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Legal Aid of North Carolina

Notarios

Beware of notarios peddling powers of attorney

Kate Woomer-Deters, Staff Attorney, Immigrant Rights Project, North Carolina Justice Center

Kate Woomer-Deters

RALEIGH, June 2, 2017 – Immigration attorney Kate Woomer-Deters is asking immigrants, immigration attorneys and other service providers to be on the lookout for notarios (notaries) who sell powers of attorney to immigrants worried about deportation.

"These notarios sell powers of attorney that are often one paragraph long and completely useless to anyone trying to plan for a family emergency," said Woomer-Deters, an attorney with the Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project at the North Carolina Justice Center.

Deportations can separate families, leaving minor children stranded in the U.S. without a legal guardian. Powers of attorney allow immigrants who fear deportation to empower someone to act in their name to manage their finances and provide some care for their children.

"But," Woomer-Deters warns, "the documents have to be prepared correctly and clients need to be provided proper legal advice about what the documents can and cannot accomplish. Notaries are NOT authorized to draft legal documents of any kind. Further, law schools, non-profits and some private attorneys are providing powers of attorney for free or at low cost."

For more information, read the Justice Center's community advisory or download the Center's Emergency Planning Guide for Immigrants, both of which are in English and Spanish.

If you are a volunteer attorney who would like to assist families prepare Powers of Attorney, contact the NC Pro Bono Center at staff@ncprobono.org.  Substantive training and opportunities to assist will be provided.