Thursday, March 15, 2012

Defective Acknowledgements - Missing Notary Stamp

For several years I've been writing about defective acknowledgements caused by the omission from the acknowledgement clause of the printed name of the person whose signature was being acknowledged.  Several bankruptcy courts have held that such an omission invalidates the acknowledgement which in turn voids the document that was purportedly acknowledged.  In the Bankruptcy Court context, this usually involves a mortgage being voided, leaving the lender as an unsecured creditor.  No Massachusetts state appellate court has decided this issue as of yet so it seems that these bankruptcy decisions serve as precedent.

The March 12, 2012 issue of Mass Lawyers Weekly, however, reports (not available online) that a Superior Court judge recently ruled that the omission of the printed name of the notary public and of the notary's seal did not invalidate the acknowledgement, notwithstanding that such admissions violate Executive Order 455 which controls the performance of notaries in Massachusetts.  Unlike the bankruptcy court decisions which seem a bit extreme (who else's signature would it be that was being acknowledged other than the person whose signature came immediately before the acknowledgement clause?), this decision seems to me to be the appropriate one.  We'll watch for any indication that this decision is being appealed.

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