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  • Writer's pictureBrian Klein

A Guide to Notarizing Documents for Seniors

Picture of a woman signing documents with a senior citizen couple.

Are you a senior citizen in or around Reading, Pennsylvania, Berks County, looking to get your documents notarized? Perhaps you are searching for a mobile notary to help a beloved senior in your life? Or maybe you're a notary public, like us at Blue Ink Notary, eager to assist senior citizens in your area with their paperwork efficiently and respectfully?


Whichever category you fall into, you're in the right place. In this guide, we'll look at some of the types of documents seniors frequently need to have notarized and share some valuable tips for notaries working with senior citizens.


Types of Documents Seniors Frequently Need Notarized


  • Power of Attorney (POA): One of the most common documents seniors require notarization for is a Power of Attorney. This legal document grants someone they trust the authority to make decisions on behalf of the senior, especially in financial or healthcare matters, if they become incapacitated.

  • Wills and Trusts: Seniors may need to have their wills or trust documents updated and notarized to ensure their wishes regarding their assets and estates upon passing.

  • Real Estate Documents: Seniors may need to sell their home if they are moving into a senior living or care facility. Whether it's transferring property, refinancing a mortgage, or signing a lease agreement, seniors will require notarization for various real estate-related documents.

  • Medical Directives: Advance health care directives, including living wills and healthcare proxies, are essential for seniors to outline their medical treatment preferences and to designate someone to make healthcare decisions for them if they cannot.

Senior couple signing documents with a notary.
  • Financial Documents: From loan agreements to pension-related paperwork, many financial documents require notarization for seniors to validate and execute them legally.


  • Legal Contracts: Seniors may also need notarization for various legal contracts, such as partnership agreements, rental agreements, or business contracts.

  • Vehicle Title Transfers: When seniors sell or gift a vehicle, notarization of the title transfer is often necessary to complete the transaction legally.


Tips for Notaries Working with Senior Citizens


Why do our senior citizens require special attention when notarizing documents for them? Unfortunately, elder fraud is a harsh reality these days and as notaries, we play a vital part in helping to prevent it. From mobility issues and hearing or vision concerns to their understanding and willingness to sign the document before them, each of these are items notaries must be aware of and be able to assess when working with seniors. Notaries need to determine if the signer is able to sign and whether or not he/she is being forced to sign something under duress. Does the senior possess the cognitive awareness to understand what it is they are signing is another determination notaries must make.


With knowledge of some of the needs of seniors, here's how you, the notary, can tailor your approach:

  • Be Flexible: Flexibility is a great attribute to have. Some seniors may prefer mornings while others may prefer afternoons. Be accommodating and work around their schedules when they feel most comfortable and will be less stressed.

  • Build Trust: Some seniors may be apprehensive so be sure to warmly introduce yourself upon arrival, explain your role clearly and answer questions they may have as openly and honestly as possible...and always without providing legal advice. Should they have questions that are out of your purview as a notary, know who to contact to ensure their questions will be answered to their satisfaction!

  • Ensure Proper Identification: Verify the senior's identification carefully to ensure they are who they claim to be. Acceptable forms of ID include a driver's license, passport, or state-issued ID card. Some seniors may no longer drive and have expired drivers licenses, state IDs or passports; be aware of the other methods allowed in your state to verify signers if the senior does not have a current photo ID.

  • Provide a Comfortable Environment: Create a comfortable and accessible environment for seniors during the notarization process. Offer seating with back support, good lighting, and a quiet space free from distractions. Ask where they would feel most comfortable signing.

  • Be Patient and Understanding: Seniors may take more time to read and comprehend documents due to various factors like vision issues or cognitive changes. Be patient, allow them enough time to review the contents of the document so that they truly understand it.

  • Use Plain Language: Communicate well by speaking slowly and clearly, avoiding complex terms when explaining documents to seniors. Using simple language and breaking down complex terms into simpler explanations helps ensure they fully understand the document and the consequences of signing it.

  • Offer Assistance Tools for Signing: Some seniors may have difficulty signing documents due to mobility issues, hand tremors, arthritis or chronic disease. Offer assistance if needed, such as providing a stable surface for signing or a clipboard, thick barreled pens for those who may struggle to hold a normal pen, signature guides to ensure they sign and initial in the correct places and magnifiers to help them to read small print.

Senior citizen couple at home
  • Respect Privacy and Confidentiality: Maintain strict confidentiality regarding the contents of the documents and any discussions with the senior client. Assure them that their personal information is secure and will not be shared without their consent.

  • Clarify Intent and Capacity: Ensure that the senior is signing the document of their own free will and that they understand the implications of what they are signing. Clarify their intent and capacity to make informed decisions.

  • Be Aware of Cognitive Concerns: Cognitive decline affects many seniors and requires additional considerations on the notary's part. While notaries cannot diagnose the senior, we can observe & assess their understanding and willingness. If you are concerned about the signer's competency, you can:

    • Request other witnesses to verify the signer's capacity to sign

    • Recommend the signer and his/her loved ones consult with an attorney or medical professional to asses their competency or

    • Decline to complete the notarization.

A Word about Witnesses: Documents like wills or powers of attorney often require 1 or 2 witnesses aside from the notary when being executed. Many healthcare and senior living facilities will not allow their staff to act as witnesses in order to avoid any legal issues.


If your document(s) require witnesses, be sure to try to have a trusted friend, neighbor or other family member available to serve as witness. Roommates or friends at the facility where you beloved senior is can act as witnesses as well as long as they are willing and mentally aware. When using friends or family members as witnesses, remember that those persons should not be listed as an agent of the POA or a beneficiary of the will or trust, either directly or indirectly.


If you do not have anyone available to act as a witness, ask the notary you are working with if they can supply witnesses. It will likely be an extra fee, and many notaries may partner with other notaries in their area as witnesses when needed.

Note: Notaries may not give you or the seniors in your life legal advice so please be sure to consult with an elder law attorney in your area to discuss any documents you may have questions about.


Notarizing documents for seniors is a crucial service that requires patience, understanding, and attention to detail. By following these tips and guidelines, notaries can provide excellent service to senior citizens, ensuring their documents are notarized correctly and with the utmost respect and professionalism.


Blue Ink Notary in Reading, Pennsylvania, Berks County is committed to assisting seniors with their notarization needs with care and expertise. Contact us today for reliable and friendly notary services tailored to seniors' unique requirements.


 

Blue Ink Notary, based in Greater Reading and serving Berks County as well as Lancaster, Montgomery, Chester, Lehigh, Schuylkill and Lebanon counties, has been helping numerous Pennsylvania residents and businesses get their documents notarized since 2019. I am generally available Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm but am also available for emergency early morning, evening & weekend appointments to help you with your documents, so contact me any time with questions. 


To discuss your notary needs:

📲 Call or text 484-509-1405 

🖥️ Visit online at blueinknotarypa.com and message us in our chat box in the lower right corner of your screen or visit the Contact Us page.

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