Notary acknowledgment is an official notarial act in which a notary public attests that a signatory, whose identity is well known to the notary public or proven based on satisfactory evidence, has affirmed, in the notary public’s presence, to having voluntarily i.e., without any form of coercion, signed a document for its stated purpose.
An acknowledgment is usually one of the most common notarial acts that a notary is usually called upon to perform. Notarization is the formal declaration before an authorized official by the person(s) who are signing a document. A common document that usually requires acknowledgment is the conveyance of land, Power of Attorneys, etc. But basically, any signed document can be acknowledged. Acknowledgment forms usually state that the document’s signer(s) personally appear before the notary public and acknowledge having signed the document for its stated purpose.
A notary acknowledgment is different from a jurat. Notary acknowledgment is used to show that the signer of a document is an approved person to do so, and the function of the notary public, in this case, is to verify the signer’s identity. Whereas, a jurat is a written notarial certificate usually found on an affidavit, application, or other documents, that indicates that the signer, whose identity is known to the notary public or proven based on acceptable evidence, has affirmed or swore to the notary under penalty of perjury that the information included in the document(s) is true to the best of their knowledge.
Types of Signatures
There are different types of signatures, each signature having a distinguished party authorized to affix it on any legal document. Some of the most common types of signatures include:
A partnership signature is a signature affixed on a document by a general partner on behalf of the partnership. The document must state that the signature is made by a partner and must also define the type of partnership, i.e., general partnership, limited partnership, limited liability partnership, or limited liability limited partnership.
A corporation can sign documents distinctive of its owners, corporate officers, and directors. In most cases, an officer of the corporation and others authorized to sign documents can legally sign documents on behalf of the corporation.
An individual signature is a signature affixed by an individual whose signature is required on a document. The individual signing the document must produce their government-issued photo identification to prove that they are authorized to sign the documents.
A jurat is a sworn statement on an affidavit showing when, where and before whom a document was signed. By signing a jurat, one affirms that the information included in the document is true to the best of their knowledge. A jurat is usually used when it is desired to encourage the person signing the documents, to be honest, and truthful.
How to Complete an Acknowledgment
Although notary acknowledgment is a common notarial act, it can, in most cases, confuse even the most seasoned notaries. Knowing what to do when acknowledging a document is crucial as such documents may form a basis for a legal argument should there be any misunderstandings or litigations.
Here are the steps to follow to make sure that it is done in the right way.
Step 1: Ask for personal appearance
When acknowledging a document, the signer must make a personal appearance before the notary public at the time of notarization. Although the document may be signed before appearing for the acknowledgment.
NOTE: It is important to note that states usually have an authorized remote online notarization permit that the signer and notary can use when using an audiovisual technology if either party cannot physically appear for the acknowledgment. The parties must obtain such permits to allow them to conduct the acknowledgment remotely.
Step 2: Review the document
Before notarizing the document, it is important to make sure that no pages are missing and there are no blank spaces. It is also important to confirm the notary certificate, indicating the desired notarization. If no certificate is included in the document, one should ask the signer why such certification is not included and provide them the appropriate certificate.
Step 3: Gather the signers
All the parties authorized to sign the document must be present at the time of notary acknowledgment. All the signers must be of legal age and must carry with them a government-issued photo identification to aid the notary in verifying their identity.
Step 4: Verify the facts
Before notarizing a document, it is important to verify the facts of the document. Ensure to check with the State’s process and requirements to confirm the documents’ facts before notarizing.
Step 5: Screen the signer’s identity
Ensuring that the signer is the authorized party to do so is very important, especially if the documents have been signed on behalf of a corporate or partnership. By asking the signer to produce their original government-issued photo identification and other documentation as required by the State, one can be able to ascertain whether they are the right persons to sign the document.
NOTE: When screening the signer’s identity, their birth certificates or social security cards cannot be used as a form of identification. Suppose the person asking for notarial services fails to produce an acceptable form of identification, such as their government-issued photo identification. In that case, their identity can be established by taking an oath or affirmation from a credible witness, e.g., a co-worker, friend, or family member personally known to the notary.
Step 6: Record the notarization
After notarizing a document, it is important to keep it on record for future reference. Make sure to mark the information required by the State along with any pertinent facts such as how the signer was identified and their official address.
Step 7: Complete the notary acknowledgment
After completing the steps mentioned above, complete the notarization with a seal and official signature. Even though the use of seals is optional in some states, some states have prescribed a format of the seal that should be used. The notary seal must contain their name as is in their certificate of appointment and must have the words “Notary Public” and their State’s name.
NOTE: When affixing the seal, it should be placed near, but not over, the notary’s signature, and the notary must include the date on which their commission expires, unless the date already appears on the stamp.
How to Fill a Notary Acknowledgement Form
Notarization has a legal impact on signed documents as it converts a private document to a public instrument. Notarization also acts as a strong proof of a document’s authenticity and renders the document admissible in court as tangible evidence once it has been notarized. However, some basic requirements must be fulfilled when filling in the notary acknowledgment form to make it authentic.
The notary acknowledgment form should include the State where the notarization took place and the county where the execution of the same occurred.
The notary acknowledgment form must also have a declaration. A declaration is a legal certification that the signer provides to the notary, affirming that they acknowledge the information included in the document and is true and accurate to the best of their knowledge.
The declaration statement should have the following:
- Date– The date on which the acknowledgment was executed
- Name and title of the notary officer– The name of the notary officer as is in their notary appointment certificate
- Name of the parties– All the parties involved must be identified in the document and their names included as is in their government-issued identification cards.
Credentials required for notarization
For the document’s notarization to be acknowledged, the signer must provide the required credentials to help prove their identity. Although the requirements usually vary from State to State, the most used documents include a driver’s license, a valid passport, and a government-issued identification card.
Signature of the notary public
If the notary public’s signature is required, the original signature of the notary is signed exactly as the name appears on their notary certificate of appointment. Consequently, if the seal and/or stamp is not used, the notary should type, stamp or print their name near their signature.
NOTE: The notary cannot use a signature stamp in place of their signature, and no other individual is permitted to sign on behalf of the notary.
Notary acknowledgments are usually recorded in the notary’s journal. The record should include the date, place, and other key details of the notarization. After the requirements and notarization process have been fulfilled, the notary will stamp and seal the document with their official public seal or stamp to show that it has been acknowledged.
A notary acknowledgment certificate is usually issued after the notarization and is in most cases included on the signed document just below the signer’s signature block that records and duly certifies the contents of the acknowledgment notarial act. The notary acknowledgment certificate must contain the name of the person who affixed their signature of the document, a statement that an acknowledgment notarial act was performed, and a statement showing that the person signed the document without being coerced to do so by anyone.
Notary Acknowledgment Form Template
Below is a sample notary acknowledgment template that one can use to draw inspiration from when performing a notarial act.
State of: ____________
County of: _____________
ss.: ___________________ (Town/City)
On this ___ (day) of _______ (year), before me, ___________ (notary’s name), the undersigned officer, personally appeared ____________ (signer’s name), satisfactorily proven (known personally to me) to be the individual whose name is included in the document and acknowledged that they willingly executed the same for the sole purpose as contained therein.
In witness whereof, I hereby set my hand and official seal.
Notary public’s signature: ________________
Date on which the commission expires: ___________
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
There are various things that can make a notarized document invalid, including documents that have no handwritten or preprinted notarial certificates attached to them; a notarial certificate that is not signed by the notary public, or a notarial certificate with a stamp and seal but has not been signed by the notary public; a document not duly signed by the intended/authorized signer, etc.
No. A notarized paper cannot be considered a legal document since notaries are not responsible for the legality or accuracy of any document that they notarize. Notaries only verify the signers’ identities, and notarization does not make a document legal if it is legally deficient before it is notarized.