Errors in the Designation of Office or Title

A certificate of acknowledgment provides sufficient proof of acknowledgment and statutes does not generally tolerate errors and omissions in such documents.  However, mere technical or clerical inaccuracies in the official title of the officer issuing a certificate of acknowledgment are not usually considered fatal defects.  Thus, when a certificate of acknowledgment, taken by an officer having an official seal, is copied by the recorder of deeds, and the copy does not show that a seal was attached to the certificate, the court will presume that the original certificate had the seal attached provided it is stated in the body of the certificate as copied, that the officer taking the acknowledgment affixed his seal.  [i]

Courts generally presume that the documents were executed in accordance with the legal stipulations and presumptions are constantly made in support of official acts of public officers.  For instance, in  Long v. Joplin Mining & Smelting Co., 68 Mo. 422, 431 (Mo. 1878), the court found that the delivery of the deed may be presumed because it was the public administrator’s “obvious duty, on receiving the purchase money for the land, to have, as a concurrent act, delivered to the purchaser the necessary conveyance.”  The presumption is that the officer did not omit the performance of such a plain official duty. [ii]  The officer is presumed to have duly performed duty unless the contrary be shown.[iii]

In addition, a subtle difference in the title of the officer as given in a certificate from another jurisdiction or from the title as given in the statutory list of officers entitled to take acknowledgments will not render a certificate invalid.

Where the officer taking an acknowledgment holds more than one office and signs or describes himself or herself in both capacities, the defect is generally not fatal.  Thus, the fact that “a justice taking an acknowledgment signs the certificate as justice and alderman will not vitiate such certificate, but his official designation as alderman will be regarded as surplusage.” [iv]

[i] McCoy v. Cassidy, 96 Mo. 429, 432 (Mo. 1888)

[ii] Id.

[iii] Id.

[iv] Wilson v. Braden, 56 W. Va. 372 (W. Va. 1904)


Inside Errors in the Designation of Office or Title