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Notarize JUST the Name

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Notarize JUST the Name

We are all familiar with the two most common notary actions. The Jurat: “Sworn to and Subscribed…….”, and the Acknowledgement: “This instrument was Acknowledged before me…..”. I’m not going to cover the not so subtle differences between the two of them. What will be discussed is the expansion of the notary statement to include virtually anything.

I just shipped off an Edoc. I had to redact (no changes were made, no replacement text, just a thin line thru with my initials at the end of the line) some superfluous verbiage. Before I get into the details let me credit the source of “my” opinions. The office of the New York County Clerk has told me, quite strongly: “You notarize just the name as proven on the ID, nothing more”. What they are referring to are what I call “name attributes” and there are many. Not to be confused with name components (Jr. Sr. III, etc) which were on the birth certificate. Name attributes, and there are many include: MD, PhD, DDS, etc.

Those name attributes are rarely a problem and they are usually not added to the name in the notary section. What is a problem are what I will call “name descriptors”, and they are becoming a growing problem. A Jurat in the edoc included “a resident of ”. How would I know where the person signing resides? It’s not for me to say (I know, that’s a song title too). This was in the (usually) simple Sample Signature document. Why? I can’t figure out any rationale for inclusion of residency information on that document.

The same package included, after the name, the phrase “a capable person”. Capable of what? Such a phrase could keep lawyers in discussion forever. This particular bit of foolishness was on the AKA statement. Of course no discussion of name descriptors would be complete with mention of the classic and most common one: the marital status. Before me appeared Suzy Snowflake, a single woman. Says who? Suzy of course. So why is it in MY statement? If Ms Snowflake wishes to make a statement that she is not married, I would be happy to notarize it. But, I certainly will not include her marital status in my statement.

Even if I were to be absolutely sure of her marital status it is improper for me to include it in my statement. But, one cannot prove their marital status – it’s impossible; think about it. The problem stems from some shoddy computer programming taking the “vesting name” from the mortgage (where marital status makes sense) and propagating it into other areas.

I have discussed the issue of name descriptors many times with foggy headed drones who feel that because it is preprinted I must live with it. Not so. The notary section IS the statement of the Notary Public and IS subject to change and or deletion. My licensing officials don’t allow it, and I am certainly not able to state someone is capable, married or where they reside. Sometimes it’s a tough judgment call. If the descriptor is “of legal age” I would have to know exactly where that phrase is applied. If they are under 21, it “might” matter in some states; and could also be document specific.

We want to process the document with little conflict, as raising “issues” often sours the client. To me it’s better to lose a client than receive a summons; and become a party to litigation. As a public official my words have, “authority”; and with that comes responsibility for accuracy.