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Courts Invalidate Mechanics Liens Executed With Acknowledgments Vs. Jurats

NotaryBulletinIcon612.jpgJust about everywhere you look notarized documents are being challenged. Most recently, courts in two states invalidated mechanics liens against commercial properties because they were improperly notarized using an acknowledgment instead of a jurat, which requires the signer to give an oath or affirmation attesting to the truthfulness of the document.

The Rhode Island Supreme Court recently invalidated a mechanics lien because it was required by state law to be executed “under oath” via a jurat but, instead, the notarization performed was an acknowledgment. The lien was signed and notarized across state borders in Pennsylvania. It was not clear how, or why the incorrect notarial act was performed, which resulted in the document being deemed untrustworthy. In a similar case in Connecticut, the court there also invalidated a mechanics lien because the “notarization amounted to an acknowledgment, not an oath.”

Notarizations are essential for mechanics lien statements across the United States, according to Scott Wolfe, founder of Zlien, a nationwide mechanics lien and preliminary notice filing service. In some states, a signature on the lien is an afterthought, but in other states, the signature requires notarization under specific instructions, often requiring an oath. Whether a mechanics lien does or does not need notarization differs from state to state, and situation to situation, Wolfe said.

Notaries are not attorneys and cannot prescribe specific notarial acts to signers, but they can describe the purpose and function of the different types. The signer can then choose the type of notarization they want, or they can check with the receiving agency or party to verify the type of notarization required.

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