Written by Megan Hafenstein, as originally published in The Reverse Review.

Our industry serves the senior citizen community. Unfortunately, as many seniors age, they sometimes have difficulty carrying out everyday tasks such as signing their name. Although their mind remains sharp, they lose the ability to carefully sign their names to important documents.

When this scenario arises, reverse mortgage professionals sometimes believe it is necessary to use an existing power of attorney or have the borrower execute a transaction-specific power of attorney in order to execute the loan. However, use of a power of attorney is not necessary because all 50 states permit an individual to sign his or her name by a mark “x.”

Some notaries and closing agents may not be familiar with the process of obtaining valid signatures by mark (“x”). Reverse professionals who understand this method will be better prepared to serve their clients’ needs and guide them through the closing process. When this type of situation arises, one can still obtain valid signatures on important loan documents by having the borrower sign by mark. Typically, this is done because of a physical limitation, not because of mental impairments. Although signing a document by mark is allowed nationwide, each state has its own rules, parameters and requirements.

The standard requirements are:

The borrower must be present in front of the notary

The borrower must have proper identification

The borrower must be able to comprehend and communicate clearly that their signature is by their own will and with no concerns as to competency


The mark should be witnessed by two persons other than the notary

The notary should record journal entry signer’s mark, the witnesses’ signatures and any additional information regarding special circumstances

Note that witnesses are generally required to attend the signing in order to confirm the signature by mark. Therefore it may be necessary to arrange for additional parties to be present at the signing of any documents. In addition, standard acknowledgement forms for lender security instruments may need to be altered to account for taking an acknowledgment by mark. For instance, a standard acknowledgment form may need to be altered to indicate the signer signed by his or her mark in the presence of the witnesses.

In some cases, a signer is unable to even make an “x” and in those cases a signature by a proxy may be allowed depending on state law. Some states in which a signature by proxy is allowed are: Florida, Washington, Colorado, New Mexico, Michigan, North Carolina and California. As mentioned, each state may have its own requirements. Please check the applicable state’s laws regarding specific signature by mark procedures.

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