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.
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.