Acknowledgment is the certificate of a competent officer on an instrument that the grantor has personally appeared before him or her, declared that the instrument to be his or her act or deed and expressed his or her desire that the same be recorded. There are two aspects of acknowledgment; an oral declaration of the party executing the instrument and a written certificate, prepared by a public official, usually a notary public, attesting to the oral declaration. The requirement for acknowledgments on documents such as deeds transferring the ownership of real property or wills giving the ownership of property to a decedent’s heirs after death is established by state law. If such documents do not contain acknowledgments, such documents are ineffective and cannot be used in any legal proceedings.
A certificate of acknowledgment is evidence that the acknowledgment has been done properly. Normally, the certificate must recite: (1) that acknowledgment before the proper officer was made by the person who completed the document; (2) the place where the acknowledgment took place; and (3) the name and authority of the officer. The certificate may be on the document itself or may be attached to it as a separate instrument. Where instruments are executed by individuals, the proper person to acknowledge it is the individual or individuals who executed the instrument. An officer who has financial or beneficial interests in a transaction shall not acknowledge the instrument concerning the transaction.