Glossary of Terms
Acknowledgement - The positive identification of the signer by the notary through either personal knowledge or identification such as a driver's license. The signer must appear in person before the notary to request the notarization and prove their identity, if not known to the notary personally. An often confusing point for notaries to remember: it is NOT essential that the person who signed the document with acknowledgment wording sign his or her name in the presence of the notary. (This point is only for acknowledgments not jurats where the signature must be witnessed.)
An acknowledgment is a formal declaration, made to the notary by a person who has signed a document stating that their signature was made of their own free will. Wording as such "On this _________________(date) _____________________ (signer's name) personally came before me and was identified by personal knowledge or identification documents to be the person named. " Affiant - The person who makes and signs their signature to an affidavit or written statement.
Affidavit - A written statement with Jurat wording signed before a notary, whereby the signer swears that the statement is true and correct to the best of the signer's knowledge. At the bottom of the affidavit just below the signature line for the affiant is found JURAT wording such as “Subscribed and sworn to (or affirmed) before me ________________________(Name of the Notary) on this date & day of Printed Month”.
Affirmation - An oral promise, on the signer's honor, that the information provided is true and correct to the best of the signer's knowledge. Wording such as “Do you affirm that the document’s contents are true and correct under penalty of perjury?” and the Long Version Affirmation “Do you solemnly, sincerely, and truly declare & affirm that the statements made by you are correct & true to the best of your knowledge & belief under penalty of perjury?”
Apostille - Authentication certificates or documents attached to documents which need to go to court out of the country or out of state provided by the Secretary of State. Prove that the notary was commissioned and in good standing at the time of notarization. Lends authenticity to the document when it is used in Hague Convention countries.
Attest - To witness the signing of a written document at the request of the person who signs/signed the document. Attest is the same as to witness.
Attorney in fact - A person who is given written authority to act on the behalf of another. The document giving the authority is a "power of attorney".
Authentication certificates or documents - Attached to documents which need to go to court or out of the state issued by the Secretary of State or the County Clerk. These may also be called Apostilles if they are attached to documents going out of the country.
Certificate - This wording contains the necessary information that constitutes a notarization: "State of____, County of_____...Before me personally appeared_____".
Certificates of Official Character - Verify a notary's capacity to perform their notarial duties and are issued by the County Clerk.
Coercion - When one is forced to do something through fear, intimidation, or threats. A notary will refuse to notarize a signature if it is clear that the signer is being forced to do so.
Certified Copy - An exact copy of an original document. In California, notaries may only certify copies of power of attorney documents.
Credible Witness - Someone who is personally known to the notary, who can swear to the identity of a signer, when the signer is not known to the notary.
Deponent - The one who makes oath to a spoken or written statement.
Deposition – A deposition is not a Notarial act; it is a verbal/spoken testimony where a person is given a verbal oath or affirmation. A deposition is a verbal /spoken statement sworn to or affirmed by a Notary which may be transcribed into a written testimony to be used in court or legal proceedings. Depositions on Sunday: A New York Notary May NOT take a deposition for a civil court proceeding on a Sunday. If taken; this deposition is inadmissible in court. This is the only Notarial function which cannot be performed on a Sunday.
Electronic Notary Seals — ENS™ provides the final link for electronic document notarizations. NOTE: Electronic notarization processes, procedures and systems are not yet established in every state. Electronic Notary Seals in 2008 are currently available in California, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin.
Execute - To sign. Executed documents are merely signed documents.
Jurat - A type of notarization where the notary compels the signer to tell the truth through the administration of an oath. Document wording will include "sworn and subscribed" and must accompany an affidavit. The jurat is the Notarial wording at the bottom of an affidavit and not the document itself. Jurat wording example :
“Subscribed and sworn to (or affirmed) before me ________________________(Name of the Notary) on this date & day of Printed Month”.
Identification - Valid identification is required for notarization. The photo ID shall be current, not expired. Only the following ID's are valid for notarization in New York state:
1. Drivers License – New York or other state
2. State Photo Identification Card
3. Military Identification Card
4. Passport - Non-USA passports must be stamped by the INS
Notarial Certificate - The written act of a notary. This includes the state/county where notarization is performed, date, type of notarization, complete notary signature and title, and official seal.
Notary Public - Authorized by the state to witness & administer sworn acknowledgements. Please note: notaries are not attorneys, and cannot provide legal advice.
Oaths - Administered by the notary to the signer to compel truth. See Affirmation above.
Wording such as “Do you swear that the document’s contents are true and correct so help you God?”
Oath for Affidavit wording “Do you solemnly swear that the contents of this affidavit subscribed by you is correct & true to the best of your knowledge & belief, so help you God?”
Power of Attorney - A type of document whereby the signer gives the individual named in the document full or limited power to act on the signer's behalf.
Proof of Execution - A Proof is the formal declaration made under oath or affirmation by a subscribing witness to the signing of a document stating the following:
1. their place of residence in New York;
2. the fact that they knew the person described in the document and who signed the document; and
3. that they personally saw the named person sign such document described in the proof.
See Real Property Law 309-a.
Protests - A protest is a formal statement in writing by a notary public, under seal, that a certain bill of exchange, negotiable instrument or promissory note was on a certain day presented for payment, or acceptance, and that such payment or acceptance was refused. In NY, Executive Law §135 -The act may be referred to as presentment. Protests are rarely performed by modern notaries the rules & procedures for this Notarial act are very difficult to locate.
Real Property Law 309a - The certificate wording for a Proof of Execution by a Subscribing Witness, performed within New York State on a conveyance (Deed) or other real estate document made by any person with respect to real property located in New York, must conform substantially with the approved form set forth by the state, the blanks being properly filled by the notary. The person who prepares these documents will typically have the correct wording printed on them.
RESPA- or the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, was enacted in 1974 by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). According to HUD, its purpose is to clarify and outline the settlement process and fees to consumers and eliminate illegal activity such as kickbacks and referral fees among settlement service providers. Mortgage loans on one- to four-family residential property are covered by RESPA, which includes most purchase loans, assumptions, refinances, home improvement loans, and equity lines of credit.
Seal - In the case of the signer, the seal is their signature. In the case of the notary, the seal is their stamp.
Subscribing witness - to any instrument sworn to or acknowledged is typically the Notary Public.
Subscribing Witness for a Proof of Execution - “Proves” that the absent principal signer signed the document by taking a verbal oath or affirmation from the notary. The Subscribing Witness appears instead of the signer to the notary. See Real Property Law 309-a.
Truth-in-Lending Act- was enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1968 as part of the Consumer Protection Act. Its purpose is to protect borrowers by ensuring that they are aware of the terms and costs of credit, so that they can knowledgeably compare different loans and lenders. Consumers must be provided with a written disclosure of the costs associated with a mortgage loan, such as Annual Percentage Rate (APR), finance charges, annual fees, and the size of the credit line. Also known as Regulation Z, TILA also gives consumers the right to cancel certain credit transactions that involve a lien on the consumer’s principal dwelling.
Venue - The location where the notarization was performed - street number, town and county.