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April 5, 2012

Your purpose is NOT to notarize?

You DON’T go to Notarize

Many notaries have lost sight of their primary responsibility, and feel it is their primary mission to go to the assignment to notarize the signatures. This is not the case. The primary mission is to determine if the documents / IDs – qualify for notarization. Only then can the client’s desires be accommodated.

A recent situation that I experienced will illustrate. And, as you will see the affiant DID have “Government issued Photo ID” but did NOT qualify for notarization. In the example that follows, for privacy purposes; the last name has been changed.

I receive a “piggyback” assignment from a very reputable Title Settlement company to process a very high dollar refinance. They stressed that the client appointment was difficult to arrange and that they were willing to pay a higher than usual rate for very careful processing of a large number of documents. In other words: It had to be done right the first time. I had requested a borrower contact number, but was asked to NOT call; just arrive on schedule.

When I received the appointment confirmation the names of the borrowers were Susan and Moe Rice. I immediately replied that Moe was more commonly used as a “nickname” and they should verify that indeed was the true borrower first name. I received no response other than an immediate pre-payment of the full amount to my PayPal account.

The document set was truly huge, over 500 pages (counting the borrower copy), and required many notarizations. It arrived barely in time to print and dash to the signing location. Still literally hot from the LaserJet printer, copies in hand – off I went with 2.5 hours allocated to process.

On location, after greetings; I requested the borrowers IDs. Hers was fine, his was a showstopper! The docs had “Moe” but his NY driver license had “Mortimer”. “Mr. Rice” I asked, “What is your legal name”. He replied that “that is a complex issue”. He said that his birth name is not translatable into English. Further discussion revealed that his legal name (at least in the US), came from his Naturalization document, and that Mortimer Rice was also on his passport. He offered me several other New York issued IDs, with photo, that had the name “Moe Rice” on them. I again asked him what was his legal name. He replied “Mortimer Rice” but prefers to use “Moe Rice” and that virtually all of his dealings are in the “Moe” name. He did have a prior driver license in the “Moe” name; however as it did not have his true legal name (per his statement) I could not accept it.

The documents all had “Moe Rice” everywhere. I thought about the “Name Affidavit” but that requires me to notarize “Moe Rice” and enter “Mortimer Rice” as an AKA – the reverse of the Name Affidavit function. Furthermore the existing Name Affidavit would have required me to notarize “Moe Rice” and, of course; that not being his stated legal name, is impossible.

I took a picture of his New York State Driver License “Mortimer Rice” and sent it to the Settlement Company explaining that I had no option but to adjourn the session. In email correspondence with Settlement; they determined that a legal procedure will be necessary to change his Title. The first thought was having me notarize a Quit Claim Deed, but I pointed out that I would have to notarize the seller “Moe Rice” to transfer the property to “Mortimer Rice” – also impossible.

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  1. One need not sign using one’s legal name. One can conduct business under any non-fraudulent name one wishes. What was it about the NY ID offered by the signer that failed to convince you that was A name that Moe legitimately used?

    Comment by G — April 5, 2012 @ 2:23 pm

  2. IMHO, there are two perspectives involved in deciding the identity of a signer. You can go by the word and do it. Better still, you can go by the word and spirit to decide on it. Here there are two legitimate photo IDs available wherein the names are slightly but acceptably different. In such circumstances, a sworn affidavit about the genuineness of the two different names will suffice to accept the identity of the signer. Of course, it is important that the Notary has to satisfy himself in this regard that no perceptible malafide intention is seen in the response of the signer in this regard. That is again subjective.

    Comment by Krish — April 11, 2012 @ 6:35 pm

  3. Please read the sentence \You can go by the word and do it. Better still, you can go by the word and spirit to decide on it.\ as \While following the rules,You can go either by the letter or both letter and spirit to decide on it\.
    Sorry for the erroneously worded statement.

    Comment by Krish — April 12, 2012 @ 4:18 am

  4. I agree with G, we sign with AKA, FKA, and NKA all the time. Signature affidavits abound with alias names. Why would this not work with a revamp of the docs? Always room to learn more!

    Comment by John — April 13, 2012 @ 8:40 am

  5. I agree with the original posterr 100% and have been in that same situation many times. These days, I dont stres out over it. I let the companies know that I will only be able to notarize it in the name which appears on the ID and that is how they can expect docs to come back if I am to continue with the signing. I hope eveyone takes note of what you said about the Signature Affidavits and the AKA Deeds. THHS is very important.The order of the names is the key,. I.E. Mortimer can say that he is MOE, not hte other way around for notarizing purposes. 1st commentor has moissed the point completely- plases study your notary laws on identifying a signer.

    Comment by dannotary — April 14, 2012 @ 4:12 pm

  6. I suppose NY laws could be this specific, but Tennessee refers to “reasonable reliance” upon one of the stated forms of ID. If you know that Moe is a common nickname for Mortimer & he has ID in both names, I don’t see the issue. If he has it in either name & swears that he uses both, again, no problem. If I were truly worried about the order of names on the Name Aff, I would use a blank one from my stock & have him sign in the name that is on his ID. I have blank ones because I copied over the text from ones used in previous assignments,so, no, I am not practicing law. If you prefer to not use blanks, you could correct the Name Aff in the package with the usual one line strike through & initials to put the names in the right order. Do the Name Aff first & everything else flows fine. You could even do 1 copy corrected & then 1 uncorrected if you are worried about the client’s reaction.

    Not intended as legal advice in any state. Not a legal opinion.

    Comment by Tim Gatewood — April 30, 2012 @ 3:07 am

  7. Tim, He stated his legal name is Mortimer and the docs are drawn for Moe. How can you not see the issue?

    Comment by edelske — May 19, 2012 @ 4:43 am

  8. Refinance? Title usually takes the borrowers name directly from the existing deed of trust. The notary who notarized the recordable document was satisfied with Mort’s ID and if it was his first REFIi, the first notary could have even been his loan officer. Judging by the size of the loan package his credit, lifestyle, income and family had been researched thoroughly by the lender and the FHA. Now it’s your turn to ID him and he can only come up with half a dozen acceptable ID’s (some expired) that show his name spelled only 2 ways. However since he was a “naturalized” citizen his name in the old country could have been Osama ben laden. Can’t be too careful and even if you could get his neighbors involved as credible witnesses, they could only swear that this name was Mort… Oh! duh (forehead slap)

    Comment by Joe Ewing — June 11, 2012 @ 4:02 pm

  9. A lot of commentators miss the point. ID is verified before proceeding with the documents. THE DOCUMENTS ARE NOT TO BE USED AS ID. As such, who cares what is on a AKA affidavit. It is not ID and can’t be used as ID. If you present me a document for John Doe and your name is Robert Doe, and your friends call you Bob Doe and one guy calls you John Doe, I can’t notarize it because in the ID stage, the state has identified that your parents named you Robert. In Louisiana, your GIVEN name must be the name used in the docs (La. R.S. 35:12). Because of that statute, I can care less what they call you, but your ID and the documents must be your given name.

    Just legal information. Not intended as legal advice in any state. Not a legal opinion.

    Comment by Charles — June 27, 2012 @ 5:40 am

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