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September 4, 2018

Who does what in an Acknowledgment?

Notary Acknowledgments

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.


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April 4, 2013

How to get something notarized that doesn’t have a signature

Many people want copies of school transcripts notarized. Especially students from overseas. The notary can not notarize a document that is not signed by the signer. Additionally, the signer must be named in the body of the document to get an Acknowledged signature.

So, how do you get something notarized that doesn’t have a signature?

Simple… The notary can draft up a statement stating that you swear that the contents of the copy of the document are a complete, true, and correct copy of the original. It is even better if the notary can inspect the original and testify in writing to the fact that he/she has verified that it is a true copy.

What about notarizing a copy of a birth certificate or vital record?

Talk to your local county clerk and ask them how to get a copy of your birth certificate. Notaries are NOT allowed to notarize copies of vital records.

How do you get a photograph notarized?
You can’t.

Some agencies are happy if the notary affixed the corner of their seal to the back of the photo, or embossed the photograph. But, you can get a signed statement about the photo notarized, and then staple the corresponding photo to the Jurat certificate — be prepared to swear under oath that that is a true photo of you.

So, now you know how to get something notarized that doesn’t have a signature. You don’t. You simply get a sworn statement and a Jurat that DOES have a statement that you can swear to and sign. Easy! But, if you get an inexperienced notary who doesn’t know what they are doing, then the procedure might not be so easy. Shop around and get a notary who knows what they are doing.

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November 26, 2011

Notary Certificates, Notary Wording & Notary Verbiage

Notary Certificates,  Notary Verbiage & Notary Wording

Notary terminology is sometimes confusing, so there are a few things to remember.  There are different types of common notarizations.  Acknowledgments and Jurats require certificate wording (notary wording), and Oaths and Affirmations could be purely verbal.  A Jurat requires that an Oath or Affirmation accompany the signing and certificate wording (notary wording, notary verbiage).  An Acknowledgment is purely paperwork in most cases, however, I have seen even an Acknowledged signature have an accompanying Oath.  80% of notarizations are Acknowledged signatures, while roughly 19% are Jurats, and the remaining 1% would be a mixture of other types of less common notary acts.
Acknowledged Signatures
The 2011 & 2012 notary certificate for an acknowledged signature includes a venue (documentation of county & state), the name of the notary, the name of the signer, the fact that the signer appeared before the notary and acknowledged signing a particular document.  The current notary verbiage on this form should include the date of the signing, and the signature and official seal of the notary as well.  The actual notary verbiage differs from state to state.  California notary verbiage is a bit different than Ohio notary verbiage.  Also, Ohio has different types of acknowledgments such as corporate acknowledgments and an attorney in fact acknowledgment.  You should ideally research your state’s notary verbiage to see what it is.  If you visit our find a notary page, there are links to states, and on the state pages, you can find a lot of information about acknowledgments and jurats in those states.  We have detailed information for Florida, Illinois, Michigan, California, Arizona, Ohio, and a few other states as well.
Jurat Signatures
The notary certificate for a jurat signature / oath has changed in many states. It is/was normal to have a venue, and then say, “Subscribed and sworn to before me (name of notary) by (name of signer) on (date).”  Then there would be a signature of the notary, and a place for the official notary seal.  Jurat verbiage also can differ from state to state so please look it up on google. 
Certificate forms.
Notary certificates can be notary wording / notary verbiage that is embedded on the last page of a document, or sometimes within a document if there are intermediary signatures.  If the notarial wording is NOT included, you must add a loose certificate and attach it to the document (by stapling). 
Filling out the forms.
Many notaries don’t understand how to fill out notary wording on certificate forms.  Let’s say a guy named Paul Solomon is the signer.  If the form says,
(note: this is not real Florida notary wording — I am making it up for educational purposes)
In real life, the Florida notary certificate is much simpler than this, but in other states there are cross outs that the notary needs to make. 
State of Florida
County of Brevard
On 8-11-2010 before me John Doe, notary public, the foregoing document was acknowledged before me by Paul Solomon, who acknowledges signing the document in his/her/their capacity(ies).
(notary seal)
In this example, it is the notary’s job to cross out the “her” and “their”, and the “ies” in capacities.  More than half of notarizations that I have seen were done by notaries who omitted to do the cross-outs.

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