What’s My Name? Difficult Questions First Eh!!

I have more than one name – so am I the same person?

The primary function of a Notary Public throughout the world is to identify that an event has happened and then to prepare a certificate to confirm that that event has happened. Most usually the event is a signature of a document by a Human Being

The very basic job therefore is for the Notary to identify that Person and the starting point for that identification is to establish the “Name” of the Person

That is when things start to get complicated. It is usually assumed that any given Person is going to have a “Name”

It certainly turns out that matters are not so simple. Many parents choose more than one name for their child. In the case of our Royal Family the Prince of Wales has the given names Charles Philip Arthur George. He does not use his surname – his Royal House is the House of Windsor but he is not referred to as Charles Windsor in fact his surname is Mountbatten-Windsor. In Scotland he is named Duke of Rothesay. In England he is the Prince of Wales and also the Duke of Cornwall. Whilst he is one of the most well-known people in the world it is clear that he does not have one unique and discrete “Name”.

One imagines that it would be difficult for him to book a flight on a low-cost Airline where the computer system is unlikely to be able to cope with his many different names and titles – (possibly that is not a problem for him!)

Perhaps not many people have as many alternative names and titles as Prince Charles but if we consider John Fred Smith we may find that he is referred to as John F Smith, J. F. Smith, John Smith or Fred Smith.

Still more complications arise when an inspection of that person’s Birth Certificate could perfectly conceivably show James Frederick Smith. Most people would say that the Birth Certificate and passport are the very definitions of a person’s name – but I have seen many people who do not use the names on the Birth Certificate and Passport they carry and whose friends and relatives would be amazed to read them.

Most recently I have seen a client called “Louise” all her life, who was surprised to see that her Birth Certificate and Passport show “Louisa”. She had never noticed.

So what is your name – is it what people call you or is it what your Birth certificate says? In the real world, names are not fixed, they are fluid. And may I remark, that if you tell an American bureaucrat that your name is James Fred Smith, it will be recorded there as James F Smith. It just will!

Contrast all this with the rigidity of computers – if your email address is WilliamdotSmithatGmail then an email to BillydotSmithatGmail will certainly not arrive.

The practical problem, is the mismatches that occur and the bureaucratic consequences.

This year I have had to notarise several “Clarification of Name Certificates”. Example – a doctor going to her new job in Australia, her passport shows a middle name which her university Degree and GMC certificate omit. Is she the same woman?

An annoying expense for her no doubt, but resolved in thirty minutes.

But contrast with the situation when the ambiguity as to name arises after death. Do you fancy coping with the problems of selling your late Uncle’s flat in Turkey, when the Title Deeds are in the name of say “Billy Jack Smith”, but the death certificate and probate show “William John Smith” and your Uncle being deceased cannot attend to make a rectification? The situation has just added tens of thousands of pounds of cost, if indeed the flat can ever be sold

Any lessons from all of this? Not really! There is always a disconnection between Real Life and the efforts of Administrators to categorise and reduce it to documents and records.

But if you can, make it a little easier for yourself and your heirs. Decide what your name is, and stick to it!! Use it in one single form in everything you do and don’t let other people amend it or shorten it in their records and databases.

Whatever your name is, your Notarial work needs to be thorough. – contact me at http://www.atkinsonnotary.com +44 (0)113 816 0116

Notaries are Not Immortal – Who Knew?

Michael Jackson might be at Number One in the charts, but a Notary should accept death as the End!

The purpose of a Notarial certification is that it can document facts in a way which is accepted in Courts and institutions throughout the world.

The whole point of a Notarised Certificate therefore is that it must be truthful. If Notaries could not be relied to be honest truthful persons then the whole point and purpose of the profession would be at an end.

Detroit Legal News reveals [May 2014] that the notarised signature of a Detroit Notary appeared on dozens of legal documents required for mortgage foreclosures in late December 2009 and early 2010.

Bizarrely, at that time the signing Notary was in hospital in a Coma following a car accident in December 2009 – and even after her death in 2010 her dated and notarised signature, continued to appear on court filed legal documents for more than 3 weeks – the last one dated January 30th 2010.

A Clerk in the office of the deceased Notary admitted in Depositions that the Notary routinely signed blank documents to which the Clerk later added the dates even after her death – sometimes up 200 legal notices per day and stacks of other documents needing notarisation.

Detroit USA at that time was the epicentre of the global financial crisis – there were 80,000 mortgage foreclosures in a single year.

It is now being suggested that corners were cut in the execution of many of those foreclosure cases. Mr William Anderson the Vice President of Legislation Affairs of the National Notary Association in America says that five of the Banks in the USA have agreed to pay 25 billion dollars to settle claims of improper foreclosures practices. He said “we don’t not know how much of that 25 billion is due to the faulty notaries but certainly it was a part”.

It is both disturbing and heartening to read that, at the other end of the USA in Florida this year more than 30 Notaries have been dismissed for failing properly to handle their duties – some of them having been convicted on charges that disqualified them from holding office. Disturbing to read of the need for this to happen, and heartening that something is being done.

I think that is it only in America that the Notaries are not lawyers required to pass difficult exams after years of training.

In the rest of the world US Notarial certificates have long been given scant regard.

Whilst there is never room for complacency it does remain the case that in England there has never been a successful allegation of dishonesty against a Notary.

For a more positive view of the role of the Notary, the internet reveals that in Riyadh in Saudi Arabia the Ministry of Justice has last week ordered that a women should be arrested for “identity theft” after she appeared before a Notary Public to act as a witness and the Notary discovered her fraud. Now that is what Notaries should be doing – not issuing their own posthumous certificates!

Whoever you are, your Notarial work needs to be thorough. – contact me at http://www.atkinsonnotary.com +44 (0)113 816 0116