Thursday, June 10, 2010

Acknowledgement Issues

A deed with a questionable acknowledgement was presented for recording this morning. The parcel involved was in Lowell but the grantor purportedly lived in Chelmsford as did the two grantees who both shared a last name with the grantor. The grantor had signed the document and there was a standard Acknowledgement Clause, but the signature on the “Notary Public” line was illegible, the Notary’s name was not printed anywhere and there was no “expiration date” of the Notary’s commission shown. There was an official-looking stamp next to the Notary’s signature but the wording of the stamp was entirely in Greek.

In deciding whether to allow this document to go on record as is, I consulted with the Massachusetts Deed Indexing Standards. Standard 4-2 “Notary Rules” states as follows:

Failure to comply with the strict requirements of Executive Order 455 (03-13) shall not prevent a document from being recorded. A non-conforming acknowledgement purported to be taken within Massachusetts must contain, at a minimum, the original signature and printed or typed name of the officer making the acknowledgement, the expiration date of the officer’s commission and some language that indicates that the parties intended such signature to constitute an acknowledgement.

Because the document presented had neither the “printed or typed name” of the Notary nor the “expiration date” of the Notary’s commission, it would appear, at first glance, that the document should be rejected. But there’s another indexing standard that comes into play. Standard 4-5 Out of Country Acknowledgement states that an acknowledgement made outside the United States shall be made “by a justice of the peace, notary public or magistrate of the country where the acknowledgement is made.” Because Standard 4-2 specifies that it applies only to acknowledgements “purported to be taken within Massachusetts” that standards requirements do not carry over to Standard 4-5 which stands on its own. For that reason, I decided that the document could be recorded without further modification.

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