Necessity Of Seal

An acknowledgment of an instrument is made to provide notice of the transaction and is not necessary to the validity of the deed or instrument if the parties and persons have actual notice of the legal transaction.  Thus, the main purpose in acknowledging an instrument is to record it and thereby impart notice of its contents.

The requirements for validating an acknowledgement vary from state to state.  In some jurisdictions, the acknowledgment statute may not expressly or impliedly require a seal in a certificate of acknowledgement and in such a circumstance, the absence of a seal does not invalidate the certificate, even when it is executed by a notary or commissioner of deeds.  For instance, Alabama law stipulates that a seal is not necessary to convey the legal title to land.[i]  Alabama Code provides that acknowledgments may be taken by notaries public, and the substantial form of acknowledgment to be used in Alabama contains no requirement of a seal.[ii]
The certificate of acknowledgement need not be under seal unless the statute authorizing the official to take it expressly requires it.[iii]

However, where the applicable statute makes the seal mandatory, the omission of the seal from the certificate of acknowledgment will invalidate the document.  Thus, if a statute requires the officer taking the acknowledgment to certify the same under his seal, a certificate not under seal is not sufficient to admit the deed to record, and the record of such deed is not notice of it. [iv]

[i] Copeland v. Dabbs, 221 Ala. 489, 492 (Ala. 1930).

[ii] Id.

[iii] Trerise v. Bottego, 32 Mont. 244 (Mont. 1905)

[iv] Hayden v. Westcott, 11 Conn. 129 (Conn. 1835).


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