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What Would You Do: The Case Of The Anonymous Egg Donor

Notarizing an egg donor contract containing only the donor’s first name for anonymity purposes

The NNA Hotline receives hundreds of calls daily from Notaries nationwide who find themselves in challenging situations. To boost your knowledge of Notary best practices, we’ve created a series of scenarios based on actual situations and ask a simple question: What would you do? 

As a long-time Notary, you’ve performed a wide variety of notarizations over the years. But today’s request has you a little stumped. The signer, a healthy-looking young woman in her mid-20s, has a contract that’s several pages long.

“I’ve agreed to be an egg donor,” she says, summarizing the contents of the document. “This is the agreement we had our lawyers draw up to be notarized. The couple that will be receiving the egg has already signed and had their signatures notarized, but I need to have my signature notarized, as well.”

You scan the document and notice that only her first name is listed as the “Egg Donor.” Likewise, only the first names of the recipients are used throughout the contract.

“We want this to remain anonymous,” she explains, “so we are only using first names.” She presents a valid ID, and the first names match. But the question is…

What Would You Do?
 

Given the sensitivity of the situation and the desire for the parties to remain anonymous, would you perform a notarization on an egg donor contract containing only the donor’s first name?

To participate in this week’s “What Would You Do?” scenario, share your answers in the comments section below. We may mention your response in next week’s Bulletin, when we offer the best possible answer(s) to this notarial challenge.

Kelle Clarke is a Contributing Editor with the National Notary Association.

88 Comments

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Gerry

06 Aug 2015

People are entitled to conduct their business under an alias unless deceit is involved. If the alias can be proven to the notary's satisfaction the notarization can be done. But if the notary keeps a journal that is a public record, the anonymity may be an illusion.

Charyl Murray

10 Aug 2015

I believe it is pretty common practice to allow the notarization with only a first name. I would also probably log full name into my notary journal and have them sign an oath to stating they are the person recognized in the contract. Interesting question, I will have to check with NNA to see what is really allowed in the State of Florida! Good question NNA!

Augustine

10 Aug 2015

NO, under the federal privacy act it is important to keep their privacy, but under the freedom of information act and legalities that may arise the full name of the signer would be necessary.

Katherine Bischof

10 Aug 2015

She would have to sign her full name in my notary book and I would document the details in the notary book as well. I would certainly check to make sure I was taking the correct steps by contacting the hotline.

Randolph Watkins

10 Aug 2015

I would not perform the notarization simply because only having a first name would make the notarial certificate incomplete. Even though proper identification documents might match the first name on the agreement that doesn't mean the customer is the real donor. There are too many women with the same name in the world. We would not notarize for "Jane Doe" unless she presented appropriate identification.K5

Rosemary Mathews

10 Aug 2015

I would explain that I cannot verify the identity of a person whose name and/or description is not listed. I would suggest the signor consult a lawyer for guidance on such a document.

Lillian

10 Aug 2015

My job as notary is to make sure she is who she says she is and witness her signature. I would notarize her document based on that basic concept. I would make notes in my book as to the situation and as long as I was sure she was Jane Doe I would proceed.

Cornelia

10 Aug 2015

I would request their name be listed as it appears on their driver's license and advise them that their documents should remain private.

Stanley Kalish

10 Aug 2015

No problem. Take 2 pieces of ID, one with a photo. In your journal, note the full name of the signer and all necessary info and notarize only the first name signing. Everyone is happy.

mildred levi mcevoy

10 Aug 2015

I would let her sign the document with only her first name; however, I would require that the signer, in my Notary Journal, list: 1. DOB, SS#, and give her THUMB PRINT, DL#, and sign her full signature.

Carol

10 Aug 2015

No I would not do it but suggest she go to a clerk at a court of her birth to have it notarized.

Julie Krabbe

10 Aug 2015

I wouldn't notarize without the full name as it is impossible to know who the document belongs to with just the first name ! You can't just write her first name in the acknowledgement! They can keep an original and make a copy for the other party and black out the last name!

Jerry

10 Aug 2015

Ask for id from all signers to verify both first names and siggies.

Frankie White

10 Aug 2015

No, there are too many what ifs. Other persons with the same first name could be represented, etc, etc. No, too chancy.

Liz

10 Aug 2015

I would notarize. As a notary I need to verify she is signing as herself and I need to verify with her identification that she is show she says she is. Also determine whether or not she is signing under her own will.

Virginia M. Greene

10 Aug 2015

I would not perform the notarization. Both first and last names are needed on the document to properly identify the signer. At a later date, legal questions may arise and you would only have first names to identify the signers.

J A Jason

10 Aug 2015

I would Notarize the document using her first name .

Chris Morgan

10 Aug 2015

I feel the document cannot be notarized. A first name only will NOT allow the notary to have properly id'd the signer. The agreement can be confidential BUT should have the full name of the signer in order to be legally notarized.

cassie

10 Aug 2015

I would not notarize anything with just a first name. I would think it would be just like HIPPA for medical records that you would be bound not to discuss it.

Rick Butler

10 Aug 2015

There is no way to know which "Mary" the document refers to. So while you can identify the person signing, there is no way to know who the document refers to. I would not notarized this document.

Patsy

10 Aug 2015

No, since everything I do as a notary is confidential, I would require that she write her last name as well as show me identification, otherwise I would not notarize the document.

Gary DaSilva

10 Aug 2015

The purpose of notarization is to vouch for the identity of the signer. I predict that someday the common form of ID will be a dna sample. If you need privacy a notarization is not the way to get it. But a third party can agree to hold the document in escrow, keep it confidential, and destroy or redact it when its purpose has been accomplished.

Mister J

10 Aug 2015

This is a little confusing. Would both parties be getting a hardcopy of the fully executed document with the notarial certificates attached? If so, how could it possibly *be* anonymous anymore, since the notarial certificates would list the full names of the parties involved?

Deborah A. Massey

10 Aug 2015

Unless this several page contract is completed and approved with all parties present inside the representing attorney's office, then brought out to the notary by the attorney and explained, I would NOT sign or place a notary seal upon this contract. The notary would be putting themselves at risk as although the person has identification with their full name, the document that the notary is signing and affixing their seal to, does NOT. Example: the "anonymous" person with the FIRST name "Mary" could be ANY Mary without verification of the LAST name included on the document.

John Axt

10 Aug 2015

Would not do it.

Joann B

10 Aug 2015

I would refer the signer back to lawyer's office for notary.

SKern

10 Aug 2015

I would not do the notarization. There would be no way to prove that the single name on the document actually refers to the person signing the notarization.

Tammy Spring

10 Aug 2015

I would not feel comfortable doing a Notary where the full name is not disclosed. The way I view this is that it is a medical document and would be privacy protected under health care. I would not do this Notary.

Harasiddhiprasad G. Bhatt

10 Aug 2015

I would not perform notarization for this.

Lisa Curry

10 Aug 2015

Understanding the sensitive nature of the situation, I would refer the donor to the attorney who drew up the documents, since that is the only sure way to confirm the identity of the signer.

Georgia Banks

10 Aug 2015

I would notarize and in my journal I would put the last name along with other required info.

Katharina Steinberg

10 Aug 2015

I would probably ask to have her date of birth included for identification, but I rather would try to get more information how to resolve this issue.

Shaine MaGuire

10 Aug 2015

I would not notarize the document because the signature and persons identity cannot be validated based on first name alone. Both first and last name would be required and must match that of a valid ID.

Karen Thomas

10 Aug 2015

Perhaps a second document (prepared by the lawyers) stating that she is the person who signed the donor document would work. This is the kind of thing that is often done when someone wants to state that they prepared an accompanying document.

M. E. Van Natta

10 Aug 2015

Yes, I would perform the notarization. The notarial certificate will have her full name, as listed on the identification.

MIKE S.

10 Aug 2015

As a California Notary, I would refuse as the document does not contain the full name of the person acknowledging the form.

Clay

10 Aug 2015

In my experience with lawyers, they have their own notaries, so they would not have to send this out of the law office to be notarized. Also, I would think there would be two seperate contracts, one for the donor and one for the recipient. I would also have to know the last name of who I was notarizing, to confirm with the ID they present.

Avo O'Brian

10 Aug 2015

I would not complete the notarizaton.

Ami S. Jaeger

10 Aug 2015

As an attorney that specialized in assisted reproduction, the agreement should be "signed" using the donor's and intended parents' initials or number that is assigned by the agency or attorney, and notarized. The attorneys have a separate confidential document with the complete names of the parties.

G. Anthony Cartagena

10 Aug 2015

I would perform the notarization with the first names, but list full in formation in my log as well as annotate the circumstances in my log.

Lori

10 Aug 2015

I would ask that an attorney be a third party verifier of her identity since it is a legal document and perhaps attach his/her name to the document as well.

Jeanne

10 Aug 2015

I would need further proof that she is the person named in the document

Alicia Martin

10 Aug 2015

I have a notary journal that I use to record all notarial acts. I would ask the Egg Donor to print and sign her full name in my journal, in addition to verifying her ID. I will also note the type of document, # of pages, and that the signer indicated her Last name remains anonymous. I will obtain a copy of the signer's thumbprint, in addition to recording the act in my journal. This shows that I acknowledge that I notarized the document for the signer. If the signer ends up putting a different last name on the document, it won't match the information I have recorded. I look forward to receiving the response to this question.

Alicia Martin

10 Aug 2015

I have a notary journal that I use to record all notarial acts. I would ask the Egg Donor to print and sign her full name in my journal, in addition to verifying her ID. I will also note the type of document, # of pages, and that the signer indicated her Last name remains anonymous. I will obtain a copy of the signer's thumbprint, in addition to recording the act in my journal. This shows that I acknowledge that I notarized the document for the signer. If the signer ends up putting a different last name on the document, it won't match the information I have recorded. I look forward to receiving the response to this question.

Eileen

10 Aug 2015

I would notarize it, assuming she had proper identification. But I would first suggest she go back to the attorney who drew up the contract and have the notary in HIS office notarize it. I would also be wondering why his notary didn't do it in the first place.

RH

10 Aug 2015

It wouldn't be possible to notarize this document itself and ensure confidentiality if the document being notarized doesn't specify who they are and isn't allowed to specify who they are. Although it ventures into possible legal advice, so the notary should not state any of this to their clients, one theoretical solution could be that each party writes a separate statement with their full details that they are x party in the contract and each separately get that statement notarized as an affidavit, without either party seeing the other's statement, and those statements being filed separately so that each party could have visibility of the contract plus their own statement but not both. The statements and contract would have to be correlated with an anonymous document number or similar method so that the statements and contracts could be put together and seen side by side if a judge/lawyer had authority to do so.

PAL

10 Aug 2015

Run from this one. The $5 for notarization in NC is not worth the headache.

Corlyn

10 Aug 2015

I would allow her to sign the document with her first name only since the others have done so too. But in my journal I would have her full name and ID information and also have her sign with her full name. Also, I would make a note in my journal about the document she signed.

William Strachan Jr

10 Aug 2015

Is the notary's record journal subject to future lawsuits such as disclosure laws or paternity lawsuits, or misrepresentation issues in the future ? . ect.....

National Notary Association

11 Aug 2015

Hello. A Notary can be sued for a notarial act months or even years after the act took place. We have a document available with tips on how to reduce a Notary's liability risks here: http://www.nationalnotary.org/file%20library/nna/webinars/steps-to-prevent-notary-claims.pdf

Deborah Henry

10 Aug 2015

No, I would not notarize it, I just don't think its a good idea.

Jennifer P

10 Aug 2015

SCAM ALERT! Having done medical research in a previous life, a RESPOBDSIBLE doctor would never accept that document without full names for malpractice reasons. Therefore, I would not. Also, in my state an attorney would act as the civil notary in this type of issue.

Kathy Sharkey

10 Aug 2015

I would refuse to notorize with only one name. I would ask her if there is a Notary that knows her personally. If not then I would refer her back to the attorney that drew up the contract(s).

Leah C.

10 Aug 2015

I would not notarize it. The signer cannot verify her identity.

Barbara E Frye

10 Aug 2015

No I would not notarize it. Even if she had a photo ID, it wouldn't necessarily mean its the person referred to in the document. I would probably refer them back to the attorney who drew up the document or another attorney's office to have it validated.

Stan Borup

10 Aug 2015

I would still require full names on the document and journal so that I could identify them in them future if needed.

Ruby

10 Aug 2015

No, I would not notarize the document without using both first and last names. I'm not even sure that it is legal to notarize a document only using the first name. I would refer them to an attorney.

Susan Victoria

10 Aug 2015

I would not notarize. There must be legal protocol for these types of documents. More than likely, the lawyer involved signs some type of affidavit attesting that their client does not have to include her last name. I would think that is the only type of document I can notarize. I would like to know the actual answer, however.

roneast2@aol.com

10 Aug 2015

Having never come across a similar situation I would either refuse or make them wait while I called NNA for advice. I do keep a journal and would require a full signature there.

DeAnn Hailey

10 Aug 2015

The document must have her full true name. Not only her first name or an alias. This is pretty basic. If she wants to remain anonymous, the center that she is going to can redact her name on the certificate to protect her privacy. It is not our job to protect privacy. It is our job to verify that the document is complete and verify the signer. REMEMBER - your personal views are not taken into consideration when you are notarizing a document. You may be penalized for failure to provide services based on your views. You do need to make sure the document is complete and to verify the signer.

JEAN LADD

10 Aug 2015

Absolutely not! If they will not provide a full name, I would refuse to notarize and send them to an attorney. I probably would also call law enforcement.

Narendra Naran

10 Aug 2015

The notary is required to insert the name of the person signing. Just entering the first name is insufficient to meet that requirement.

Charlotte

10 Aug 2015

I would not do it.

Norm

10 Aug 2015

I would not do it, as the name does not match the ID

V.E. Smith

10 Aug 2015

I would call both the NNA hotline and the CA SoS and ask if two credible witnesses could be used in this situation, or if there is an alternative solution. If a legal solution exists, I would also request the signer put her thumbprint in my journal to help further deter fraud. If a solution does not exist, I would inform the signer that the notarization is not legal under CA Notary law and she should reconnect with her lawyer.

Nancy Larkin

10 Aug 2015

I would suggest she return to the office of the attorney who drew up the contract and have them notarize it if it is appropriate. I can't give her legal advice, and I think the potential for misuse of the documents is simply too high under these circumstances.

Sally Beaudry

10 Aug 2015

I would not notarize a first name only document. Notaries are not allowed to notarize documents with blanks. To leave the last name blank opens the form up for the addition of any last name which could facilitate fraud.

lester jeffries

10 Aug 2015

yes I would notarize the document.

Mabel Swanson

10 Aug 2015

I would not Notarize the document. I have no proof that the signer before me is the person in the document with just the first name

Sherea

10 Aug 2015

I would not. I would need the names to match what's on the document with what's on the ID

Jo

10 Aug 2015

I would notarize it using her first name only as long she had 2 credible witnesses to take an oath saying that that is who she is. Log it all in my journal with her signature and thumb print

kelleym714@gmail.com

10 Aug 2015

Dan Clark, I have to say your comment that the egg donor is " sick and twisted " is truly mean and a poor choice of words. As notaries we are to keep our personal beliefs to our self and not mix those feelings with business.

Denise

10 Aug 2015

I would notarized the document but make sure sure I have all of the persons info in my journal.

RM Reyes

10 Aug 2015

No I would not notarized without full name as shown on CA I.D. or D.L.

Ron Merrow

11 Aug 2015

Dan Clark, please take your rants about Planned Parenthood elsewhere. We are here to discuss notary issues.

National Notary Association

11 Aug 2015

Hello folks, We have removed some inappropriate off-topic comments from this discussion. We'd like to ask everyone to please keep the conversation civil and stay focused on the topic of notarization issues. Thanks for your help and understanding.

Joan A. Eckert

11 Aug 2015

No I would not do the Notary

Antoinette Rosati-Hanley

11 Aug 2015

I am not a notory plan on taking a course this year, however I would like to answer this question what would I do in this case I would want both first and last names on the paperwork.

Jackie Brown

12 Aug 2015

Collect picture ID and do the signing at the Lawyer's Office or they have a legal document stating why first names.

Mary B

12 Aug 2015

I would not do it. Send her back to attorney who wrote contract. Lawyers have notaries on staff or one's who regularly do business with. If legit, the lawyer can arrange to notarize it for her - don't need me to do it.

Vivian

12 Aug 2015

I would do the notary, but would ask for a witness, and i.d., also note it in my journal.

Jennifer Shaw

13 Aug 2015

As long as she signed my book with her whole name, I'd notarize the document and note in my book that the parties were only noting their first names on the document.

ARTURO CANIZALEZ

14 Aug 2015

NO CAN DO. Needs full name with proper ID

Maria

14 Aug 2015

No, most definitely not. My mother and I have the exact same first, middle, and last names. We obviously have different dates of birth and social security numbers. We look exactly alike, just an older version. How can you be so sure I am not my mother and she's not me with just a first name?

Teresa Conlon

15 Aug 2015

I would definitely want a clarification from NNA and at my state level as to how this should be handled. It seems to me that a right to anonymity should be honored, if followed by the law, and something in place to honor this; perhaps a particular process tailored, using the fingerprint or signing by X methods that would be acceptable to NNA and/or state level.

Victoria

17 Aug 2015

If her attorney drew up the contract I would ask her why they did not notarize the document for her. If they wouldn't notarize her signature that would send up a red flag to me.

Jaye

20 Aug 2015

Absolutely once she shows me her picture Goverment ID that shows her name is “Egg Donor.”

Leona Meads

22 Apr 2017

Such a nice article thanks we liked it.

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