Q. The name on the ID says John Smith, but the typed name in the document says John W Smith… Can you notarize the signature under these circumstances?
A. You can have him sign John Smith and notarize him as John Smith. The might not wash with the Lender but looks legal. Or, have him sign John W Smith, but put only John Smith in the Acknowledgment. That way you are ONLY certifying the name he proved to you was really his.
Other things you could do…
Ask for other ID. If they don’t have it, if your state allows credible witnesses, use them to identify the signer. You can always notarize the signer based on his name on the ID regardless of the typed name on the document. The Lender might not like that, but your main job is to please the law.
For the most part, signers will have identifications that are thorough enough to use for purposes of notarization. However, it is possible that an ID will have a name that is either shorter, or that doesn’t match the name on the document. Notaries scramble the requirements for positive identification. There is the “you can have more than but not less than” rule. More than what? Less than what? This is a bad rule to learn because it gets scrambled more than not. Here are some basic principles:
1. You can always over sign (Lender principle)
This is a Lender or Title requirement, not a law. The law does not say anything about over signing in anything I have ever read. If the document says John Smith and the signer signs John W Smith, that might be okay with the Lender, but it might not be acceptable to notarize. Your job as a Notary is NOT to please Lenders, but to notarize people who you have positively identified. If the ID says John Smith then you can notarize the signer as John Smith prudently, but nothing longer than that.
2. The name on the document must be provable based on government issued photo identification.
I will not go over the particulars of an acceptable ID, and some of the particulars are state specific. As a general rule, a state issued photo ID card, driver license, passport or military ID are fine for a Notary to accept. If the ID says John William Smith and the document says John Smith, then you are fine, but if the ID name is shorter then you cannot prudently use it to identify the signer. If the ID says John Smith, but the signature on the document says John W Smith, you cannot prudently notarize that name even if the Lender says it’s okay. The Lender is not your boss, the laws of your state’s state notary division are, so obey the right entity, and stay out of jail.
3. You cannot use an AKA statement
A Signature Affidavit with AKA statement is not an acceptable primary or secondary ID. As a Notary you cannot use it to identify a signer ever. It is for the lender only.
If I ask you if it is prudent to notarize a signature that says John W Smith when the ID says John Smith, if you make me repeat myself, scramble the scenario, or quote some dumb rule that doesn’t apply in this situation such as point one in this article, you will not only get the question wrong, but get marked up for having poor communication skills. This is a yes or no question, please answer it accordingly.
You might also like:
Notary Public 101 — Identification
The 30 Point Course – a free loan signing course on our blog