Can a DBA Sign a Deed of Trust for a Corporation?

By Joe Stone

All states permit business owners to use a DBA -- "doing business as" name -- regardless of whether the owner is an individual, limited liability company or corporation. Sometimes referred to as an assumed name, trade name or fictitious business name, the DBA is not the legal name of the business. When an important legal document, such as a deed of trust, needs to be signed by a business operating as a corporation, the legal name of the corporation must be used on the document.

All states permit business owners to use a DBA -- "doing business as" name -- regardless of whether the owner is an individual, limited liability company or corporation. Sometimes referred to as an assumed name, trade name or fictitious business name, the DBA is not the legal name of the business. When an important legal document, such as a deed of trust, needs to be signed by a business operating as a corporation, the legal name of the corporation must be used on the document.

Corporation Name Basics

All corporations are formed by filing articles of incorporation, or similar document, with a state agency, such as the secretary of state. The name of the corporation set forth in the articles of incorporation is the corporation's legal name. Important legal documents, such as licenses, permits and tax filings, must use the corporation's legal name. Although it is not required, a corporation can use a DBA to conduct business, as long as the corporation follows the DBA laws of the state where it is located.

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Using a DBA

Each state has its own DBA laws, which vary in different respects. All states, except Alabama, Arizona, Kansas, Mississippi and New Mexico, require every business using a DBA to register with a government agency. Some states require registration at the state level -- typically the secretary of state -- while other states require registration at the local level, with either the county clerk or court. The primary purpose of the registration requirement is to make available to the public the legal name of the owners of any business using a DBA.

Deed of Trust Basics

The deed of trust is a document used to secure repayment of a monetary obligation, typically a loan to buy real estate. The deed of trust is signed by the borrower and recorded in the local government property records office along with the title of the real estate bought with the loan. If a corporation is the loan borrower, the deed of trust must be signed in the legal name of the corporation to be valid. As an option, the corporation can include the DBA along with it legal name, for example, XYZ, Inc. d/b/a/ ABC Properties.

Signing a Deed of Trust Using a DBA

In states where a DBA must be renewed on a periodic basis -- for example, every five years in California and Vermont and every 10 years in Texas -- the DBA will expire if not renewed and the name can be registered by another person. If a corporation's DBA is used in conjunction with its legal name on a deed of trust, the DBA must be renewed to prevent another person from acquiring the rights to the DBA while the deed of trust is in effect. Failure to do so could result in legal costs and expenses to correct the name on the deed of trust.

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Setting Up a DBA in Massachusetts

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Can an LLC File a DBA & Still Do Business Under the LLC Name?

An LLC, or limited liability company, is a legal entity that has its own rights and obligations separate from its owners; conversely, a DBA is not a legal entity, and whoever uses a DBA assumes all of the obligations of the business. An LLC and DBA can be used in conjunction with one another, but care must be taken to use them properly so as to avoid personal liability where none was intended.

Who Can Act As Trustee in a Texas Deed of Trust?

A deed of trust is a type of trust instrument that transfers interest in real property. In Texas, a deed of trust is most commonly used to secure a loan for the purchase of a home or other real property until that loan is repaid and the trust is voided, similar to how mortgages are used in other states. It can also be used, however, as a more permanent part of a comprehensive estate plan. The trustee, the person or entity who owns and manages the property, must meet Texas' legal requirements for trustees.

What Does DBA Mean in Business?

In the business world, DBA - which stands for "doing business as" - is a vitally important acronym to know. It signifies that an individual or company is doing business under a fictitious name. One common example would be a chain store franchise, operated under a commercial name familiar to everyone but actually run by an individual or firm owning the local franchise. State laws govern the creation and use of DBA fictitious names.

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