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February 2, 2017

Who Did You Notarize?

Filed under: Ken Edelstein,Popular on Linked In — Tags: — admin @ 1:37 am

Last night I had an easy assignment, a deed and an affidavit. The couple would be signing both documents, and the IDs were solid. The deed was routine. They were properly named on the deed, and the notary section only needed correction to the Venue. Not so with the affidavit, that had a subtle, but IMHO a major flaw.

The affiants were mentioned at the top of the affidavit as “the below sworn borrowers”, but never by name! Nowhere on the document did their names appear. As signatures are an illegible scrawl, it would be impossible to determine specifically who was notarized. Their names did not appear in the notary section either.

There are several approaches that can be taken. The most usual solution is to ignore the notary section on the document and prepare “loose acknowledgements” and attach. I usually do it that way to identify the affiants. However, this was an original document (not emailed) and the request was to notarize directly on the page if possible. The “fix” was simple, but it introduced an additional error that required correction.

I asked the affiants to “neatly clearly and completely print their names, as on their IDs below their signatures”. One of them did so precisely correct. The other did not. The affiant’s first name (using my name in this example) was Kenneth. But when printed under the signature it was printed as Ken. That’s not the name that was notarized. And, as that printing was the only place on the document where the name was printed it had to be right. On the deed the name preprinted “under the line” was Kenneth, the same as on the ID.

I had Kenneth draw a thin single line thru “Ken Edelstein” and had both parties initial the change. All signatories initial changes. I explained that contractions of legal names on serious documents could cause later problems. Kenneth was then asked to print his full name again, and proceeded to do so. Now it was clear that the persons notarized were properly named “in print” directly on the document. Perhaps I should have printed the names from the ID. But, it is my practice to only write in the “notary section” and not touch any area outside of the notary section / Venue (if at the top of the page).

Getting the name right is possibly the single most important thing we do. And, it’s often an uphill battle – some clients are so used to their “self given name variation” that they feel their “mental change of name” – is a legal change of name. Sometimes I relate the story that I could, with a fistful of cash; take title in the name “Suzy Snowflake”. The problem arises when I wish to sell and prove that I am the owner of the property!

Who are you notarizing, stating with your stamp and embosser that they were identified pursuant to your local governing laws? Do you take their verbal assurance, or blithely accept the preprinted name on the document? To me the only right answer is that the name on the Govt. issued Photo ID is their name. Exception: Valid ID with original marriage document supporting the adopting of married last name. I also feel the name of the person(s) being notarized must appear in print on the document; a vague reference to “borrowers signing below” is not enough.

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