Recently, this question was posed to me during a phone call requesting my mobile notary public services in Portola Valley, California.
I received the call from “Jane” whose sister “Jody” has terminal cancer. Within the span of a week or so, Jody’s health declined at a faster rate than before, so they had to accelerate their estate planning (trust, advanced healthcare directive, durable power of attorney, trust certification, transfer of property to trust and other documents). They scrambled to generate the documents with their attorney and have the documents notarized before Jody passed away.
During the initial phone conversation with Jane, I asked if Jody could sign on her own. Jane replied, “No, what if my sister cannot sign her signature?” I said, “We need two witnesses since Jody will sign by a mark. These witnesses should not be family members or be named in the documents. Their purpose is to witness Jody signing by a mark and her understanding of the documents she signs.” Jane said that she would ask two neighbors to act as witnesses.
I also asked, “When is the best time to sign the documents with Jody during her medication cycle?” (The best time to sign is some time after the morphine or other strong medication is administered, so Jody is coherent and has the ability to sign by a mark.) Jane said, “The best time would be in the early afternoon.” We set a time that worked best for everyone.
During the notary appointment signing, Jody had the strength to sign by a mark on all of the documents. The witnesses and Jane were patient with the process and I notarized all of the documents. Jane mentioned that she was relieved to have the documents finally executed and notarized. She could focus more on caring for Jody and now manage more efficiently Jody’s finances and health care decisions, as she is the attorney in fact or agent for Jody.
If you find yourself with a similar situation where the signer is unable to sign his/her name on a document that requires notarization, don’t feel you are out of luck. Plan B is signing by a mark.
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