Why did I have to sign my whole name?

I just came back from a closing on a refi where I was instructed to sign my name as it appeared on the form, i.e. Sweet E. Jesus, instead of my normal chicken scratch. I was under the impression from reading these “sovereign citizen” threads that I could sign an “X” and it would still be a legal signature. What’s the straight dope here?


P.S. I am in Texas if that matters.

Your signature is your signature. In cases where the name on the indstrument is different, it is acceptable (and preferred AFAIK) to print the or write the shown name then follow that with your signature.

If the instrument says S.E. Jesus will perform such and such and it is executed by S. Jesus it is possible that questions could arise as to whether S.E. agreed.

As a side light, I should think most should agree that the most important thing any of us write is our signature. Why then are so many so careless with it? Among many examples in my experience, i knew a man whose signature was a curvy horizontal line with two slashes through it. It was impossible to discern what letters let alone what name was represented.

The only place I came across this was on my passport application. I had to sign my name as it appeared on my documents. (Drivers license/birth certificate). I normally sign first initial, middle name last name.

I worked in the public aid office in Illinois and we always asked you signed your full name as if you didn’t, it usually came back disputed. Since they ask for full names it’s what they expect on the signature.

I had one woman who refused to sign anymore than her first initial and last name. I took a photocopy of her driver’s license and sent it in. It came back denied. I then resubmitted and it got approved, but the woman would have gotten it sooner, if she just gave in and signed her full name.

I think there’s a generation gap here.

Other than buying a house or car, I literally NEVER use my signature on anything. When I was filling out the mortgage paperwork (where you have to sign roughly 150 times), the agent complained that my signature was inconsistent… well of course it’s inconsistent! Firstly I don’t even HAVE a consistent signature in the first place because, until this moment, I never signed anything in my goddamned life, and secondly, my hand gets tired when I have to do it 100 times in a row. Ridiculous.

The sooner we move away from signatures, the better IMO. It’s a ridiculous form of authorization.

Sorry not trying to derail too much. I just had to address that.

Can I ask how old you are? I’m 32 and I’ve been signing my name for a very long time, and I’ve done it a lot. I’ve only written a limited number of checks in my life, but I sign credit card receipts regularly, I sign for packages and deliveries, and I sign various forms and paperwork and all kinds of crap all the time. I can see how you can make the point that younger people don’t sign their names as much as people used to, but never signing anything in your LIFE until you bought a house? That’s really hard for me to grasp, personally.

Interesting, I’m actually a couple years older than you.

My packages are all delivered to the receptionist at work, so I never sign for those. I don’t often pay with credit cards, so I only very rarely sign for those. Moreover, I know nobody actually checks the credit card receipt, so it doesn’t matter what I sign. (I wager the same is true of package deliveries.)

As for “various forms and paperwork”, all I can think of is my loans-- auto loan, mortgage. I guess I had to sign for my driver’s license and voter registration, but that happens, what, once a decade? Max? I’ve been doing income tax e-file since it was available, so… 2002 or so.

At the time I bought my house, basically the only signing I did was a couple checks (before I got a debit card), my driver’s license, voter’s registration, and maybe another thing here or there. With months or years between each thing. It was certainly the first time I’d signed my name 50+ times in a row.

What bothered me is that the (much older) signing agent got angry at me because I didn’t have a established, consistent signature, and I was getting angry that she was getting angry because why the heck would I? Was there some unspoken memo that I was supposed to spend a couple years practicing signing my name to make it consistent? Or what?

Hell, I hardly write anything at all, much less sign paperwork. I can’t remember the last time I took a pen and wrote something down that wasn’t on a whiteboard at work…

I don’t have great penmanship and my signature always looked like it was made by a fifth grader. Then I got a job where I have to sign or initial a shitload of documents, so my signature today looks a lot different than it did say 15 years ago. But every now and then I have to sign a document with my full name, and it’s right back to the fifth grade. Doesn’t look much at all like my “normal” signature, having to think about adding that middle name or something messes with my brain.

I thought the legal theory was the signature isn’t the mark, but the deliberate considered action which makes the mark. Which is why a perfect forgery of your signature isn’t a valid signature.

So if you choose to mark with your full name in draughtsman’s lettering, or a squiggle, or a single stroke… those are signatures.

ETA: All of that said, 21 years of military life made me the master of my own signature. It’s kind of amusing, really… the first few years of my career, you could actually make out what my name is supposed to be. By the midpoint, you could almost pick out my initials. By the time I was signing off on my retirement paperwork, all you could tell is that my name was a slightly bumpy curved line.

It’s got less to do with a generation gap than with what kind of work you do - and I think everyone’s signature degrades when your signing 50 times in a row. I probably sign my name 30 times a day just at work- I actually bought a signature stamp so just so my signature is recognizable by the 30th time.

I’ve never had to sign my full name. Just First Last, and that was it.

I don’t even write in cursive so if I were forced to sign my full legal name my two middle names would look awfully weird since I never normally write those words in cursive.

Yeah, I didn’t get this either. I put my signature on the line that said “signature” and they asked me to re-do it, with my full name. I explained that wasn’t my signature. They kept saying it was mandatory, so I then said, “So, what you want is for me to *write out my full name *on the space that sez signature”?

I never sign my full name anymore not even on legal documents. I sign my first initial and the first four letters of my last name and a line for the last three letters. It’s just the why it has evolved over the years. Even if the document asks for a middle name I just don’t do it. Never had a problem, even on a car, house or passport.

Your signature is your name, or any other distintive mark, written so as to authenticate a document or to identify yourself. Your signature is often distinctive, but need not be. You do not have to have an invariant signature, and on different occasions you can use different versions of your name (or indeed different names, if you have more than one) or different markings; they can all be your signature. What makes them your signature is the fact that they are written for authentification or identification purposes.

So if someone asks you to sign your full name for the purpose of identifying yourself or authenticating a document and you do so, that is your signature, even if your usual signature is something different.

It’s not lawyers who are insisting on it. Generally, it’s real estate agents or loan officers or public aid administrators — i.e., people who don’t know the law (and don’t know what signatures are for in the law), but who also have an outsized notion of how much they know.

In other words, dogs obeyed in office and all that.

Auditor requirement, that’s why.

Auditors can be collosal assholes.

When I was younger I rarely had to sign anything - once or twice a week, if that.

I then got a job where I had to sign multiple times a day. My signature went from “yeah I can kind figure out your name, is that two 'e’s and an ‘l’; or one ‘e’ and two 'l’s?” to basically my initials with extended tails. I can authenticate my signature as I write it today.

I will not authenticate a full hand written signature as that is not how I sign. Anything that requires that level of uptightness will be witnessed anyways.

On an typo’d cheque I will sign the erroneous name and re-sign with my correct signature.


Were you never a bored preteen?

For what it’s worth, my signature is a stylized, barely legible pair of abbreviations for my first and last names. Like how Wm. is short for William, but my names don’t have official abbreviations. And I’ve never been hassled. Also, when asked to initial something, I literally use J cubed, like J[sup]3[/sup], without problems.

It has been many years since I signed something by writing my name exactly as it appears on the document. I do, however, have two different signatures. I have a quick signature when I’m signing a credit card slip or accepting a package. When I’m autographing books, however, I use something much more clear and flowery. I figure if the person just paid for one of my books and requested an autograph, the least I can do is give them a legible signature.

This probably goes in the “taking notes” thread as well, but I found some of my own college notebooks recently and most of my “notes” consist of me practicing my signature over and over and over. Pages, entire notebooks, full.

I did finally get good at it, though. Buy one of my books and I’ll gladly give you the full treatment.