Larmer v. Larmer – 11/8/2016

November 22, 2016

Arizona Court of Appeals Division One holds that an acknowledgment taken and certified by an Arizona notary in Arizona may be valid even without the notary’s seal.

An individual challenged the validity of a deed.  The deed was acknowledged before a notary, who used her embossing seal rather than an official seal to notarize the deed.  The individual alleged the deed was invalid because it could not be “duly acknowledged” under A.R.S. § 33-401(B) without an official seal.  A.R.S. § 41-313 requires an official seal; A.R.S. § 41-321 states that an embossing seal is not an official seal.

A deed is duly acknowledged if it complies with the acknowledgment and certification requirements of the Uniform Recognition of Acknowledgments Act (“URAA”), codified in A.R.S. §§ 33-501 to -508.  Under the URAA, an instrument can be valid even when it does not comply with another statute because the URAA is intended to provide an alternative method of validating notarial acts.

The URAA requires a notary to certify that the person acknowledging the deed (1) appeared before the notary, (2) acknowledged his execution of the deed, and (3) was the person described in the deed.  Under § 33-506, statutory short forms of acknowledgment satisfy the URAA’s requirements and are sufficient “under any laws of this state.”  The URAA does not require a seal when an Arizona notary certifies an acknowledgment within Arizona.

Thus, the Court of Appeals held that because the deed used the URAA’s statutory short form of acknowledgment, it met the URAA’s certification requirements and is deemed duly acknowledged even without the official seal.

Judge Norris authored the opinion; Judges Thumma and Downie joined.