After the legal document blog post, I’ve frequently been asked how one should handle a situation in which an elderly loved one has a difficult time signing important paperwork. While most blog posts consist of me recapping recent antics, compliments of my parents, this excerpt is more of an educational awareness for how to deal with a situation like legal document signing.
First and foremost, your loved one should only sign a legal document if they are fully aware of what they are actually signing and understand the content within. That being said, I know I haven’t always read word for word everything I’ve signed in my life, and can only hope that because of my oversight I haven’t signed away my first born and left arm while purchasing a car or home. As long as your loved one can comprehend each section of the document and can acknowledge their understanding of it, then you are in good shape. It is also a good idea to have your loved sign early in the day. Seniors tend to be more alert right after breakfast, and if your loved one is anything like my dad, after the Price is Right is over, naps are fair game.
Make sure your loved one is alert before the signing process. You don’t want them signing over their Estate to their son Greg, when in fact their son’s name is Carl. Ask them to name their closest family members. Make sure they know the timeframe that they are currently in. If they seem off kilter, it is better to put off the signing for another day when your loved one may be feeling their best.
Also, and this is a big one; use a felt tipped pen. It is a great tip when dealing with a loved one experiencing a weak grip. With a felt tipped pen, they won’t have to apply much pressure to the paper, resulting in a more legible signature. If your loved one’s signature isn’t always legible, be sure to have two (non- family) witnesses present. Be sure that they are a disinterested party and will seek no benefit regarding the legal document itself.
If you have a loved one that is immobile or has difficulty getting around, you want to make sure it is possible that the Notary can come to the home. Not only will it reduce the stress when having to figure out transportation, but your loved one will likely feel more comfortable signing legal paperwork on their own home turf. There are less distractions to deal with, and your loved one can feel more assurance that their privacy isn’t at risk. Privacy was a big concern of my dad’s when signing his Will and Testament. Although, I don’t think anyone within earshot would have targeted his homestead after finding out that he was harboring a small Franklin Mint coin collection to be divided equally amongst his three children in his Will. All $358 worth…
Ideally, having important legal documents regarding end of life is helpful to have far in advance, before your loved one struggles with signing their name on a dotted line, but I know that late planning isn’t always avoidable. If you and your loved one can utilize these helpful tips, then I assure you, it will make the process go a lot smoother.
If you have any questions regarding legal documents, the signing process, or just want to ask something completely off topic, feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to get back to you!