Notarizing for a Low IQ Person

Notarizing for a Low IQ Person

Colorado Notary LawOccasionally, a Colorado notary may encounter an adult with a low IQ (intelligence quotient), that needs a document notarized.  Psychologists and psychiatrists are likely to use a low IQ of 70 or lower to diagnose a person with mental retardation.

IQ distribution curve

IQ distribution curve, standard deviation 15. Wikipedia

By convention, mental retardation is defined as having a low IQ more than two standard deviations below the average or mean IQ.  With an average IQ of 100 and a standard deviation of 15, two standard deviations is 30 points.

About two-thirds of the population scores are between IQ 85 and IQ 115, one standard deviation. About 2.5% of the population score a low IQ of 70 or lower, and about 2.5% score a high IQ of 130 or higher.

Document Purpose and Consequences

Notaries must be careful when notarizing a document for a person that may not understand the purpose and consequences of signing the document.  This may occur with senior citizens that may have a mental impairment due to a stroke, Alzheimer’s, dementia, tumor or brain injury.  Also, if a minor child needs a document notarized, the child must be aware of the purpose and consequences of the document.

With any situation, where understanding and judgment may be impaired, including a person under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the notary should attempt to carry on a normal conversation with the signer.  If the signer is able to provide coherent, relevant answers to notary questions, that is evidence that they are aware.  The notary may also ask questions relating to the document, such as asking the signer to explain the purpose of the document.

Reasonable Care

If the notary uses reasonable care to determine that the signer understands the purpose and consequences of signing the document, the notary may proceed.  If the notary is aware that the person has been diagnosed as mentally incompetent by a medical professional, or ruled as incompetent by a court, then the notary should not proceed.

It is useful to have one or more witnesses, that also agree that the signer was aware of the purpose and consequences of signing the document.

Image Credit
Normalized distribution of IQ with a mean of 100 and standard deviation 15.  Wikipedia, by DMCQ CC-BY-SA-3.0

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