Document Misspellings – Notary Pet Peeves

Document Misspellings

© 2010 Kim Giancaterino. All Rights Reserved.

Document Misspellings

Two of my signings this week have involved documents with multiple misspellings and outdated or improper notarial language. In both cases the documents were prepared by attorneys. I know my clients paid a lot for their services.

Nothing makes a client testier than document misspellings. Who wants to correct and initial their incorrectly spelled name on an inch-thick loan package? Most people insist on corrections before signing.

Document Misspellings Waste Time and Money

In one of the cases I ran across this week, my client confided he had paid an attorney more than $20,000 to handle a situation for him five years ago. Our signing appointment involved a deed that had not been recorded properly by the attorney’s office. The mistake was caught years later only because my client was refinancing his home.

Not wanting to waste time on an unbillable task, the attorney’s office merely provided my client with a clean copy of the document taken from five-year old files. One of the signer’s names had since changed, and the notarial language in California had changed two years earlier in 2008.

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Document Misspellings are Annoying

‚ÄčIn another case, my elderly client needed to execute a power of attorney document. Not only was her name misspelled, but so was one of her children’s names. The notarial language was wrong as well, even though someone took the time to cut and paste two acknowledgments into the document.

Contrast this with a trust document signing I did last week for an attorney in Pasadena. He not only spelled my name correctly, but included it in the notarial language of the document just minutes after I handed him my business card. All I had to do was sign and stamp. I was astounded!

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The Client’s Name Should be Spelled Correctly

When creating legal documents in the computer age, most tasks involve pulling up a template and filling in a few blanks. At the very least, a client paying for legal services has a right to expect his or her name to be spelled properly in a legal document.

No one likes to make hand written revisions and initial them, but the underlying issue is much more troubling. If someone can’t make a serious effort to spell the principal’s name correctly or even consistently throughout a document, what else might be wrong with it?

When a notary encounters a name misspelling on a legal document, confidence wanes. If the document includes a cut and paste notarial certificate, it becomes necessary to proofread every last word.

Many notaries choose to play it safe and attach a California all-purpose acknowledgment or jurat form. It’s not worth taking a chance on a missing word or comma in a sloppily prepared notarial certificate. After all, the notary is the one who looks bad when something slips through the cracks and is rejected by a recorder.

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Shop for Legal Forms and More

General Affidavit, Power of Attorney, Last Will and Testament, Living Will, Real Estate Deed, Promissory Note, Premarital Agreement, Residential Rental Agreement, and more. California state laws prohibit notaries from choosing or completing legal documents for their clients.


Red fountain pen photograph by mick_fairless

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