On Identity & Identification

One of the first & most important functions of a Notary Public is to verify the identity of the person or people signing any document(s) that are going to be Notarized.

The four types of primary I.D. that I can accept as a Tennesse Notary Public are: Driver License, I.D. Issued by the same department of state government as the DL (gun permit, non-driver’s ID, etc), Passport or Military I.D.

If you don’t have one of those, I can verify your identity from personal knowledge, if I already know you myself; or by use of a credible witness who I know personally & who knows you personally & who shows up at the signing to swear or affirm that you are who you say you are.

If your primary I.D. has a different name on it than the documents, I will need to see additional I.D. that has the same name as the documents and/or have you sign & swear to or affirm a Name Variations affidavit.

If you don’t have a current (not expired) primary I.D. and I don’t already know you and we can not find a credible witness (as described above), I can not Notarize your documents.

Sometimes, despite all my best efforts to prepare the signer(s) when the appointment is made or confirmed, they fail to understand how critical the identity-verification is.

Today, I had a real estate closing where the husband presented his Firearms Permit as his primary form of I.D. As it happens, Tennessee does allow me to accept a gun permit IF it was issued by the same agency as issues the drivers licenses and has all the same info on it as a Driver License. The lender or title company might prefer a driver license, but I accepted it because the Notary Handbook for Tennessee said I could.

The interesting bit came with the wife. She had a driver license that showed first, middle and maiden name. Of course, the documents have her as first, middle initial and married name. So, one name (last) is different from the docs. This is why I have a Name Variations Affidavit in my Notary bag, as married women’s I.D.s frequently don’t match the documents. She showed other, less-reliable forms of I.D. to support her full name.

However, in her case, the middle initial was wrong on the docs. She said it was that way when they bought the property & she asked them to fix it, but they didn’t. She insisted it was not correct. Even so, rather than having gotten a Quit Claim Deed done somewhere along the way, she had just left it wrong in the records.

I explained to her that, by signing the docs that way, she had, in essence, accepted it as a variation of her name, even if it was just a typo to start with. She added it to the list of names on the Name Variations Affidavit & we went ahead with the closing.

Afterward, I called both my agency & the title company to advise them of this mess & of how we handled it.

She commented about having to file letters with the credit bureaus to put it on record that the initial was wrong. It would have been simpler, cleaner & more effective to do a Quit Claim Deed and get it recorded in the county where their property is located.

My point in telling this story is to say, don’t leave not-you variations of your name uncorrected. You just never know when they might step up to bite you.

(The preceding is not intended to be legal advice or legal opinion. I am not an attorney & am not authorized to give legal advice or opinions. I am a Notary Public. )

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About Tim Gatewood

55+, male, widowed (May 2016). Mobile notary public and signing agent, freelance writer, and ordained minister. Science fiction and fantasy fan, willing servant to cats, avid reader and collector of books and other stuff. Please see my websites (including this blog and others) for more info on me and what I think about the issues of the day.
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