Categories

A Notary Should Know How to Handle Acknowledged Statements


As stated in a previous article, sworn statements and acknowledged statements are the two most common types of notarized documents. The primary difference between the two types is that a sworn statement is made under penalty of perjury and requires an oath or affirmation while an acknowledged statement lacks these elements. If a document does not contain language about being duly sworn or upon oath, and if it has a notary certificate that does not mention an oath or affirmation or being sworn, then you are dealing with an acknowledged statement.


Unlike a sworn statement, an acknowledged statement does not have to be signed in the presence of the notary. The signer of an acknowledged statement can sign it in front of the notary or at any time prior to taking it to a notary to be notarized.

The notary certificate that accompanies an acknowledged statement is called an acknowledgment. Depending on the circumstances, the signer may be signing personally, on behalf of another person as their attorney-in-fact, on behalf of a corporation (or other organization) as their representative, or as some combination of one or more of those. The wording of the acknowledgment (notary certificate) must accurately convey the facts of the circumstances under which the document was signed.

For someone signing personally (representing no one other than themselves), these facts are that:

  • the signer appeared before the notary;
  • the notary verified the identity of the signer and noted how he or she verified it; and
  • the signer accepted responsibility for having signed the document freely and willingly.


For someone signing as an attorney-in-fact (i.e. someone named as a representative in a power of attorney), there are these additional facts:

  • The signer accepted responsibility for having signed the document freely and willingly on behalf of the principal (the person whom he is representing as an attorney-in-fact).
  • The signer stated (in some cases, swore or affirmed) that he is the attorney-in-fact for the principal and/or that the notary personally observed satisfactory evidence that the signer is the attorney-in-fact.


For someone signing on behalf of a corporation, these additional facts apply:

  • The signer accepted responsibility for having signed the document freely and willingly on behalf of the corporation whose agent he is.
  • The signer stated, swore, or affirmed that he is an agent of the corporation, stated that he has authority to execute the document on behalf of the corporation, and named his position of authority in the corporation.


A verbal ceremony is required for an acknowledgment. If a person is signing on his own behalf, this ceremony can be as simple as asking if he is signing freely and willingly with knowledge of what he is signing and waiting for him to answer yes.

When dealing with an attorney-in-fact or corporate acknowledgments, you should ask the signer to show you satisfactory evidence of his authority and/or to swear under penalty of perjury that he does possess the authority he is claiming. Satisfactory evidence would consist of the original notarized power of attorney (or an officially registered or certified copy) or a letter from the corporation on corporate letter-head naming the signer as an agent with authority to sign on its behalf. Such a letter should be signed by another officer of the corporation.

Future articles will go into more details about the jurat and the acknowledgment. The American Association of Notaries supplies stamps with standard wording for each.

This article is part of the series that began with What Does a Notary Public Do?

-- Tim Gatewood is a Contributing Writer with the American Association of Notaries

Legal disclaimer: The American Association of Notaries seeks to provide timely articles for notaries to assist them with information for managing their notary businesses, enhancing their notary education, and securing their notary stamp and notary supplies. Every effort is made to provide accurate and complete information in the American Association of Notaries newsletters. However, we make no warrant, expressed or implied, and we do not represent, undertake, or guarantee that the information in the newsletter is correct, accurate, complete, or non-misleading. Information in this article is not intended as legal advice. We are not attorneys. We do not pretend to be attorneys. Though we will sometimes provide information regarding notaries' best practices, federal laws and statutes, and the laws and statutes of each state, we have gathered this information from a variety of sources and do not warrant its accuracy. In no event shall the American Association of Notaries, its employees, or contractors be liable to you for any claims, penalties, loss, damage, or expenses, howsoever arising, including, and without limitation, direct or indirect loss or consequential loss out of or in connection with the use of the information contained in the American Association of Notaries newsletters. It is your responsibility to know the appropriate notary laws governing your state. Notaries are advised to seek the advice of their states' notary authorities or attorneys in their state if they have legal questions. If a section of this disclaimer is determined by any court or other competent authority to be unlawful and/or unenforceable, the other sections of this disclaimer continue in effect.

Notary bonds and errors and omissions insurance policies provided by this insurance agency, American Association of Notaries, Inc., are underwritten by Western Surety Company, Universal Surety of America, or Surety Bonding Company of America, which are subsidiaries of CNA Surety.