Notaries are responsible for legitimizing a wide variety of documents with all kinds of titles. However, there are two unique and separate categories that most documents will fall under. These two categories will show up in your life many times and you will benefit from understanding their simple functions. The first category is the Affidavit/Jurat and the second is called the Acknowledgement.
An Affidavit is a document where you are agreeing to all the statements in the document being true and correct to the best of your knowledge. It’s confirmed by oath or affirmation and can be used as evidence in court. These usually have a "jurat" in the notarial certificate. A jurat is essentially a verbal oath whereby you swear or affirm the truthfulness of your statement to us, the notary. This certificate usually contains the phrase “subscribed or sworn to before me.” By giving you our stamp, we attest to your promise, which can then be presented to anyone you choose. It isn’t required by law to raise your right hand when you state your oath, but sometimes a notary may ask you to do so.
An Acknowledgement, on the other hand, merely states that you appeared before a notary and signed the document. Acknowledgements usually contain the words “acknowledged before me” in their notarial certificate. It attests to the validity of your identity and lets other parties know that acceptable ID was presented to the notary at the time of the notarization. That way, third parties can know for certain that the real person signed the document willingly, which prevents issues of fraud. This is why current and correct ID is so important. Just the other day, there was a report of a notary who had taken the signatures of a married couple. Afterwards, the children of the father sued the step-mother, saying she had signed for the husband. But, because the notary had acceptable ID, recorded this information in their notary log, and they signed acknowledgments, the notary could prove that the husband not only appeared in front of them, but also signed of his own free will.
These 2 common document notarizations are the backbone of notarial services. As the signer, you will definitely come across both in your lifetime. By reading the notarial certificate, you should be able to figure out which type you have. Each one is very important for legal purposes and fraud prevention.