction or medical note stating she is of sound mind and is capable of making decisions of this specific nature,, I would not notarize. I would also check out state laws. In some states, filing a divorce decree nullifies a POA.

Barbara Grant

17 Jun 2019

No. I would look up my States rules on this. Because it seems like the Husband might have a possible financial gain in doing this. If my State laws says its ok, then I would do this. I would also call the Notary Hotline to double check .

Phyllis Denison

17 Jun 2019

She is bed fast? He has POA? I would have to see it to believe it, to verify it was in effect and active. Would still be skeptical as she is an invalid and he is divorcing her? This one is difficult. I would have to be in the situation to make a good decision.

Vickie

17 Jun 2019

Pennsylvania law “ The purpose of a power of attorney is to give another person – your agent – the power to make financial and property transactions for you.“ I would only be able to notarize the person present.

Hanif Thakor

17 Jun 2019

I would notarized it as long as he has a POA from his wife. I do not recall any prohibition by State of California notary laws.

John Clark

17 Jun 2019

I would decline to do this as the husband is plainly self-dealing, no matter if I somehow knew that his wife had agreed in principle to this settlement. It has no force or effect anyway until incorporated in their decree of divorce. If this specimen of a POA was signed by the wife and notarized years ago, then its validity in a legal proceeding to nullify its own self is very dubious. Or if just recently notarized, it is probably a forgery. A notary would be foolish and negligent to take part in this, knowing as you should the high chance of getting dragged into court for it. What will your defense be --- that you are technically not at fault, just stupid?

PATTI

17 Jun 2019

you are damned if you do and damned if you don't - you could be interpreting a legal document without a license to practice law or you could be enabling a fraud. So I agree with Lynn Gidlow - content of document is out of our realm as long as it is complete.

Walter Grant

17 Jun 2019

First off I never notarize anything without inspecting the power of attorney document to see if I think the power has been granted the attorney in fact by the grantor. While not a divorse case, I have been asked to do something similar dealing with a trust in which one trustee had power of attorney for the spouse, the other trustee, and wanted to sign in both places. My inclination is to join the chorus of refusing notarization. I'd rather deal with a complaint filed with the Secretary of State than be involved with, and possibly sued as part of, a court case over the document. it will always be cheaper out of my pocket and less worrisome. As always, would note the request and my reason for denial of notarization in my journal for my own defense. As to another commenter's story about the attorney preparing the document usually having a notary in their office—I also have had multiple requests to notarize documents, alleged to be prepared by attorneys, that were sketchy at best. I suspect the attorney sent clients out of office for notarization to avoid liability and malpractice. And it never fails to surprise me that one that *were* actually prepared by attorneys that have incorrect notary certificates. Sheesh

Lydia Routt

17 Jun 2019

We would have to verify that he is the attorney-in-fact; by looking at the original POA. Furthermore what capacities he is able to complete for her. While we do not question the content of a document, doing our due diligence is key here. On a personal note I would ; as a Mobile Notary) request to see the wife, because she is still able to revoke the power at any time ( But that is more of a erring on the side of caution)

Treva Phelan

17 Jun 2019

Most of the above comments indicate that the notary should not proceed. I agree. It would be helpful to me if it was indicated which state each comment came from.

John Clark

17 Jun 2019

Look ... if a couple shows up wanting their property settlement notarized, the burden is on them both to prove their identities, not on the notary to find some excuse for believing that the wife just "lost" her ID. The case brought up here is far flimsier, with the wife not only absent but purportedly indisposed, and the husband [�] not showing the power of attorney that he means to use in proceedings to nullify that same POA. Refuse him, and if he threatens to sue you, refuse him twice as much. He's not going to make a court case of this unless he wants to be jailed for fraud. You could helpfully suggest taking the paper to his wife's attorney's office, or looking up whoever notarized the POA that you never saw.

Ken E. Rogers

17 Jun 2019

A POA is only valid if the person named in the POA is alive. You would have to meet with her and verify that. This is why, at least here it Texas, if a POA is used to sign real estate docs, the title company or attorney managing the closing calls the person to make sure they are alive. I once had a sales transaction delayed for a week due to one of the sellers being in the Pacific in a Submarine and no one could make contact to assure them being alive.

Steven S

17 Jun 2019

I would have to decline here because that situation would make me uncomfortable - and one of the tenets of being a Notary, as I understand it, is the ability to politely refuse any situation that makes the Notary uncomfortable. In line with another comment, most attorney offices have Notaries. Why didn't they notarize it? Makes it suspicious to me that the signer sought a 3rd party. And, in all 50 states a Notary can not practice law without also being a licensed attorney -- as such, it is not my place to read over a POA and judge if it is valid. I am not a lawyer, and definitely not risking my credentials and bond for a sketchy situation. It's just not worth the $6 I'll get for the signature. And as also mentioned, he could benefit from this transaction, at the expense of the absent signer. Notaries can not notarize documents in which they personally benefit -- so by that same moral, I feel it improper to notarize a signer who is both signing for himself as well as the absentee. Could the divorce be written such that maybe the wife got everything? Sure. But as another comment points out, we're notarizing documents and are not supposed to judge the content. So, I have to treat the document as if I do not know its contents. Notarization refused.

Christine Willson

17 Jun 2019

In the state of California, the husband has an interest in the property therefore he will have to assign another POA with no interest in the property.

Juanita Marie Little-Lyons

17 Jun 2019

I see a court date in the offing. Fortunately, I am not required to notarize a document that I am uncomfortable notarizing in my state. I would "regretfully" decline and suggest he might ask for a mobile notary to join the two of them at their residence for this notarization.

C Garcia

17 Jun 2019

I would ask for the original signed POA. A signer must present the document when seeking to sign for someone else if asked. I would ask if the other party is unavailable to travel for the notarization or is incapacitated and unable to sign for themselves. If the latter were the case I would ask to see a copy of the court decree stating such. I think if the person is capable of signing for themselves and only unable to travel I would offer to travel to them to complete the notarization. Otherwise, I would refer the party back to the attorney that drew up the paperwork to notarize.

carol walker

17 Jun 2019

I wouldn’t do it. It’s self serving.

APO Notary

17 Jun 2019

NO...I would not notarize the document. If it was just his signature, yes, both signatures, without her present... NO

Patricia Giangrande

17 Jun 2019

I would try and get in touch with the wife and make sure she is aware of her husband's power of attorney in singing for her. I would not make the notarization until I am sure of all the facts.

Katie Perry

17 Jun 2019

This was tricky... As a notary I would complete the notary and allow him to sign for himself and as POA. The validity of the divorce document or the POA is not my concearn. In CA we are not required to verify the status of the attorney in fact on the POA. I am only there to scan the document for completeness and acknowledge his signature and/or take an oath.

Eileen Roe

17 Jun 2019

The purpose of a power of attorney is so that the person granting it does NOT have to be present to sign a document. And saying that you would go see the bedridden woman, who may be located 100 miles away, is just defeating the purpose of a power of attorney. The only sketchy aspect is the fact that the document is a divorce filing, and you don't know if the power of attorney is broad or specific. Make sure when he signs it, he emphasizes that her signature is HIS as her power of attorney, and let the presiding judge make the decision.

Patti

17 Jun 2019

NO absolutely not.

Daniel Lovejoy

17 Jun 2019

I would have to refuse this particular notary. There is a clear conflict of interest in this, and without the wife present - well, I could see how she might be surprised to find out she signed for a divorce she didn't know was being considered.

Patsy Cothren

17 Jun 2019

I would not notarize said paperwork. A contract (i.e. divorce paper (s)) is a legally binding agreement between two people. I would ask for his original POA to go over. I might suggest we take a ride to his home to meet with his "unable" wife and inquire if she knew about the divorce papers. Does wife have the signed original POA prior to the divorce papers? Further, did an attorney draw up this divorce settlement?

Eddye Bexley

17 Jun 2019

Of course not! I would not even consider it.

Alexander McGowan

17 Jun 2019

Since the document benefits the husband I would not notarize it without the wife presence. I would ask to go to the wife’Location

Joan Stanley

17 Jun 2019

No, I would not notarize the divorce settlement agreement where a husband has POA for a wife not present before me. First, there is an inherent conflict of interest for a husband having the ability to sign as Power of Attorney on behalf of a woman to become his ex-wife on a Divorce Settlement Agreement. If everything was ok with this scenario, ask yourself why the husband didn't have the doc notarized at the attorney's office? If a situation seems not right, chances are it's not. A notary has the right to decline if they feel a fraud is a possibility. I would, though, ask to see the POA to see what rights are given under the POA and how recent it is. Chances are the customer is going to start figiting over the legality of what they're asking be done. This will validate your decision to decline. As a notary we are sometimes called upon to be someone's first line of defense in a fraud that is being perpetrated against them. If people thought they could bring any document before us and we were obligated to notarize all without common sense being applied there would be a lot more fraud. We serve a purpose more than just a meaningless signature. IF everything is ok, I'm more than willing to meet with the wife in person to ascertain her agreement and notarize the doc then.

betty

17 Jun 2019

Would you proceed with this notarization? Nope. His misrepresented himself by leaving out the "divorce." THIS is something to be notarized in a Law Office, if, at all. Does the signer’s request meet the requirements of your state’s Notary laws? Don't know, don't care. Divorces are messy. DH (atty) only does those that are amicable, if at all anymore. I would NOT want to be a witness in court over anything, especially in a divorce. Do you have concerns because the husband is signing a document on behalf of his absent wife that potentially benefits him? What other reason could there be? What approach would you take in this scenario? I would tell him, "I am sorry, but you did not tell me the whole truth. Perhaps another notary can help you. Have a nice day."

John Clark

17 Jun 2019

The common- sense response is to decline, period. Do NOT pursue this a moment longer, and especially don't offer to visit his bedridden "wife." You can suggest taking the paper to be notarized at her attorney's office.

Steve Server

17 Jun 2019

He's a party in the divorce. I would politely refuse notarization

Mike G.

17 Jun 2019

As several have pointed out, there is no documentation of the husbands claim of power of attorney and in Pennsylvania that would need to be expressed in the notarial language. The warning in this scenario is that the notary is presented with a standard divorce agreement by the description. The most prudent course of action would be to refer the husband to the attorney that prepared the POA for his wife or a divorce attorney of his choice. The legal complexities of this situation would require a attorney. In fact, I would refuse this notarization as described.

Robin Bunton

17 Jun 2019

I called the hotline for CA and was told that a divorce decree should not be notarized, but supporting documents can be notarized. In the case of PoA for any other documents other than vital records or divorce decree must the signer be present, or will a notarized presentation of the PoA be sufficient? It seems logical that it would since the person already signed rights over giving PoA to another person? How do you know a PoA is legit? Please advise.

Rod Davison

17 Jun 2019

I think many people in this situation are letting personal feelings get in the way. Many are even crossing the line with legal advise. It's really pretty clear, the husband can't sign for his wife in divorce papers. Many states the poa becomes revoked when divorce is finalized. No I couldn't notarize the paperwork, but I could notarize his signature just not his on his wife behalf.

Larry Eason

17 Jun 2019

First, the fact that this story shows that he "says" he has power of attorney stops everything right there!!! The presenting party must always present the actual signed, notarized power of attorney for review before even being considered. My next step would be to check the conditions and limitations of the actual signed, notarized POA. In this case I would then have to check with either the Secretary of State's office for Florida's guidelines or call NNA hotline as i have in the past because I don't know the answer beyond that. I will know soon though.

Diana Nemirovsky

17 Jun 2019

Visit wife home. Check the condition and ability to sign. Make a phone call to her divorce attorney.

Deborah Greenstein

18 Jun 2019

It smells fishy to me and I would refuse to notarize it. I think that there is a conflict of interest here since Husband has a pecuniary interest in the MSA. As attorney-in-fact for Wife, he is supposed to act in her best interests. How can he possibly do that with a settlement agreement? Also, if Wife is bedridden and incapable of signing the agreement on her own, how can she have the capacity to consent to the terms of the MSA? There are a lot of variables, but I wouldn’t do it without consulting with a reputable family law attorney. However, knowing what I know about family law, I think this is a clear conflict of interest and I wouldn't go near it.

Alicia Rodriguez

18 Jun 2019

When in doubt, call the NNA hotline.

Candace C Childs

18 Jun 2019

I would decline to notarize this document because he has a vested interest in the document and would benefit from its content, and him doing so is unethical.

Anita Wright

18 Jun 2019

NO! I would not notarize this document. It is unethical and "heartless" for a husband to want to divorce his helpless and sick wife. It bring tears to my eyes to believe that this person could be so selfish and uncaring to a spouse who he made a Marriage Covenant with. I would probably go the extra mile and meet with the wife to check on her emotional and physical welfare. I would also investigate to see if his paperwork was legal. However, I still would not notarize the papers.

Alma

18 Jun 2019

Refuse the notarization.

Schrhonda Babineaux

18 Jun 2019

I live in the great state of Texas which is a community property state. You have to exercise good judgment when notarizing documents. It would raise a great concern as to why the husband would state he has POA for his wife, she’s not present and it’s a document for a divorce that he would gain from. People who have POAs for someone is because they gave their best interest and not for any gain. What this husband is trying to do is unethical. In the event of a divorce attorneys are normally involved and can handle any notarizing of any document. With a POA there really isn’t a need for notarized documents unless requested that it is done to accompany the POS. I wouldn’t notarize the document due to too many inconsistencies and especially because the wife isn’t present to sign for herself.

Howard W Bleiwas

19 Jun 2019

The PoA is invalid as the agent is party to the instrument and has adverse interest. I can't see it as enforceable. That having been said, all the notary is acknowledging is the signers ID and the act of signing. It is for a court of competent jurisdiction to decide if an instrument is valid and has effect. Even if in contact with the wife, and in her presence, either contemporaneously or at a future date, the notary should pause and carefully consider.

Marjorie Sallee

19 Jun 2019

I would definitely have to see proof of his claim before feeling comfortable to proceed.

Steve Kramer

19 Jun 2019

I believe there could be a conflict of interest due to the fact that this is a divorce document. I would decline.

Doris Meshack

19 Jun 2019

I would first ask him about contacting his wife's attorney to take care of the document. Next I would offer to go with the husband to the hospital where the wife is bedridden. We could ask to have her nurse, doctor or social services present for me to do the notarization. I am in California, so the wife would need to be present, before me. I would also inquire as to why her attorney has not offered to assist him in the notarization of the document.

Danite Haines

19 Jun 2019

I would have to refuse even though he has a POA. It has the feel of betrayal and misuse of trust.

John Clark

19 Jun 2019

No law or custom can force you to take part in an act that you reasonably suspect of fraud. It's amazing to read here of notaries thinking up excuses to drop their guard, and ways to get wheedled or bullied into trouble. Think about this, people. The law may not hold you responsible for the substance of a document, but neither can it require you to notarize one in willful ignorance of your whole situation. It is not "practicing law" to find a case like this very dubious, using your basic knowledge and good sense. Your basic sense guides you to decline to notarize this at once, not wasting one extra minute on it. When you rightly do so, the presenter may threaten to report or sue you but actually won't.. Of course not. He is almost certainly a crook, so trying to make a case of this would do himself in. Or in the doubtful event of having to answer for it, your best defense will be, again, reasonable suspicion of fraud.

Sheila Browne

19 Jun 2019

I Live in Florida. I will not do the paper work, I would think that once the Divorce is in process the POA should be null and voided.

John Clark

19 Jun 2019

No law or custom can force you to take part in an act that you reasonably suspect of fraud. It's amazing to read here of notaries thinking up excuses to drop their guard, and ways to get wheedled or bullied into trouble. Think about this, people. The law may not hold you responsible for the substance of a document, but neither can it require you to notarize one in willful ignorance of your whole situation. It is not "practicing law" to find a case like this very dubious, using your basic knowledge and good sense. Your basic sense guides you to decline to notarize this at once, not wasting one extra minute on it. When you rightly do so, the presenter may threaten to report or sue you but actually won't.. Of course not. He is almost certainly a crook, so trying to make a case of this would do himself in. Or in the doubtful event of having to answer for it, your best defense will be, again, reasonable suspicion of fraud.

Lynell Bland

20 Jun 2019

He cannot sign because he has a vested interest in the document. Doesn’t matter if he has power of attorney or not. You cannot notarize.

Lynell Bland

20 Jun 2019

I would refuse the notary because he has a vested interest in the document. Doesn’t matter that he has a power of attorney.

Nancy Lomac

20 Jun 2019

I would politely decline to notarize in this instance. The situation doesn't specify but I presume the client did not produce the POA as confirmation. Since he presumably had an attorney draft the divorce paperwork and also presuming said attorney is aware of the wife's condition and the existing POA, why would an outside notary be necessary? Too many red flags for me to be comfortable.

Terry Kostner

20 Jun 2019

A Power of Attorney can NEVER sign anything that benefits himself/herself. It is quite obvious that you should not notarize this document.

Bonita Sargeant

20 Jun 2019

As a notary of New York state I would have to refuse unless the husband would like to arrange an appointment at bedside depending on the extent of the wife's illness. If I was in a state that allowed remote notarization I would offer that service as an alternative for the wife.

Cheryl Kaster

21 Jun 2019

The signer would have to provide the original POA, however, even if he did so, I would be skeptical of this because this is obviously an adversarial legal action. I would refuse to this notarization. If in doubt, don't to me is the best protection. I hardly think a wife would give a husband POA if she were contemplating divorcing him.

James Lawrence

21 Jun 2019

The scenario presented only indicates he is claiming to have POA to sign for his wife. So I would say no. I would offer to make an appointment to meet them at their house.

J Stanley

22 Jun 2019

If your statutes allow you to refuse a notarization, I would refuse If you are required to do it based on the signers statement of authority, I would complete the notarization. People lie on affidavits all the time so that would be useless. Ask hubby if he is the authorized attorney in fact for wifey. My state requires representative capacity be shown in ack. Other than that, anything wrong is on the signer not the notary

Terri L Poster-Taylor

23 Jul 2019

I would ask to see the POA to make sure he did, in fact have a POA to sign for his wife. If he presented it to me and it was in order, would proceed with the notarization. Notarizing a document does not make it legal. All we are doing is identifying the signer before us and authenticating his signature. I cannot legally refuse to notarize a document if all is in order. Just because I don't think it is nice, ethical, appropriate, etc., does not give me the right to refuse. I am not an attorney, I can not and do not make the decision if a document is legal or not. I may not like it, but if his ID is acceptable and the POA in order, then I must notarize.

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