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What is the Difference Between an Acknowledgment and a Jurat, and How Do I Know What I Need?

Unless a Notary is an attorney or licensed/certified professional in a relevant area of expertise, it is strongly discouraged to offer guidance on which form to utilize, due to the legal implications behind each form. You as the individual will need to determine what document is needed, and hopefully by helping to explain the difference between the two below, you can determine whether an Acknowledgment or Jurat is needed. If still in doubt, you can always consult with an attorney or other expert.

According to the Michigan Notary Law Primer, the Acknowledgement is the more common of the two forms to use in notarization, and is usually used on forms that will be publicly recorded. A Jurat on the other hand, is more commonly used to compel the truthfulness of an individual’s signature by appealing to their conscience and fear of criminal penalties, since their signature is taken under oath.

To execute an Acknowledge, the following criteria must be met:

  • The signer must personally appear before the Notary on the date & county listed
  • The signer must be positively identified by the Notary; and
  • The signer must freely acknowledge that they are signing the document of their free will

To execute a Jurat, the following criteria must be met:

  • The signer must personally appear before the Notary on the date & county listed
  • The signer must be positively identified by the Notary;
  • The Notary must watch the signer affix their signature to the document; and
  • The Notary must administer an oath or affirmation to the signer
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