The Role of A Notary to Prevent Elder Financial Abuse:
A notary plays an important role to prevent financial abuse to seniors at the signing of any legal documents especially 'estate planning' documents. These life-changing documents include, but not limited to- will, living trust, power of attorney, medical directives etc.
A notary public must be diligent in demanding signers physical presence at the signing, be diligent in accepting proper ID of the signer, and engage in conversation with the elder-signer to make sure the signer is signing these estate planning documents on their own choice and is aware of the impacts of these documents once they are signed, notarized, and recorded at the recorder's office.
A notary should not administer an oath, a confirmation, or notarization of documents if the notary suspects foul play in the estate planning documents or related activities. This fact is always true in notarizing any type of document or notarial act.
It is not rare for estate planning related documents to be signed at hospital beds, nursing homes etc., where attention to details sometimes are diluted and fraudulent actions have taken place. It is a pity that there are numerous real incidents of elder financial abuses committed by family members, care givers, etc.
Notaries are public officials, it is their duty to protect the public, especially elders. For that end, notaries should take 'reasonable care' during estate planning notary appointments.
P.S. This article is only for information purposes, the author is not an attorney, a financial planner or even a tax expert. If you have any questions in these matters, please consult with appropriate licensed experts.