In the title insurance world, Jane L. Doe, Jane Lee Doe, and Jane Doe are three different people – and these slight name variations are one of the most common clerical challenges leading up to settlement day.
When filling out important documents such as the Agreement of Sale, loan application, or title order, it’s not uncommon for buyers/borrowers to use different name variations; for example, a buyer may use “Johnathan Marcus Smith III” on one form and “John M. Smith” on another. This seemingly benign inconsistency can ultimately cause big headaches on settlement day, however, as the Recorder of Deeds may reject documents that don’t have the exact same names.
And as title insurance agents, we’re also required to match each individual to their government-issued photo identification on the day of the closing; as a result, an individual’s name, as it’s listed on the various forms, must exactly match their photo ID.
Additionally, if an individual’s name, as listed on the deed, does not match their photo ID, complications can arise when trying to sell. In the case of a name change during their tenure of ownership (due to marriage, divorce, or for religious reasons, etc) a seller may be asked to provide documentation to support the name change.
In short, when purchasing property, be sure that you (or your client) use the exact same name throughout the entire process – from the sales contract to the mortgage and title applications. Be especially careful of nicknames, middle initials, suffixes (e.g. Sr., Jr., III) and hyphenated surnames. This name should also exactly match all government-issued IDs.