Acknowledgments and jurats are the two most common types of notarizations performed, but signers often don’t realize that they are two vastly different acts. Sometimes even Notaries become confused over which procedures apply to which acts. Take the quiz below to test your understanding of the difference between these two important notarial acts.
TRUE OR FALSE
1) Acknowledgments always require someone to personally appear before a Notary in order to be executed.
Answer: True. Though in some special cases, a representative with power of attorney or a subscribing witness may appear on behalf of the principal signer for an acknowledgment, these representatives are still required to appear in person before the Notary in order to have the document notarized.
2) A representative may request execution of a jurat on someone else’s behalf.
Answer: False. A jurat involves a personal promise by someone that the contents of a document are true. No one may take an oath or affirmation — the essential element of a jurat — in someone else’s name. For example, a representative could not appear before a Notary and swear, “I, John Doe, swear on behalf of Mary Doe this document is true.” An oath or affirmation is a personal commitment of conscience that the principal must take for himself or herself.
3) Acknowledgments and jurats both require the document to be signed in the presence of the Notary.
Answer: False. A document requiring an acknowledgment may be signed before bringing it to the Notary, but at the time of notarization the signer must be physically present to be identified by the Notary and acknowledge having made the signature willingly.
4) A jurat always requires the signer to take an oath or affirmation.
Answer: True. Making a solemn promise to tell the truth or to be faithful in carrying out a course of action is an essential part of a jurat. The Notary must always administer either an oath, a solemn promise to a higher power, or an affirmation, a promise on one’s personal honor. Both are equally binding under the law, and the signer may elect to use either one depending on personal beliefs and preferences.
5) Some signed documents require both a jurat and an acknowledgment.
Answer: True. Depending on individual state laws, a Notary might need to complete two separate notarial certificates — one for the acknowledgment, and one for the jurat. Such may be the case in some states, for example, with homestead agreements. Other states may prescribe the use of a single “hybrid certificate” including wording for both acts when both an acknowledgment and jurat are needed.