Legality of Handwritten Notarized Document

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Legality of Handwritten Notarized Document

My ex-husband and I are both on a mortgage for a condo in which only he lives and wants to sell. He has verbally agreed not to hold me responsible for any loss on this property and I have verbally agreed not to claim any profit. I feel uneasy about this and think we should have a legally binding agreement. If we write something ourselves and have it notarized, would it be legally binding if challenged?

Asked on October 30, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

A handwritten and signed contract, whether notarized or not (notarization adds nothing in this context) is enforceable as long as it meets the criteria for a contract: there are definite, clear terms; there is an exchange of things or promises of value ("consideration"), such as him promising to not hold you responsible for a loss in exchange for you agreeing to not claim any profit; and you both evidence agreement, such as by signing. What you describe can and should be put into a written contract, and if you do and you both sign it, it is enforceable.
Bear in mind that it only is enforceable as to the signatories (you and him): i.e. no matter what the two of you agree among yourselves about profits or losses, if you default on the mortgage, the lender can hold both of you liable for it. The agreement might force him, depending on the terms, to reimburse you for anything you had to pay in that context (if that fell under not holding you responsible for a loss), but that would give you rights against him, not the lender.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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