Notarizing Document with Name Discrepancy
To prevent fraud, the notary should check that the name on the document matches the name on the signer identification. There may be a name discrepancy due to the use of a nickname, maiden name, marriage or divorce, legal name change, or a suffix, such as Jr., Sr., or the Third, III.
Use Reasonable Care With Name Discrepancy
The notary should use reasonable care when there is a name discrepancy to make sure the person signing is the same person named in the document.
In the notary certificate attached to the document, the safest policy is for the notary to write the full name shown on the signer’s identification. If the receiving party requires an exact match to avoid rejection, it may be shortened to match the name on the document.
For example, Robert James Smith, shown on the ID, may be shortened to Robert J. Smith, if that is the name shown on the document.
Signer Should Seek Guidance With Name Discrepancy
If there is a name discrepancy between the document and the name on the signer’s ID, the signer should contact the receiving party to get further instructions. The notary cannot provide legal advice.
Nickname, Also Known As, AKA
A common name discrepancy situation occurs when a nickname is shown on the document such as Bob Smith, while the ID shows the legal name of Robert Smith. The signer might sign as Robert Smith, also known as (AKA) Bob Smith. Or, the document preparer might decide to revise the document to remove the nickname and use the signer’s legal name.
Maiden Name, Formerly Known As, FKA
If a document lists a maiden name, the signer might sign as Mary B. Smith, or Mary B. Johnson-Smith (married name), formerly known as (FKA) Mary B. Johnson (maiden name).
Satisfactory Form of Identification for Name Discrepancy
The signer should show a form of satisfactory identification, as evidence for the notary to verify that the two names belong to the same person, such as an ID showing the date of birth, or marriage or divorce documents, or legal name change documents.
Professionally Known As, PKA
Some celebrities, entertainers, musicians, movie stars and professional athletes might use a professional name when performing, but their identification shows a different legal name. The signer might sign as Norma Jean Baker, professionally known as (PKA) Marilyn Monroe.
Sufficient Minimum Evidence of Name
The identification shown by the signer may contain more evidence than needed to verify the name, but it cannot contain less than needed. If the name on the document is John Quincy Adams, but the name on the ID is only John Q. Adams, that is not sufficient evidence, since the middle initial Q. does not confirm the middle name Quincy. It might stand for another name, such as Quentin.
If the name on the document is John Adams and the name on the ID is John Quincy Adams, that is acceptable, since the ID evidence confirms the first and last name shown on the document. The document is not asking to confirm the middle name.
If the primary ID provided by the signer is not sufficient to verify the name, the notary may ask to see an additional form of satisfactory identification.
Credible Witness to Verify Identification
Some states also allow for a credible witness to verify the identity of a signer, but usually, the notary must know the credible witness. A stranger is not a known credible witness since their reputation for being honest, trustworthy or credible is unknown.
Name Affidavit, AKA Statement
See our article on using a Name Affidavit as a sworn statement to list alternate or Also Known As (AKA) names of a signer.