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May 17, 2013

Why do I have to sign with my middle initial?

Filed under: SEO,Signing Tips — admin @ 11:03 pm

Do you get asked this question?

If your name on Title has your middle initial, is that the reason? I think so. But, what if your drivers license doesn’t have your middle initial? Then, you can not prudently be notarized with your middle initial. When signing loan documents, if you don’t sign exactly how your name is typed in the signature section, then you probably won’t get your loan. So, inconsistent middle initials can create an issue.

But, as notaries, you need to watch your signers carefully. Remember, you are there to babysit the signers. Unfortunately, most notaries are so unprofessional that they need to be babysat as well. But, you should know what you are doing.

At a signing, you should tell the borrowers exactly how they are to sign and have them practice on a piece of paper that is not part of their loan. Watch them. Make sure they don’t leave out any initials and make sure they sign using the applicable name variation.

Good luck

You might also like:

Initialing tutorial: Industry standards in the notary business

The man who wouldn’t use his middle initial

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What if the signature or notarization is in the middle of the document?

Notary Public 101 from 123notary



  1. If the name on title has the middle inital, but the ID does not; use an AKA form. The notary notarizes the name as on the ID and the affiant swears to the middle initial. They can sign any way they want, most common is an illegibal scrawl. However, in the notary section the name is taken from the presented ID. Thus Alfred E Newman is on title and signs as printed under the line (if not present use the longer form of the name). In the notary section it is taken from the ID and corrected if necessary to match the ID.

    Comment by Kenneth A Edelstein — May 18, 2013 @ 6:47 pm

  2. The notary is in a much better position to become reasonably certain that the person before the notary is the person named in the instrument, compared to someone 1000 miles away who must rely on the signature without meeting the signer. The notary should either assure himself to a reasonable degree of certainty the person before him is Alfred E Newman or not notarize. Kenneth A Edelstein cannot cite any law or regulation stating the name in the notarial certificate must be identical to the name on the ID.

    Furthermore, the notary does not have to rely on ID. All states allow credible witnesses in one form or another. Every state except California allow the notary to rely on his personal knowledge of the signer through long acquaintance in a variety of settings.

    If you can believe the websites of some Pennsylvania websites, they will reject documents if the name typed under the signature does not agree with the name in the notarial certificate.

    Comment by Dennis — May 19, 2013 @ 1:10 pm

  3. Dennis, last time you asked me to prove that the name includes the suffix, and I did. Now it’s your turn to do the research. Please substantiate with law and regulation that it is not necessary to use the name from the ID in the notary section where the affiant is named. Sure, credible witness is a procedure; probably used in less than one percent of notarizations and is generally quite limited requiring personal knowledge.

    Comment by Kenneth A Edelstein — May 19, 2013 @ 6:21 pm

  4. Since Mr. Edelstein did not restrict his claim to any one state, he is claiming it applies in every state. The only relevant law in Vermont states:

    “24 V.S.A. § 445. Powers

    § 445. Powers

    Every notary public is empowered to take acknowledgements, administer oaths and affirmations, certify that a copy of a document is a true copy of another document, and perform any other act permitted by law. (Added 1983, No. 194 (Adj. Sess.), § 3.)”

    Not a single word about how the notary establishes ID. It doesn’t say which kinds of cards are acceptable ID, nor anything about how to use them.

    As for court cases, it is very unlikely that a case where the notary notarized an imposter will happen, and make its way to court. If it did happen, it isn’t likely the driver’s license the notary looked at will be presented in evidence and described in the opinion. And finding such a case, if it is exists, is next to impossible.

    You’re the one claiming one must not notarize a middle initial unless it is on the driver’s license. Where did this idea come from? As with notarizations, if it isn’t written down and preserved, it didn’t happen. If you can’t provide a reliable written source for this claim, the world is entitled to assume you made it up yourself.

    Comment by Dennis — May 20, 2013 @ 12:51 pm

  5. Quit sweating whether the name on the docs is the exact same name as on the I.D. a missing middle initial, etc. is not the issue. Unless you want to do it all over again, the signature must match the name on the docs. The problem comes when people say: “I never use my middle initial”…or “I never use Katherin, I always sign Kate…” That’s when you have to say. “The documents are prepared based on the way you took title when you bought the property. To sign any other way would require deeding the property to another person and then having them deed back to you the way you like to normally sign. But for now, to close this new loan, you need to sign just the way these documents have been prepared.” That always calms them down and if they persist, suggest they contact the realtor who sold them the house and ask why s/he prepared the original contract that way.

    Comment by Rodrigo — May 26, 2013 @ 12:40 am

  6. I was told by a title company, that one could over sign a document but could not undersign. Example: Alfred Newman is the name on the deed. He signs it Alfred E Newman. Is this ok. I know that if the name on the deed is Alfred E Newman he can not undersign and leave off the E in his middle name.

    Comment by Robbie Gammack — May 14, 2014 @ 2:14 pm

  7. What about common signatures that are absolutely illegible (yet consistent with signer’s signature on government-issued IDs). I was of the understanding and belief (at least here in Indiana) that a person’s legally recorded and recognized signature, whether or not any of the individual “characters” of the signature are legible, is the signer’s legal signature without regard to middle name, middle initial, etc. If a persons drivers license, passport, government ID signature is unreadable, are we notaries expected to demand that the signer create a new “signature”???

    Comment by SMJohnson — May 24, 2022 @ 9:33 pm

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