By: Danielle Varno


Billie Jean may have been the girl that thought Michael Jackson was the one, but perhaps we never even knew if Billie Jean really was the one (she said she was)…stay with me.

When you apply for a mortgage, the lender will typically ask you for your full legal name. Some of us rule followers will provide our first, middle, and last. Some slight risk takers may provide their first name, middle initial, and last name which will typically suffice for a lender’s purpose. Some even riskier folks may simply give their first name and last name. While I have never personally seen a loan NOT close because a full legal name was not given, we often run into problems (at the closing table) with those that, while maybe not really realizing it, give an incorrect name or an incomplete name.

No, no – I am not referring to anyone trying to commit fraud by giving someone else’s name on purpose or perhaps those that try and use someone else’s social (no need to have a heart attack – that is not what this blog post is about), I am referring to those of you who may be firsts (I), seconds (II), thirds (III), juniors, or seniors – those of you with seemingly the “same” name as your family members. Even those of you that may “go by” a shortened version of your name! You might continue through the entire loan application and underwriting process unscathed – they might run your (correct) social, run your credit, pull your tax returns, etc., without any real mention of a discrepancy. You may receive some disclosures to sign, you likely will receive your final numbers so that you can wire your cash to close, and you likely will show up to the closing table without a mention of any issues.

But then there’s us – the closing attorneys, the notaries really, that require a copy of your ID and are then tasked with the burden of making sure the name we/they are notarizing matches the ID presented to us at the time of signatures . And thus, we find out – the kid really IS your son… not exactly, but we find out you are in fact a senior (or a junior) and your legal name as it appears on your ID does not match the name on all of your loan documents (Michael Jackson, Jr. or Michael Jackson, Sr.). While there are some “fixes” to these types of issues once it is at the closing table and some lenders may allow an AKA (also known as) in the notary block or perhaps they will update the name and produce a new package, for some lenders whose mortgages are backed by investors, it may not be that simple – they may not be able to change a name (signature line) on a loan/loan package without completely reunderwriting the loan.

You will close, I can (almost) promise you that – but providing a full legal name upfront (as it appears on your ID), especially when you may share a name with family members, can prevent any type of notarial issues at closing. And while your closing attorney may have more problem-solving abilities when it comes to this issue and ultimately getting your loan closed, if you find yourself in a “mail-away” closing situation or are otherwise signing with a mobile notary outside of your closing attorney’s office, you may find yourself out-of-luck and left with a signature (and loan package) that cannot be notarized.

While we cannot help the name that our parents chose to give us (they may have thought for forty days and forty nights to come up with the best name!), we can help ourselves walk away from the closing table (and ultimately a homeowner) unscathed all the while Resting Easy knowing we are the one that we say we are (on our IDs).