"Acknowledgment" means a notarial act in which an individual at a single time and place:
appears in person before the notary;
presents an original document;
is personally known to the notary or identified by the notary through satisfactory evidence of identity;
indicates to the notary that he/she understands the contents and purpose of the document;
indicates to the notary that the signature on the document was voluntarily affixed by the individual for the purposes stated within the document and, if applicable, that the individual had due authority to sign in a particular representative capacity.
Documents typically requiring an acknowledgment are contracts, deeds, agreements, powers of attorney, etc. These documents contain terms to which the signer is agreeing.
Documents requiring acknowledgment can be signed earlier than or at the time of notarization. Either way, the signature must clearly be an original one.
If the document presented to the notary is unsigned, the notary should have the signer sign the document prior to administering the verbal ceremony. The notary will verbally ask the signer the following or similar:
“Do you acknowledge that you signed this document voluntarily and for the purposes stated therein?”
The notary will then complete the notarial act by filling out his/her notarial certificate, then signing and sealing the certificate.
Notaries public in most states are not allowed to determine which type of certificate a signer uses but may present a sample for the signer to choose from.
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