Steps to Proper Notarization

Handling Two Types of Notary Certificates on One Document

When two types of notary certificates appear on one document, the notary should not take it upon themselves to decide between the two, nor should they ask the signer of the document to select only one of the certificates to be completed. The notary should simply follow notary procedure to complete each type of notary certificate, handling each as a separate act. To do otherwise could be making significant changes to an important document. This could be construed as the unlawful practice of law.

However, the question may form in the notary’s mind, “Why would there be two different types of notary certificates for one signer on one document?” While it is not up to the notary to understand the answer to this question, there is at least one common explanation. The following is not presented as the only reason, nor is it a discussion of legal document construction; this is a practical example of dual notary certificate use which may clarify the notary’s understanding upon encountering the situation.

One common reason a notary can be presented with a document with both types of certificates is two-fold.

1. The document with two types of notary certificates may be an affidavit or sworn statement requiring a jurat. A jurat is a certificate executed by a notary before whom an oath is made, which certifies that the affiant swore, or affirmed before the notary to the truth of the statements made, and signed in the notary’s presence. Therefore, the constructor of the document determined a jurat was necessary and included the same.

2. In addition, the document which has been sworn to by the signer may also require recording in the official public records of a locality. This may be why the acknowledgment is attached to the document in addition to the jurat. Recorders of documents are often most familiar with the notary acknowledgment certificate. Therefore, the acknowledgment could also be added during construction in order to facilitate unquestioned acceptance by the recorder of documents into public records.

While notaries do not need to be concerned with the legal construction of the document the above explanation might clarify to the notary that there are specific purposes for both types of certificates and that the drafter of the dual certificate document did intentionally include both types.

For instance, there are affidavits which commonly appear in real estate transactions or in loan documentation that fit this description. The drafter of the document may see a reason that the document must both sworn to and recorded in a county recorder’s office and both a jurat and an acknowledgement included in the document construction to facilitate the process.

Such documents often have the word “affidavit” in their title. Common titles of these types of documents are similar to

-Affidavit of Designation of Homestead,
-Same Name Affidavit,
-Identify Affidavit, or
-All Bills Paid Affidavit.

The above discussion is not intended to be a full list of the document titles which may appear before the notary with both a jurat and an acknowledgment attached to them. This is also not to suggest that such documents must have both a jurat and an acknowledgment. It is never up to the notary to determine the type, or in this case, the “types” of certificates attached to a document. Nor is this to imply that the word “affidavit” must appear on documents bearing two types of certificates. In fact, no title may appear on the document. An experienced and educated notary knows it is not up to the notary to question the construction of a document aside from what is set forth in their notary rules for proper notary procedure.

It is strongly recommended that notaries become extremely familiar with their notary rules and educate themselves regularly as to how to perform adhering to their laws and within the boundaries of their duties. By regular exposure to notary educational materials and self-testing on one’s notary law a notary will be able to avoid over-thinking their duties in cases such as the document with two types of notary certificates. Notaries who know their state’s rules can confidently handle any type of notary procedure presented to them whether acting as a general notary public, as an office worker, a mobile notary, or as notary signing agent.

The information provided herein is not intended to be an authoritative statement of law. Notary laws differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and may be interpreted or applied differently depending on your state’s statutes or situations. By providing this information, we are not acting as your attorney. We are providing this information based on long-established and recognized notarial standards and practices. If you have legal questions regarding acts or conduct as a notary public, please consult with an attorney or refer to your state’s statutes or other appropriate legal resources.

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.