Impaired Signers Present Issues

Impaired signers present some difficult issues. There will be times where you will be asked to notarize a document by a person who is physically or mentally impaired. This can be tricky as it puts the notary in a difficult spot. The notary will have to determine if the signer has the capacity to sign. All people have legal issues. If they are able, they should be able to handle them.

Sometimes it is just impossible to notarize a signature of an impaired signer. If a person is not physically able to sign a document without someone guiding his or her hand, then you cannot notarize the signature or mark. Hopefully they have appointed a guardian to handle their affairs. If not, then there is not much you can do.

Speech or hearing impairment presents challenges, but it is not impossible if they can communicate with you an understanding of what they are signing. You will have to be creative. Maybe you know sign language or they can communicate by writing a note. Can you read lips? Well, you get the idea. It can be done, but you will have to make an extra effort.

Are there other types of impaired singers? Well yes...

Is the person blind? Ask the person if they know what they are signing and/or the purpose of the document. Are they mentally impaired? If the impairment causes a lack of understanding of what they are signing then you cannot notarize the signature. Again, let's hope that they have a guardian.

Word of caution. Be careful not to explain the document to them. You do not want to be caught practicing law. Sure it is unlikely, but better to do things above board. Giving legal advice is tricky business if you are not trained (take it from a lawyer). So stay away from any appearance of giving legal advice. Think of it this way, is the money you will make from the notarization worth the time and effort and money involved if you are sued for practicing law? Probably not. So best to stay away from any such appearance.

Intoxication is a different matter. I just politely ask them to return later. I make up a story that I am busy or have a personal emergency. I just don't touch it if it is clear they have been drinking. Usually, these are the type of people that come after you later when they sober up.

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