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How do I notarize for a signer experiencing memory issues?

I have been asked to notarize a Medical Power of Attorney for someone who has neurological problems with their memory. I am told that the individual will know what he is signing at the moment of notarization but won’t remember fifteen or twenty minutes later. How can I ascertain that he is mentally competent to sign?L. M., West Virginia

You can engage the person in casual conversation to determine if the person is aware at the time of signing. If at any time your signer doesn’t seem to understand what they are signing or if they seem confused, your statute gives you the right to refuse the notarization (WVC 39-4-8[b]). That statute reads in pertinent part,  “A notarial officer may refuse to perform a notarial act if the officer is not satisfied that … [t]he individual executing the record is competent or has the capacity to execute the record.” This is a judgment call you must make.  We would recommend adding comments in your journal regarding the signer’s demeanor at the time of the signing.

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 consultants to help you with all of your notarial questions. Call 1-888-876-0827, 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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Peter Lee Adams 3rd

25 Sep 2023

Great information.

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