Protecting the elderly and the transaction.

Protecting the elderly and/or fragile.

In our commitment to providing excellent legal services to you and the community, we prioritize everyone’s safety by declining a transaction if a signer cannot fully explain their understanding of the documents and the reason for our meeting. We understand that difficult, stressful, and desperate moments may arise, but taking shortcuts concerning notary or California law is not in anyone’s best interest. If you are working with a person who is unable to make clear decisions, we recommend contacting an attorney for guidance on next steps. Doing what’s right protects everyone involved.

We frequently receive calls from family members in challenging situations regarding their elderly parents, frail family members, or ill friends. Requests for powers of attorney or advance health care directives to act on someone’s behalf or to move along a transaction are common on a weekly basis. However, for the safety of the vulnerable in our community and the integrity of your transaction, we must ensure that a signer has the capacity to sign. Otherwise, we risk breaking California law, compromising your transaction, endangering all parties involved, and even facing jail time.

Moreover, we place great importance on protecting a signer’s wishes and the integrity of your transaction. If everyone does not follow the rules, integrity, the transaction, and all future work may be compromised. Therefore, if a signer is unable to reason, understand, and confidently convey answers pertaining to a document, our policy is to cancel the appointment immediately.

Expired or Missing ID?

California law allows for an alternative solution – the use of “two credible witnesses.” If you’re in a bind and lack a valid ID, two individuals with current government-issued IDs can step in.

Need an additional Witness?

Certain documents such as Trusts, Wills, and hospital Advance Health Care Directives may require two witnesses who have no financial interest in the document, such as a friend or neighbor. Typically, hospital policy prohibits staff from serving as a witness. In most cases, the notary can serve as the first witness, but it is necessary to arrange for a second witness. If needed, SD Signings can provide an additional team member to act as a second witness upon request.

For more information about our Estate Planning Notary services, please visit our estate planning page.

San Diego Notary, an older woman is partially standing in a large bush, she smiles as the flowers surround her
San Diego Notary, an elderly man sits inside, he smiles as if content

Our process for ensuring a signer is okay to sign.

There should be no intervention or “helping” by others. Signers must be in a state of mind where they are able to convey their understanding and confidence within a situation on their own. We kindly request family and friends to take a step back while we ask questions reserved for the signers. This allows for a clear conversation between the notary and the signer, generally about the documents, but also in a normal dialogue. The signer should be able to answer questions with depth, showing full capacity to handle real-world situations and explain the complexity of the document clearly. Additionally, the signer should feel comfortable and confident, conveying their decision to move forward. It is important to us that the signer’s wishes are respected and their decision is made with confidence and clarity.

If it is questionable, it's a "no" from us. We will not notarize.

We understand that difficult situations can arise, and we want to ensure that we provide the best service possible to you and the signer. It is important to note that if a signer is unable to fully understand and convey their understanding of the documents, we may have to decline the transaction. This is to protect everyone involved and to prevent any potential legal issues.

Furthermore, we care about the well-being of our notaries and have implemented a strict policy that they should decline any questionable situations. We kindly ask that you do not put our notaries in a position where they feel uncomfortable or compromised. If your family member or client is unable to fully understand the documents, we recommend that you seek legal advice from an attorney. This will help ensure that your transaction is not compromised and that all parties involved are protected.
San Diego Notary, a older woman holds her hands in the air as if grateful, she wears a red sun hat outdoors
San Diego Notary, person signing document at kitchen table

Questions we may ask

  • We’ll be signing some documents today. Can you please explain to me what these documents are about? I need your full answers.
  • Can you please introduce me to the people in the room and tell me how you know each of them?
  • What is your opinion on the president’s decisions so far this year?
  • Did you grow up in California? Which part of town do you currently reside in?
  • What are your thoughts on the current events that are happening in the world?
  • What is the purpose of your transaction? Are you feeling confident and comfortable about it? (Questions may vary)