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Running the Name?

February 1, 2017

“idem sonans”….what the heck is that???

Meaning sounding the same, or alike. The rule of idem sonans is that absolute accuracy in spelling names is not required in a deed or other legal document, so long as the spellings sound the same and there is no intent to deceive. Without the rule, typographical errors in a deed would result in title not passing, creating a nightmare in writing title insurance and in litigation over competing claims.

Example: Jayne Smith is idem sonans with Jane Smith.

What does this mean to us, well it means that we need to be diligent in seeking out and discovering indexing variations. This may not a be a huge concern to the recorder but can have huge implications for us, a mortgage that is indexed differently but sounding the same is considered valid and if we don’t catch it can prove to be quite costly. We must always be on the lookout for such indexing inconsistencies. We have talked about this before, but I was asked to mention a basic guideline of “what to look for” again, what seems obvious to some may be “huh” to others so here we go.

1.)          Run by names…..run with exact names first.

This is the method used to establish the chain and just see what comes up.

2.)          Run by names…..do the less is more method.

Put three letters of the last name and first letter of the given name. Not all websites will allow this but less is more should be the rule when available.

3.)          Run by names, looking for odd misspellings.

4.)          Pick up entries for Sr, Jr, III , that are easily mis-indexed for example we would look at entries for Bob Smith, Sr. Bob Smith, Jr and so on.

5.)          Common sounding names, run all reasonable variations for example Grey, Gray.

6.)          Run by names, looking at names with middle initials that have one entry, this indicates a possible typo for the middle initial.


This is by far the most controversial for example we are running Robert W. Short if you are running the list and see the name Robert A. Smith with 1 entry take a peek at it only takes a second to see if it could be a possible typo.

We run all middle initials for women because generally speaking we change our names when we marry.

We should also be looking out for the male changing their name as well, this is becoming a trend where the man takes the wife’s last name or they both hyphenate their names.

I know that this seems labor intensive 6 variations!!! Really it isn’t, once you have been abstracting for a while this practice of what to look for becomes automatic, sort of like breathing. You should follow your gut, I have found many many things over the years that I should not have, something just seemed odd so I clicked on it. So at the risk of repeating myself don’t let them sneak an indexing issue by you, seek them out! Happy hunting.