The First Name Notary Law
I meet a lot of people as a notary. Very few of them are notaries. Some, fortunately very few; proclaim themselves as experts on notary law and procedures. Of the more comical are the signing related personnel who have the (fictitious) power to authorize backdating. Others have told me it’s OK for me to notarize someone who has no ID, because “they are an honest person”.
Today I met a yet another self styled expert on notary law. They advised me of “The First Name Notary Law” – of which I was not familiar. There were several commercial documents to be signed, as on the signature line by “Eddie Hallibull”. Everyone knew Eddie, and he briefly “flashed” his New Jersey driver license – commenting on how nice a picture it contained.
It was unusual for someone to “flash” their ID, normally people hand me their driver license. Not having seen much more than the picture, I asked for Mr. Hallibull to hand the license to me. I then noticed that the name on the license was Eddy Hallibull, not Eddie Hallibull. “There seems to be a spelling error on the signature line”, I mentioned to the office administrator. That is when I learned of the “First Name Notary Law”. I did ask the affiant “what is your legal name – as on your birth certificate, and have you legally changed your name”. He replied his legal name was Eddy Hallibull, and he prefers Eddie; but never had a legal name change.
“Oh, it’s OK for you to notarize the first name as Eddie”, sayeth the office admin. “But it’s not the same as on the license”, I replied. The admin then relayed to me that she “frequently” ran into notaries who were not familiar with the “First Name Notary Law”. She lamented that she often had problems with this lack of notary training. Perplexed, I first asked if the admin was a notary. “No”, but I do know the applicable law, was the reply.
Intrigued, I asked for a complete explanation of this glaring oversight in my knowledge. I was taught the relevance of phonetic pronunciation to notarization. Prior to going into the details let me go on record that the explanation that follows is pure hogwash and total rubbish; and has no relevance whatsoever to proper notary procedures. That said, the office administrator offered the following reasoning why it would be perfectly proper for me to proceed with the notarization.
Mr. Kenneth-A-Edelstein.com – what we have here are variations in the first name that are spoken exactly the same way. Eddy is spoken the same way as Eddie. They are equivalents; both spoken and legally. If Mr. Hallibull were being sworn in, in a courtroom, there would be no way to tell which spelling was being sworn to. Don’t you see my point? Both are the same! As they are pronounced the same; they are legally equal and either may be used at any time; both are interchangeable as it’s impossible to tell, when spoken; which variation is being used.
I brought up the subject of the words “there” and “their” and asked, though they are spoken the same way if they were “interchangeable”. Somewhat taken aback by my “counterlogic” – I was told that the analogy is inappropriate to the subject at hand. “What we are discussing is
the First Name Law”, not the “finer” points of spelling and grammar. So much for logical counter arguments.
Somewhat stunned by this manifest display of twisted logic, it took me a few moments to recover. It was obvious the office administrator had given this utter baloney to notaries in the past; lamentably, with some measure of success! I said that the best I could do was to notarize
the Eddy “variation” – and promised to research the “First Name Notary Law”; vowing to return and redo the notarizations at no charge – if I could find the appropriate legal citation/law.
After completing the notarization (legally) I did ask the admin if she had the business card that I presented upon arrival. It was handed to me. I made a great display of reviewing the documents, saying that I was checking for the slightest flaw or improper date, etc. During that time I deftly pocketed my business card. As I had refused to accept “Eddie” – I doubt if they will be calling me again. To be more honest; make that I hope they will never call again.
The lesson to be learned: Always fill in the notary section – with the ID in hand. Never complete the name in the notary section based on how it is preprinted on the document. You use the ID to establish the name of the person signing – don’t let spelling “changes” either typos or deliberate – cause you to enter the wrong name in the notary section. It is definitely your responsibility to get the legal name in the notary section. It would be a lame defense to say “that’s the way they had it on the signature line of the document”.