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October 26, 2016

Most loan documents haven’t changed since the 80’s

Most Mortgage loan documents haven’t changed since the 80’s. Which ones would you change? With the advent of the Closing disclosure, the HUD and the Truth in Lending were eliminated. But, did that really improve the loan industry? It’s the same information in a different form. Personally, I liked it better the old way. The music was better in the 80’s as well, but that’s a different story (or song).

Then we have Deeds of Trust. Each one is a different length. They range from two pages to 54 pages. Wouldn’t it be easier if there were a standardized length for a Deed of Trust. And who is going to sit and read all 54 pages and actually understand it.

Next, the 1003 always has wrong information in it. Shouldn’t it be required by law to double check your work if you work in a Mortgage or Title house?

The Signature Affidavit is another document I don’t like. If you have a legal name, you should use that name on all of your documents. It’s too complicated if you keep changing your name around with variations. Mathematicians like to have a single name for an entity. The minute you have multiple names it becomes difficult to identify that entity especially if writing computer programming code. Personally, if your last name is a common name like Smith, Gonzalez, or Hussein, you should definitely use a middle initial. But, life is easier with email addresses. A single email address cannot be assigned to more than one person. Personally, I think that the government should make us have an official registered email address that they patrol for spam. That way, we can be reached without having to go to the mail box. Times are changing, but our government and loan brokers are not.

The Flood Disclosure is another document that I find funny. I think it would be ironic if you spilled your Pepsi on a flood disclosure of all of the documents in the stack.

Speaking of irony, hairstyles have gotten shorter since the 80’s, but loan document packages seem to have gotten longer — and with more fax backs.

I think that loans need to be simpler and that the government should step in and have some standards. But, in the mean time, we’ll do what we can. Let us know if there are any changes to loan documents that you recommend.

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August 30, 2016

Self Notarization Landmine

Self Notarization Landmine

I’m referring to the form where you are the only person signing. Ignoring the fact that the form asks you to notarize your own statement, what it says can haunt you later. Yes, I know; you feel the statements are the absolute truth. What harm can it do? It’s not a filed document, nobody will ever see it *except* when it’s not truthful. Then can land on you like a ton of lawsuits.

Typically it has a venue, a statement (more on that later), and a place for Notary Public signature, stamp and commission number / expiration date. Sure seems like a “notary” act. But, as I said; let’s just ignore the illegality and get to the possible later grief.

I, the above described Notary Public, hereby certify that I have checked the identification of those parties who have signed before me and I have attached copies of their driver’s license(s) or other picture identification. I have verified them to be the same parties as those described in the instructions acknowledged by me. Witness my hand and official seal ……………

Lawyers love ambiguous verbiage. Here the two key words are “checked” and “verified”. Really? Just how did you do that? Are you trained in spotting a forgery? I’m not referring to a mess made on a copier. The “bad ones” just Google “fake driver license from china” and order from the site that rhymes with snowflake. I looked at their site – it scared me. For about a hundred dollars one can get a VERY good fake driver license from any state. Perhaps a police officer with real time access to police information can determine the serial number is not appropriate for the issue date or the birthdate on the document. But can you? I certainly cannot.

Thus, how can I make a statement that I certify and verify the identities? I know that is what notaries do – “check ID” – but there is a limit to our ability to detect forgeries. Some states have a specific “proof” list – the only items that can be used by the notary. Here in NY, it’s a bit fuzzy, the law requires the notary view “adequate proof” – seemingly a lower standard than verified.

I have followed articles and reviews of the “snowflake” – they have the technology to fool anybody who does not have police type access to driver license databases. It would easily pass my visual inspection. There are forgery detection manuals that go over “hidden” aspects of the various state issued licenses. I’m sure “snowflake” has a copy!

So, there is a good chance that, over the years; I have notarized by accepting a forgery. To me it was “adequate proof”; to you it was on “the list”. So where are we now? Well, I feel I followed my states laws, and so did you. The real issue is making a statement often entitled “Positive Proof Identification and Notary Signature Affidavit” that goes beyond my state requirements.

Recall the Miranda warning “anything you say can a will be used against you in a court of law”. The same admonition must apply even more strongly to things that you sign and “notarize”. I just return these forms untouched, with the exception of attaching a business card.

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April 26, 2016

The Signature Name Affidavit

The Signature/Name Affidavit
It is most likely that you are not processing this simple form properly. First, the good news; of all the forms in various loan packages this one is probably one of the most uniform. There really is little variation in how this form is structured. I will get to where most “go wrong”; but first a bit about the purpose and structure of the SNA.

The package comes from many sources. There are bank docs, title docs, escrow docs and perhaps some from other sources. It’s a virtual certainty that the borrower name will have some slight variation on documents. Of course the key name is the one on the ID and that is the name that you will notarize; we all know that. But, how about the name variations present in the package? This form is used to state, under oath, that the affiant is “also” known as. It’s a one way form. It can only be used to add variations to the notarized name as proven. It cannot be used to “prove”, for notarization purposes a name that does not match the ID presented.

The first entry is the legal name, which I define as what is on the ID. Thus, if the middle name is on that line it must be on the ID. If, for example the middle name is NOT on the ID, it should be redacted from the top line (proven name only) and that name “demoted” to an “also known as” line in the second area. Yes, the 3 part name is their legal name, BUT – as it was not proven to me I cannot notarize it. If the ID has only the middle initial, that is the “first line” entry. They can “acquire” the middle name in full as an “also known as” in a subsequent entry.

All subsequent entries (AKAs) should include variations, including but not limited to maiden names. The most common variations are the inclusion and omission of middle initials. One approach to completing the form is to keep it on the table while processing other documents. Add to the AKA section each name variation as noticed. Ask the borrower to print and sign the AKA in parallel to processing the bulk of the package. The printed name on the left will have the variation; usually the “matching” signature on the right will be the same for each entry.

The SNA can be used in court, along with a handwriting expert; to determine a signature is authentic on a document. As the signatures were witnessed by a notary, they can be accepted as valid when comparing to a different document. For this reason it’s a good practice to N/A any unused AKA lines; so subsequent names / signatures cannot be added; do you do that?

At the start of this entry I said you probably are not processing this properly, now to prove that statement. After the AKAs there is usually a statement “and that (usually filled in with the preprinted AKA(s)) are one and the same person”. However, you probably added one or more names to the AKA entries, and had the borrower sign on the right. What you might be overlooking is the need to ALSO put the added AKAs to the statement at the bottom! Take a look at an AKA form; there is a reason that they left plenty of room. That section is often overlooked!

It’s a signing, not a closing for most of us. We are there to collect signatures and initials. It’s rare for ALL the docs to have precisely the same name; rarer still for that name to be exactly what is on the presented ID. Proper completion of the SNA is mandatory, and avoiding a redraw will mark you as both a hero and a skilled professional. But don’t go overboard; adding your own SNA is probably not a good idea. If you need one and it was not supplied, call for “what to do”!

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March 8, 2015

Point (10) Signature Affidavit; Marcy Cancels the Signing

Our friend Marcy had screwed up a few signings by now. But, she wouldn’t give up. She was determined. She was unfortunately determined to go out there because her friends told her to have confidence and go out there. What she really needed to do is more studying before she screwed up anyone else’s loan. Maybe after this screw up she’ll hit the books before she accumulates some more bad karma.

ROCHESTER: Hi, you must be Marcy, the Notary.

MARCY: Sure, yes, just call me Marcy. Oh, that’s what you called me. Yes, I usually go by Marcy.

ROCHESTER: So, can I offer you a glass of orange juice before the signing?

MARCY: Yes, that would be wonderful. But, we’ll put it on a separate table or chair. I don’t want to tell you what happened at Starbucks a few days ago.

ROCHESTER: Oh, I love Starbucks. How could anything go wrong there?

MARCY: Oh boy. Let’s not talk about it. Let’s just make sure nothing goes wrong here.

ROCHESTER: Nothing can go wrong. I went over all the numbers with my Lender this morning. Just relax.

MARCY: Okay, no surprises then. Here are the documents. Let’s sign away.

ROCHESTER: Okay, hmmm. Uh-oh. My name.

MARCY: Your name? Your name is Rochester Smith.

ROCHESTER: That’s the whole thing. The docs have my name as Rochester T Smith. I never sign that way.

MARCY: No problem, I have the Lender’s phone number on speed dial, and your ID has your name as… uh-oh!!! (ring-ring) hmmm, he doesn’t seem to be picking up. Typical Lender. Always there to sell you a loan, but never there when you’re at the signing and something goes wrong. I think we need a 3-way appointment next time to make sure they are available. I’ll just leave a message.

ROCHESTER: Well, I can’t sign like this. I never sign with my middle initial.

MARCY: I can’t notarize you with the middle initial anyway since it is not on your ID.

ROCHESTER: Well, we’ll have to end the signing then. I’m so sorry Marcy.

MARCY: Oh, it’s okay.

Little did Marcy know that she could use the Signature Affidavit and AKA statement to write in all of Rochester’s name variations including the one without the middle initial. They could sign the docs as one of the variations such as printed on his ID, and the loan would go through unless the Lender objected. Lender’s often plan on selling the loan, so they don’t want too many (or any) discrepencies. Since Rochester wouldn’t be able to get another ID, the Lender wouldn’t have too much choice in the matter other than to forfeit the loan after his many hours of involvement. Once again, Marcy ruined another loan because she didn’t do her homework. Sounds like some of the notaries on 123notary who didn’t want to take additional certification courses and tests because they didn’t “need” to. Oh well. Perhaps it is really the Lender’s fault for choosing an untested Notary.

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Point (10) The Signature Affidavit and AKA Statement

Signature Affidavit
There are many variations to this one. Here are some other names: Name Affidavit, Signature Affidavit and AKA Statement, Signature Name Affidavit, etc. These documents are often sworn oaths; if so, make sure to have the borrower(s) raise their right hand and swear to the correctness of the document or whatever the document asks them to swear to. This document is the one where people have to, or are allowed to, list all of their names including previous names from a long time back.

Generally, the name that the borrower is using in all of the documents appears on the top of the page; they have to sign to the right of that. Then, if they have name variations, those will be listed below. The printed name variations are usually on the left while the borrowers should sign to the right. The spelling of the names on the forms are not always correct. The names are obtained from credit reports that, at times, have the names misspelled. Keep your eyes open. Be sure that the borrower signs the variations exactly as they are spelled. Watch them like a hawk. Borrowers always screw this document up. If the names are not their real names, explain to them that the information came from credit reports. The data entry clerks who work at the credit bureau don’t always have good spelling skills. However on this particular document, the borrower has to sign exactly the way the misspelled name is anyway.

Notarizing the Signature Affidavit
This document is almost always notarized. Be careful doing your acknowledgment wording. If the person has one or more name variations, then the wording should be as follows (this is the California wording, it may not apply in other states, and I’ll skip the beginning wording):

The person(s) [cross out the ‘s’] whose name(s) [don’t cross this ‘s’ out although it is a habit] is/are [cross out the ‘is’] subscribed to the within instrument and acknowledged to me that ——— by his/her/their signature(s) [keep the ‘s’] ——-

It is difficult to remember how to fill out the wording for a single person with multiple names. Please refer to the Signature Affidavit in the sample document section to see how the wording is done.

The most important fact about the Signature Affidavit: If a borrower insists on signing in a way that is different from the name printed on the documents, the loan will often (not always, but often) still go through if that name they are using during the signing shows up in the Signature Affidavit. As always, ask the Lender before you use any name variation that is different from what is printed on the signature area of the documents. But, if the Lender doesn’t answer their phone — and they often don’t, then you are forced to use the skills you learned by learning the ropes! Just be sure not to hang yourself with one.

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The Signature Name Affidavit: Not a substitute for an ID
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January 20, 2015

The Signature Name Affidavit

The Signature Name Affidavit
An extension of the simple signature affidavit (this is my signature), is the signature / name / AKA affidavit. Here it becomes a little bit more complex for both the notary, and the affiant. Understanding what are probably the two most frequent uses for the form helps to jog my memory as to their importance, and how they should be processed.

Both the single name format and the multiple name formats generally use Jurat wording. As, when you think about it; an acknowledgement kinda violates the basic purpose. It would be useless. That routine notary statement “Subscribed and sworn (affirmed) before me…..” is the key. This document contains, under oath, a notary witnessed (after checking ID) signature sample. Experts can compare the “known to be authentic” sample against the signatures on the questionable documents. Both formats, if ever used, will probably see a courtroom. Always use your embosser on these.

The multiple name section has the affiant making an additional statement “I am also known as”. Generally this provides a means of processing slight variations in signatures. For example, they may miss a middle initial on one of their signatures. But only if it’s completed correctly. I am looking at a sig name aff that has first middle and last at the top. In the “also known” there is one entry preprinted, that one uses the first and last name. But, what if they sign first, init, last? That very likely situation is not covered by preprinting. However, there are a few blank lines for the astute notary to use. Printing (generally on the left), first, init, last; and having them sign on the right using those name components. Now if they sign first init last; on **ANY** document, that document (per their own sworn statement) has their legal signature. This catch might make the closing go smoothly. And, let us not forget; eliminate the need for a free correction trip!

Now for the hard part. The above paragraph was just a warm-up; prepare for some grief. There are AKA entries that raise the eyebrows of the affiant. Very few of them will object to adding or subtracting variations possible of the middle name; they will sign off on that. However, when there are one or more entries that are vastly different from the legal name there is a problem. The root of the problem will never become known to you. They want “confirmation” of the extreme variation to deal with a situation that might have started as a clerical error. This blog entry makes no attempt to deal with the issue of fraud issues related to AKA entries.

I have had affiants, often in their attorney’s office; hand add the term “have never been known as” to a line item, adding proper initialing. They then proceed to sign the rejected name. It’s their sworn statement, and their lawyer wisely wants their statement completely truthful. It is possible that the processor of the signature name affidavit just glances to see that “the boxes are full”. I don’t know the odds, but the few modified ones I notarized did not bounce back. How could they? The affiant modified the form to reflect the truth, sworn under oath.

You can’t suggest the “never been known”, unless you are an attorney. So, lacking a parachute; the affiant will sometimes refuse to sign. If possible call “upstream”, and let them work it out. When nobody was reachable, I accepted them signing only at the top. It’s a fine line between making something available to sign; and exerting influence to sway their sign, no sign decision.

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July 5, 2013

Notarizing a Name Affidavit

Most loan document packages include a name affidavit which could also be called a Signature Affidavit and AKA Statement. There are many variations for what this document is called.

Or, should I say that there are many NAME variations for what this document is called?

In any case, this document is notarized the same way that any other notarized document is notarized, EXCEPT, that the signer is signing more than once.

In the notary verbiage, there will be the word name(s) and signature(s) — typically, for a notarization of a single individual, the (s) will be crossed on in both cases. But, on the Signature Affidavit and AKA Statement, the (s)’s should NOT be crossed out as a single person will have multiple name variations, and multiple signatures — one signature per name.

If the signer is a jazz musician, then the Signature Affidavit and AKA Statement might get really long with all of the name variations.

Here is a sample of some of the interior notary verbiage in a California Notary Acknowledgment Certificate Form..

….. On _________ before me, ________________________________________,
(name of notary public )
personally appeared _____________________________________________
who proved to me on the basis of satisfactory evidence to be the person(s) whose name(s) is/are subscribed to the within instrument and who acknowledged to me that he/she/they executed the same in their authorized capacity(ies), and by his/her/their signature(s) on the instrument the person(s), or entity upon behalf of which the person(s) acted, executed the instrument….

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January 1, 2013

Signature Name Affidavit: Not a substitute for an ID

I hate to beat a dead horse. But it seems that quite a few of you still believe that the ‘Name affidavit’ is a way to identify individuals that don’t have the proper ID. I’ll say it again for the thousandth time. You cannot use this form in place of current GOVERNMENT ID. The whole point of your job is to have the person appear before you and identify the signer through proper (current) government issued identification. There are usually no exceptions to this rule (except for one; when you feel that they will not be able to get ID. They then will need to be identified through credible witnesses (usually two) who will swear under oath to you, to the signers identity and they will have current government issued ID themselves. However, keep in mind that we do not usually use this method with loans. For some lenders this may be acceptable way to identify their borrowers but for many of us notaries in certain states it is prohibited. But under no circumstance no matter what state you hold your commission in are you to use the name/signature affidavit to ID anyone. NEVER!

So you may ask what is the form for? The name affidavit form is included in the loan document package to identify all the names of the borrower that have been reported to the credit bureaus and that appear on the individuals credit report. It is not for your use and dont let ANYONE tell you that it is used for any other purpose. It is to make the borrower aware that these are the names that the report has listed for them. These may include but not limited to married, and /or maiden names and/or their name has been misspelled.

So in closing, remember when you confirm a job make sure that all signers have proper ID and that the ID is government issued and is current. If you make sure of this when you call and confirm the assignment this will save you and your borrower allot of headaches.

Until next time! Be safe!

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