A Colorado notary may notarize a document when the customer (principal) is unable to sign a signature. Colorado notary law CRS 12-55-110.5 describes the procedure for the accommodation of signers with physical limitations. When it appears that the person has a physical limitation that restricts the person’s ability to sign by writing or making a signature by mark, the name of the person may be signed by another person, other than the notary public.
It must be signed at the direction and in the presence of the principal whose name is to be signed, and in the presence of the notary. The following words must appear, under or near the signature:
“Signature written by (name of individual directed to sign), at the direction and in the presence of (name as signed), on whose behalf the signature was written.”
This is known as a signature by proxy.
If it appears that the principal is unable to communicate verbally or in writing, the notary may use signals or electronic or mechanical means to communicate with the principal, and to complete the notarial certificate or transaction.
Signature by Mark
Colorado law does not specify a detailed procedure for a signature by mark, such as making an X. Since an X, cross or other mark is easy to make, the notary should use a high level of care to prevent fraud when a normally written signature is not used.
Historic notarized documents from Colorado Territory, 1861-1876, show a signature by mark or cross in the following form:
Example 1: cross mark, Example 2: X mark of Cheyenne Indian Chief Black Kettle on Indian Treaty
The Model Notary Act of 2010, published by the National Notary Association (NNA), provides a procedure for signature by mark in Section 5-3.
The principal must make the mark in the presence of the notary and two witnesses, disinterested in the document. Both witnesses must sign their own names beside the mark. The notary then writes below the mark: “Mark affixed by (name of signer by mark) in the presence of (names of both witnesses) and the undersigned notary.”
The notary should record the name, address, signature or mark, and thumbprint of the principal and each witness in the notary journal.
No one should attempt to help by grabbing the hand of the principal to guide their signature or mark. The signer must sign on their own free will.
If the signer is unable to grip a pen, due to a physical limitation, there is a specially designed pen available, shaped like a wishbone, so that a tight hand grip is not required. One brand name is the Ergo-Sof PenAgain.
Be sure to follow notary law and best practices when notarizing a document using a signature by mark or signature by proxy for a person with physical limitations.
Update [2019-05-17] Colorado RULONA laws became effective July 1, 2018, and no longer include any procedure for using a signature by mark. A signature by proxy procedure is described in CRS 24-21-509, Signature if individual unable to sign.
(1) If an individual is physically unable to sign a record, the individual may, in the presence of the notarial officer, direct an individual other than the notarial officer to sign the individual’s name on the record. The notarial officer shall insert “Signature affixed by (name of other individual) at the direction of (name of individual)” or words of similar import under or near the signature.
(2) A notary public may use signals or electronic or mechanical means to take an acknowledgment from, administer an oath or affirmation to, or otherwise communicate with any individual in the presence of the notary public when it appears that the individual is unable to communicate verbally or in writing.