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Results of various surveys reveal that there is a lot of confusion among lawyers and notaries as to what exactly their extent of power and duty is and whether it is a legal duty3 of a notary to ensure that the Signor has comprehended the contents of the document he is signing…
Even if it were agreed that notaries should judge whether document signers comprehend the documents being executed, precisely what does that mean' What is the legal test of whether a signer comprehends a document being executed' One version of a legal standard for a signer to comprehend a document is whether the signer understands both the detailed substance of the terms of the document and the practical and legal consequences of the instrument. If this is the test, the mental competence of the signer would necessarily be implicated, for a signer could not possibly comprehend the full meaning and import of a document if the signer were mentally incapacitated. 5Obviously though, even a competent individual might not comprehend a particular instrument.
Further, substantial confusion is caused by the imprecise use of the concepts of "competence" and "comprehension."6 As suggested above, while competence refers to one's ability to understand the nature and consequences of his/her transactions generally, comprehension refers to one's actual understanding of the nature and consequences of the particular transaction.7 Yet, these definitions are regularly substituted for one an other, just as the terms competence and comprehension are in artfully interchanged as though they were synonymous. 8
Now, the entire discussion leads one to the most important moot point of notaries ve ...
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