What baffles me is that virtually none of our Notaries on our site can adequately describe any Notary act without Carmen or myself teaching them one by one. I cannot teach everyone by hand and I do not get paid for that either. So, here is my dissertation on how Acknowledgment procedure is typically misinterpreted by Notaries which can lead to legal issues.
QUESTION — What is an Acknowledgment?
1. The signer verifies that the document is correct
2. The Notary verifies that the document is correct
3. The Notary must witness the document being signed (only a few states require this)
4. The Notary acknowledges that the signer signed
5. “You” acknowledge the signature — who is “you?” Is it the Notary or the signer? Ambiguous and therefore not correct.
6. The signer must swear to the truthfulness of th document. (you must be thinking of a Jurat.
Some states such as Massachusetts have laws regarding signing under duress and require the signer to state, claim or swear (not sure which) that they signed a notarized document on their own free will. I do not know state Notary laws and you have to be responsible for knowing the laws of the state(s) you are commissioned in. Please do not confuse swearing that you signed a document on your own free will with swearing to the truthfulness of the document, because one of those two Oaths does not constitute or substitute the other as they are two separate and unique practices.
An Acknowledgment is a Notary act where a signer appears before a Notary Public, and acknowledges (sometimes nonverbally which is convoluted but true) that they signed a particular instrument (document) by virtue of the fact that they say, “please notarize this.” The Notary then identifies the signer normally by virtue of a current government photo ID, credible witnesses, or sometimes personal knowledge. The Notary does NOT verify if the document is correct. The Notary checks to make sure the signature on the document matches the signature in the ID and Notary journal. All three should match. The Notary then certifies that the signer appear before him/her, was positively identified, and that the signer Acknowledged signing the document. The Notary does not acknowledge or verify anything other than the fact that the signature matches their ID and the Notary journal (common misconception). The verb for the action of the Notary could be construed as “certifying” by virtue of the fact that the Notary’s job is to fill out an Acknowledgment “certificate” form for the Notary act.
1. The signer APPEARS before the Notary.
2. The signer ACKNOWLEDGES having signed a document (past tense, does not have to sign before the Notary.)
3. The Notary checks the signer’s IDENTIFICATION, or uses credible witnesses, or personal knowledge depending on state laws where you are.
4. The Notary has the signer sign a JOURNAL ENTRY. Not all states require a journal but you should keep on for legal reasons.
5. The Notary COMPARES the signature on the document, journal and ID for consistency.
6. The Notary fills out an Acknowledgment Certificate certifying that:
(a) The signer personally appeared
(b) Was proven to be the person named in the document
(c) The signer acknowledged having signed the document.
Once again, the signer does not verify the document is true. The signer does not verify signing the document, they ACKNOWLEDGE having signed the document. The document (in most states) can be signed prior to appearing before the Notary. The Notary does not verify the document is true.
You might also like:
The new acknowledgment form for transgender people
Notary Acknowledgment Wording
Notary Public 101’s guide to Notary Acts