An acknowledgment is the act of declaring the execution of an instrument, but the word also denotes the official certificate of such declaration. All deeds and conveyances of land to be effectual as to third parties must be recorded upon previous proof or acknowledgment of their execution. Erasures and interlineations should be noted previous to the execution, or referred to in the certificate of the officer taking the acknowledgment. It is advisable to comply with the form of acknowledgment prescribed by the statutes of the various states.
Within the several states acknowledgments may be taken in general before the following officers: Notaries public and justices of the peace generally within their territorial jurisdiction, and in any place of the state usually before judges and clerks of the supreme, circuit, probate, and county courts, judges of the United States courts, chancellors, registers, masters in chancery, and court commissioners; county recorders, town clerks and their assistants, United States commissioners, county surveyors, county auditors, registers of deeds, mayors, and clerks of incorporated cities may take acknowledgments within their jurisdiction; besides the foregoing, in several states also the deputies of the enumerated officers, and in Connecticut, commissioners of the school fund; in Louisiana, parish recorders and their deputies; in Maine, women appointed by the governor for that purpose; in Michigan, members of the legislature; in Mississippi, members of county board of supervisors; in Nebraska, the secretary of state; in New York, recorders of cities and commissioners of deeds; in Pennsylvania, mayors, recorders, and aldermen of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allegheny, and Carbondale; in Rhode
Island, state senators; in Vermont, registers of probate; in West Virginia, prothonotaries; in Wisconsin, police justices.
Without the state and within the United States, the following officers are authorized to take acknowledgment: Judges and clerks of courts of record, notaries public, commissioners appointed for that purpose by the governors, and officers authorized to take acknowledgments within their respective states. Besides the foregoing, also, in Colorado, secretaries of state; in Delaware, mayors of cities; in Illinois, justices of the peace, commissioners of deeds, and mayors of cities; in Kentucky, secretaries of state; in Michigan and Wisconsin, master in chancery; in New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island, mayors and chief magistrates of cities.
Without the United States, the following officers may take acknowledgment: Judges of courts of record, mayors or chief magistrates of cities, towns, boroughs, counties, notaries public, diplomatic, consular, or com mercial agents of the United States resident and accredited in the country where the acknowledgment is taken.
The forms of deeds conveying land are prescribed by several states, and such forms should be generally used. The requisites of a valid deed are: (1) Competent parties; (2) consideration; (3) the deed must be reduced to writing; (4) it must be duly executed and delivered. The mode and effect of an acknowledgment or of a deed is governed by the law of the state where the land lies, and not by that of the place where the acknowledgment is taken. Where the deed is executed by an attorney in fact, it is customary to have the power of attorney acknowledged by the principal and the deed acknowledged by the attorney. A deed executed by several grantors should be acknowledged by each of them.
Seals or their equivalent (or whatever is intended as such) are necessary in Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina,Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming. In almost all the states deeds by corporations must be under seal. Forms are prescribed or indicated by the statutes of most of the states except Connecticut, Florida, Louisiana. Separate acknowledgment by wife is required in Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas. One witness to the execution of deeds is required in District of Columbia, Maine (customary), Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey (usual), Oklahoma Territory, Utah, Wyoming. Two witnesses to the execution of deeds are required in Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Wisconsin.