What’s in a Name?

Name changes in closing documents


The first item to complete on our information sheets is the name of the buyer and/or seller. That seems like an easy thing to do, but here are the things to beware of:

Make sure you have the full legal name. He or she may go by PJ, but I will guarantee you that Mama did not name him (or her) that! Also, he (or she) may go by J. Chandler Higgins, but that J stands for something! Particularly in a loan closing, it is important to make sure that the name the buyer gives the lender is the same one he is providing to us. Some lenders (the really picky ones) will make you go back and amend the contract to show the name that matches theirs (and for sellers, the name shown on the deed where the sellers got the property).

People’s names change, particularly women. Someone may buy a property as Jane Smith, but then marry (or divorce) and become Jane Jones. It’s not necessary to redo a deed when someone changes their name. On the deed out, we would show her as “Jane Jones fka Jane Smith”. The important thing is that we do not find out the day before closing! So, when you are working with your clients, make sure you are getting the current legal name!

Some properties are owned by companies (corporations or LLCs) rather than by individuals. Especially if it is a single member LLC or wholly owned corporation, your sellers may not understand that they as individuals are not the same as the company (two separate entities). For a seller, if a property is owned by an LLC or corporation, the company will have to show proof of who can sign for the company. Even though your seller (or buyer) may be the only member or shareholder, proof of authority to sign will still be needed. Check with the closing attorney to see what will be required.

Dead people do not own properties. If a property belonged to someone who has died, it generally belongs to that person’s heirs at the moment of death. Occasionally, you will find a will that leaves the property to the executor to sell and distribute proceeds. In that case, the Executor is listed as the owner ie. Jane Smith, Executor of the Estate of James Jones. Sometimes, a will creates a trust upon death or leaves the property to an already existing trust. In that case, the property belongs to the trust. The owners then, will be the heirs (all of them!), executor or trust (depending on the situation). It will never be the dead person.

Different cultures have different naming methods. See a future blog regarding this but be cognizant of the possibility that people may have two last names, wives may have kept their name, and that the spelling of a husband’s and wife’s last name may differ.

Next blog will cover the importance of marital status. See you then!

Revolution Law Group is located in Greensboro, NC, and serves individuals and small businesses throughout the Triad and surrounding areas. To contact us please visit Revolution.law or call 336-333-7907.

The information included here is for informational purposes only, is not exhaustive of all considerations when creating documents, is not intended to be legal advice, and should not be relied upon for that purpose. We strongly recommend you consult with an attorney and do not attempt to create your own documents.