Signing last year. Couple in their mid-fifties, husband handicapped and signing with difficulty. During my confirmation call, he warned me of his condition and I made extra time in my calendar to accommodate. Aside from that, the signing went smoothly with no additional complications. I completed my journal entry, wished them well and left for the next one.
Fast forward to this year: Received a letter from an attorney representing the husband’s adult children. Attorney requested a copy of the journal entry. As is required by law, she provided names and date of signing. I copied that entry and emailed it to her.
A week later, I received a letter from an attorney representing the wife. Same request, same response.
A month after that, I received a call from the attorney for the wife, asking me for my recollection of the signing. Told him I could not breach confidentiality without a court order. He responded with a letter informing me I was going to be deposed by both him and the attorney for the adult children. I responded back with a polite, but firm, statement that I would not breach confidentiality without a court order.
Subpoena came last week. Adult children are suing the wife, stating that their father was incapable of signing loan documents and that she falsified his signature on the documents, thereby invalidating the loan.
Hm. What am I… chopped liver? As if I would have allowed any such thing!
Apparently trying to invalidate the notarial act(s) is the common first step in this type of suit.
So off I go to court, journal in hand, to prove that I did witness the husband actually sign all documents involved in that refinance.
Moral of the story? Keep an accurate and complete journal.
Sorry to hear this Judi - did you put your E&O carrier on notice? And do you have a bond in your state? Hope this doesn’t adversely affect you.
Best of luck - keep us posted.
And by the way - no kidding!! You are so right!!
Hope all goes well! Thanks for sharing!
Surprising they would challenge the signature without knowledge. I would have expected they would challenge on the limited capacity of the husband.
Nope. I called the lender, a very large national firm, and warned them. I had a short, intense conversation with a gentleman in their legal department, who took the names of all parties disclosed to me, thanked me for the information, and congratulated me for refusing to be panicked into making statements.
I just received an email from the attorney for the plaintiffs, advising me that my testimony and/or deposition would no longer be required.
Much appreciate your cautionary post. I do think they just use a very wide net to start. I commend you for not panicking and refusing to discuss the matter without a court order. And getting the names of all parties you spoke to who gave their names. Also for contacting the Lender. You’re on the ball, lady!
Sort of like a circus seal, balancing on a big ball with a smaller one on my nose…
Ah, well. Never a dull moment. And a good reminder to all those out there who don’t realize that we are uniquely vulnerable. Take the time to note that extra info at the table, and update your journal daily!
Thank you for sharing your experience.
I am so sorry that your dealing with this drama!!!
that is awful. I was deposed a few weeks ago. Similar situation a husband was suing the children of his deceased wife (not their father) and stating that they must have switched out pages of the Will that was signed when we were all in the room and everything was signed there in front of me. In FL a Notary Journal is NOT required by law, but I kept one anyway and it simply showed that I did verify the client and their ID and they were competent. I and one of the nurses signed as witness. The guys lawyer tried asking me and interrogating me that if they have a physical ailment could they be competent to sign? I said seriously? Yes they could be physically paralyzed and be fully competent to sign as they can talk and move their head and hold a whole conversation which has nothing to do with the fact that they may or may not have their limbs, or use of their limbs etc. Repeatedly asked me over and over.
I received a similar phone call from a relative who said something similar. This was a year and a half after the appointment. I didn’t answer any questions and I never heard anything again. This was four years ago. I think we all know we have to be very careful when notarizing for the elderly and make sure that you question them about their understanding of the documents and what is happening. If they show any sign of confusion, I’m gone.
I just recently did a closing for a gentleman in his 80’s whose wife passed 3 weeks prior. Due to the age of the gentleman and having just gone through a death, I requested the adult children to be present. Only one was unable to attend in person so I requested we did FaceTime so he could also see his fathers ability to sign and understand the documents. I think I will be doing this more often when I have elderly clients. The children all thanked me & were witnesses to exactly what their dad signed.
That is wonderful that you did that and I’m sure that they appreciated the steps you took with this appointment. Professional Notary Service delivered with care and excellence
Although the State of Florida does not require Notaries to keep a journal, this is one of the reasons why I, (and all Florida notaries should) keep a journal as well.
BRAVO, BRAVO, BRAVO, @judikidd! Thank you for sharing your experience and outcome! I am glad that was resolved without dragging you into court. Can you please expound on the “short, intense conversation” with the lender’s legal department? Thank you.
Hope everyone has a boat load of cash to spend on legal fees. You did your job, and did it right.
It is amazing to me what families do to each other.
As an Insurance Agent I don’t sign up Life Insurance prospects due to Incompetency etc. I try to do the same as a Notary/Loan Signer. Saves the Hassle. By seeing this, to me it’s the best policy.
So sorry this happened. But, not all notaries are honest. Years ago. I suddenly found that we (my x, now deceased), had put a second mortage on our house. Easier signing fewer mortgage docs then. Husband was obviously not trustworthy. Someone else had signed and it was notirized!!! I have seen several other notarial acts that were not above board.
Glad you have covered yourself here.
Not sure all signers want their kids to know everything about their finances until they are gone. My sister was like that. She and hubby did questionable things with money. She and hubby died of covid within a few days of each other. Their son who was the personal representative had all kinds if unpleasant surprises. I wouid be sure to get permission in writing to involve others.