When the Signer is NOT the Appointment Setter

It happens all the time. You get the call for a notary job and the person who’s arranging the appointment is NOT the person who will be signing the documents. Their mom is in the hospital and needs a POA. Their dad is in the nursing home and wants to transfer property with a quitclaim deed . The person requiring the service has entrusted someone else with the responsibility of securing your services. When this happens, follow these three tips to ensure that the signing goes smoothly:


  1. When you get the call:
  • Verify that the person receiving the service is alert, coherent, and understands what’s going to occur.
  • Confirm that the person receiving the service has valid identification in accordance with the laws of your state.
  • Inquire as to whether the document requires witnesses, and if so, articulate any instructions the signer will need to follow (valid ID, appear in person, etc.).
  • Find out who will be responsible for paying your fee and share the types of payment you accept.
  • Get the name of the person receiving the service. This might seem obvious but consider it a friendly reminder. There’s nothing like getting to a hospital, nursing home, or apartment complex and not being able to recall the name of the person you’re there to see.


           2. Upon arrival introduce yourself to the person receiving the services and explain what you have been asked to do and what the signer can expect. Focus on the signer. Make eye contact and assess awareness. You can’t perform the notarization if the person is not alert or doesn’t understand what’s going on.  

          3. Seek a direct response from the signer. It’s okay to use the set up person for support, but your main focus should be on communicating with the signer.


One area in which a lack of understanding can negatively impact the signing is with regard to witnesses. Many times the document itself calls out who is not eligible to serve as a witness. Additionally, the notary laws of your state probably have something to say on this matter. As a rule of thumb, a person who is signing the document or who has a vested interest in it cannot also witness the document.

Many POA’s stipulate that health care workers or employees of healthcare facilities cannot witness such documents. A little more work up front could mean the difference between a profitable, stress-free appointment and a wasted tank of gas as well as wasted time. Just because a person knows a notary is needed doesn’t mean that he or she understands what goes into ensuring that the notarization can take place.

Legal disclaimer: The American Association of Notaries seeks to provide timely articles for notaries to assist them with information and ideas for managing their notary businesses, enhancing their notary educations, and securing their notary supplies but makes no claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained . Information in this article is not intended as legal advice. We are not attorneys. We do not pretend to be attorneys. Though we will sometimes provide information regarding federal laws and statutes and the laws and statutes of each state, we have gathered the information from a variety of sources. We do not warrant the information gathered from those sources. It is your responsibility to know the appropriate laws governing your state. Notaries are advised to seek the advice of an attorney in their state if they have legal questions about how to notarize.

Texas notary bonds and errors and omissions insurance policies provided by this insurance agency, the American Association of Notaries, Inc., are underwritten by Western Surety Company (established 1900). American Association of Notaries is owned by Kal Tabbara, a licensed insurance agent in Texas.