Redaction – the legal Eraser
When something needs to be changed, typically the spelling of a name; there are many wrong ways. There is only one right way.
If you wish to destroy, as in making it generally unacceptable for most filing and legal purposes, the surest way is to plaster on the White Out. Equally bad is to simply erase the error (not so easy with LaserJet printouts) but it still can be done with a white ink eraser. There is also the time honored method of obliteration via multiple cross outs. Neater, but equally inappropriate to simply overwrite one letter with a different one. The classic example is adding a second loop to the bottom of a capital P to make it a capital B. Less neat, but still wrong is to simply write a new letter on top of the old one. There are probably other wrong ways, I have not seen them all.
Simply draw a THIN line (a Pilot Precise V5 RT pen does this well) thru the middle of the WORD (not a single letter) or phrase that is in error. Thus, “Kenneth A Ebelstein” becomes “Kenneth A Ebelstein”. Note that the thin line allows the underlying text to remain fully readable. Few can draw a thin straight line, use a credit card as a line guide. Initials (more on whose are used later) go at either end of the strikethru line or in the margin at either side of the text. Lastly write the correct value “Kenneth A Edelstein” as nearby as possible. It WILL look bad, you will think a discreet “overwrite” looks better. Perhaps, but that overwrite is never acceptable.
The Two Parts of a Notarized Document
Documents to be Notarized consist of only two parts. There is the document itself, almost always first. The document is followed by the Notary section. One tiny exception is the possibility of the Venue (State of xxx, County of xxx) residing at the top of the document. Even though it is “first” the Venue is always considered as part of the Notary section.
Who makes Changes Where
This is simple. Only the notary can make changes to the Notary Section (including a top most Venue). Affiants make changes as needed outside of the Notary Section. I have been told to “correct the name spelling everywhere it appears” and refuse to do so. I do not make any writing of any type outside of “my” area. Nor, do I permit others to make changes in “my” area. Any change to the body of the document should be made by someone who will be signing THAT document, and by nobody else. Thus, you MUST teach them proper redaction procedures.
Who Initials in the Notary Section
I’m sure you guessed this one. ONLY the notary. Correcting a misspelled name in the Notary Section is NOT initialed by anyone else. I have had “low IQ” persons tell me that the named person should initial a name correction in the Notary Section; sometimes they want me to ALSO initial the fix, I do not allow anyone other than me to write anything, including initials in my area.
Who Initials in the Body of the document
ONLY persons whose signature appears at the end of the document, never the Notary. Take care to check who will be signing. Often one spouse is on some documents, but not all; and that is the one needing name correction. If they are NOT signing – even though their name is in the body of the document they do NOT initial the correction.
This can lead to strange looking corrections with a split signing. The prior affiants will not be initialing changes made during the “second session” – that’s one for the attorneys to argue.
Some Parting Thoughts
Get the initials right. When I change a Venue it’s KAE as my middle initial is on my stamp. The same applies to affiants. If the signature line of the document has Jr. Sr. III or similar, those attributes follow the regular initials EG: KAE Jr. or KAE II. As the name attributes are part of the legal name, they follow into the legal initials.