By Carol Salter—As mentioned in previous articles, I work in a hospital. Requests for notarizations are as diverse as the patients we serve. Notaries who serve in the hospital setting are never sure what they will be asked to notarized which makes life exciting and/or terrifying depending upon the level of competence and knowledge of the notary.
One form I have seen a few times relates to learner’s permits. In our state, if both parents cannot be with the child when obtaining their learner’s permit, then the absent parent signs a form which must be notarized. This form, in effect gives the sole present parent authority to allow the child to obtain their drivers permit.
Other times, I have seen forms which give temporary guardianship of children to adults other than their family. This is mainly for the purpose of travel, summer camps, etc. These forms grant full authority to the guardian over the child named in the document. They make decisions regarding health care treatments, among other things. This form needs the notary’s full attention.
When faced with these various guardianship forms, it is imperative that the notary makes sure the signers are properly identified. Think of the tragedy that could occur if the notary does not take every precaution to properly identify the signer; and the signer turns out to be not who they say they are. We have an obligation to protect the most vulnerable population, our children.
The notary needs to take pains to notice the body language of the signer and the child, if they are present. They need to be aware of eye contact, speed of the transaction, nervousness or any such sign that would belie fraudulent activity. Remember, one of the notary’s obligations is to detect and deter fraud.
So keep a watchful eye, properly identify signers and be aware of all that takes place during the notarization. Make sure every thing is recorded in your journal for proof of due diligence. You are the last line of defense, so guard well in matters of guardianship.