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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Difference Between Jurats and Acknowledgments

Near my home is a Navy Federal Credit Union branch. Being a member, I availed myself of their convenient location; this last weekend I had several documents for the Virginia Bar notarized. While standing in line, I had an opportunity to chat with another customer who was curious about what, exactly, a notary does. I thought I would explain the basics of notary lore, and remind you that our VA office provides notary service, too!

The two main duties of a notary (but by no means the only ones) are the taking of jurats and acknowledgments.

A jurat is an oath, administered by the notary, stating that the individual making the oath "swears or affirms" the truth of the matter asserted in the document. Note, it is not the notary swearing the document is truthful; it is the individual who gives the oath to the notary. A jurat has legally binding power, but requires that the affiant have actual knowledge of the information they are affirming, and that they have the capacity to swear an oath. Essentially -- someone swearing an oath or "affirming" a document is making a legally binding declaration that the information they are validating is truthful and they can be held liable if it is not.

An acknowledgement is a certification by the notary that the person who signed a document or performed some act was really who he/she said he/she was. In effect, a signer "acknowledges" his/her signature in the presence of the notary. The signer bears no legal responsibility for the content of the document; and no promises or "oaths" are given as to the truthfulness of anything contained in the document. When an acknowledgement is given, it is the notary that has a legal duty to verify the identity of the signer. Each state has its own requirements for this, but most expect valid state identification such as a driver's license as sufficient proof of identity upon which a notary may rely.

Other than wills, and certain specific legal documents that the state specifies require witnesses (attestation) to be valid, acknowledgements may be used on any document.

Generally, acknowledgments are used when proof of who has ordered the execution of something is required. An oath is required when proof of content (fact, history, etc.) or completed action is required.

"Go! Launch all the ship!" -- General (acknowledgment) "Sir! I have launched all the ships!" -- Lieutenant (jurat)

Do you have question about legal documents? Call and ask us (703-402-2723)! We're happy to help, and your first call is always free.

Sean R. Hanover, Esq Contact Us


where do i find a notary said...

Applicants must be careful about some information like applicants must have to sign their name in application exactly as he wants to see the sign as a notary- any type of variation can create problem later, a notary always must avoid liability problems and if they engaged any liability problems then office is not responsible for it, notaries must avoid to show his dishonesty, immorality or any criminal action and if they do so, disqualification to hold this office is possible.

Sean Hanover, Esq said...

You bring up a good, if not somewhat tangential, point. Your comment refers to the process of applying for a notary license. When you apply, it is important that the name on your certificate (the name you apply under) is the same as the one you use on the official documents you notarize. Most often, you seen this problem when a single woman, who is a notary, gets married. If she changes her last name as a result of the marriage, she must still notarize documents under her maiden name unless she files a change of name notice with the department of states (or the appropriate state office that manages notaries)and follows procedures for modifying her "official" notary names. Be sure to check with your state about this, as many rules relating to name changes are unique to the individual states. I recommend that you DO NOT change your name, but rather continue signing with whatever name your notary license currently shows. When you renew your license (usually every four years), change it then.

I'm not sure what you mean about liability issues. I agree that you should avoid liability problems -- but then, everyone should! If in doubt, get notary liability insurance. It is exceedingly cheap. Several states require insurance or a bond before you may be licensed.

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