In a real estate context, a formal declaration that the execution by a person of an instrument is his act and deed.

In many jurisdictions, the officer who takes the acknowledgment attaches a certificate to the executed instrument that includes:

  • The name of the person who executed the document.

  • A statement that the person who executed the document:

    • appeared in person before the officer;

    • is either known to the officer or proved his identity; and

    • stated to the officer that he executed the instrument.

  • If the document was signed by an entity:

    • the title or position of the person executing the instrument; and

    • that the entity duly authorized the execution of the instrument by the person.

  • In some cases, the consideration given in connection with the instrument.

The certificate attached to the executed instrument is also commonly referred to as an acknowledgment.

An acknowledgment is made before a duly authorized officer. Although acknowledgments are typically taken by a notary public, most jurisdictions authorize several different officers to take acknowledgments.

An instrument is acknowledged to:

  • Make the instrument recordable.

  • Promote the security of land titles.

  • Prevent fraud in conveyancing.

  • Furnish proof of the due execution of conveyances.

  • Permit the instrument to be used in evidence without further proof of its execution.

Most jurisdictions specify one or more forms of acknowledgment certificate to be used within the jurisdiction but will accept instruments that contain an acknowledgment certificate that conforms to the requirements of the state where the instrument was executed.

For information on acknowledgment requirements in various states, see Real Estate Ownership: State Q&A Tool: Question 7 ( .

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