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Notary Notes

Understanding Forms of Acknowledgment

by PAN
Since the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (RULONA) took effect in October 2017, PAN members have asked many questions about the changes in the law. For example, members have asked whether they should take a customer's acknowledgment if the notarial certificate (notarial wording) on the record is different from the short form given in RULONA.

This is a frequent concern, since several million documents requiring acknowledgments are filed with the county recorders of deeds every year. The new notary law does not require notaries to change the old forms of acknowledgment on these documents to the new forms. RULONA just simplified the wording on the notarial certificates.

Look for the basics

Remember than an acknowledgment is a notarial act in which you certify that a signer you have identified has admitted to you that he or she voluntarily signed a record for its stated purpose. Your official stamp and signature on the notarial certificate are prima facie (Latin for "at first look" or "on its face") evidence that you performed your notarial duties properly, and that the facts sated in the notarial certificate are true.

Whether the notarial certificate reads, On this, the 23rd day of February, 2018  or just  ... on February 23, 2018, the certificate provides the date when you took the customer's acknowledgment. Whether the certificate states that the customer was known to you or satisfactorily proven to you to be the individual who signed the record, your official stamp and signature indicate to the receiver of the record that you performed your duties as a notary and identified the customer. Whether you describe the customer as "... the person whose name is subscribed to the within instrument ... or just give the customer's name, the customer who is acknowledging the signature is named in the notarial certificate. Whether the customer  ... acknowledged that he executed the same for the purposes therein contained or simply acknowledged the signature, the certificate indicates the notarial act that you performed.

Not just the certificate

Both the notarial certificate and an awareness of your duties as a notary public provide the necessary assurances to the receiver of the document that the customer properly acknowledged his or her signature. Your official stamp and signature stand as evidence that you took the cusotmer's acknowledgment according to the law:
  • You demanded personal appearance. Your customer must be in your presence, in person. Make sure he or she is competent and willing to acknowledge his or her signature.
  • You identified your customer. You must know your customer personally, examine an acceptable form of ID, or use a credible witness to identify your customer.
  • You asked your customer to acknowledge their signature. Your customer must acknowledge to you that he or she signed the record. Compare the signature to the signature, if any, on your customer's identification.
  • You completed the notarial certificate. Check the venue, the notarial wording for an acknowledgment, and the current date. Remember to sign your name as it appears on your commission and apply your official stamp.
Over time, you will see the old and the new forms of acknowledgment on records you are asked to notarize. If you have a question, call or chat online with a PAN Customer Service Representative and get the help you need.


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