Colorado Springs Notary - Leon Austin


Be prepared for the unexpected: certified copies

What would you do if one of your valuable documents were lost, or destroyed?

I did a closing for a woman whose husband is in a nursing home. He granted her Power of Attorney.  There was just one problem. The title company wanted the power of attorney document so that it could be recorded.  The borrower was very upset about this, because it was the only document she had showing that she has power of attorney. And she uses it often.

Colorado notaries are permitted to certify copies of documents.  So, with her permission, I made a copy of the power of attorney document and certified it, at no charge.  It put her mind at ease knowing that she had a certified copy that she could use while the title company had the original.

I got a call last week from a German woman to certify copies of some of her valuable documents. A total of 11. And multiple copies of a few of them. Not only would they be used for her present needs, she was prepared for the unexpected.

There was a tragic fire in Colorado Springs at the Castle West apartment complex in January of this year. Although many of the basic needs of the residents were met, one of the things they continue to need help with is recovering many of their valuable documents that were destroyed. So I volunteered to help, at no charge, and continue to do so.  I got a call a week after the fire from a man needing a copy of his birth certificate. He contacted the Salvation Army, and they referred him to me.  Unfortunately I cannot certify copies of birth certificates.  But I was able to do a search on my computer to locate the out of state agency that would be able to help him.

Insurance against loss or destruction

Think of a certified copy of a document as a form of insurance. It is insurance to the holder of the document that, if they should lose the original, or if it should become destroyed, they have a copy of it that, in many cases, is just as acceptable as the original .  And just like any other form of insurance, it gives the holder of the document peace of mind. (No, notaries are not permitted to certify copies of $100 bills. So please don't ask.)

Certified copy of a driver's license

I spoke with a Colorado Springs police officer regarding certified copies of a driver's license. I wanted to know if the police officer would accept it if the driver were pulled over for some reason, or involved in a traffic accident.  For example, if the driver's wallet was lost or stolen, they left it somewhere, their driver's license was destroyed, etc. I was told, if the driver presented the officer a certified copy of the driver's license, it could be accepted, as a temporary measure. It's up to the discretion of the officer as to what action they would take. The police officer could check it on the computer and let the driver off with a warning to get a replacement as soon as possible. But it's unlikely that the driver would go to jail, or be ticketed for driving without a license. Again, it's up to the discretion of the police officer.

Although there are several steps involved, the procedure for certifying a copy of a document isn't complicated. And once it is done, I recommend that the person store the document in a safe place.

Not all states permit notaries to certify copies of documents. Notaries will have to check the notary laws for their state to know whether they can or not, what procedures to follow, and what restrictions apply. Even in states where it is permissable for notaries to certify copies, there are certain documents for which copies cannot be certified. Copies of vital records, such as birth, marriage, death certificates and divorce decrees cannot be certified by notaries. To obtain certified copies of these documents a person would have to contact the bureau of vital statistics for their state.

I encourage everyone to take inventory of any important documents they have, and make arrangements to have certified copies of them made. Prepare yourself for the unexpected.


Comment balloon 12 commentsLeon Austin • April 16 2007 11:59AM


Leon - this is excellent advice, and one never knows when documents such as these will be needed.  Get preparation tips!  Thanks for sharing.


Posted by Ann Cummings, Portsmouth NH Real Estate Preferrable Agent (RE/MAX Shoreline - NH and Maine) over 13 years ago


Great post. What I can't understand is why attorneys will create a power of attorney and not give the client multiple originals. 

Posted by Terry Lynch (LAR Notary and Closing Services) over 13 years ago

Ann & Terry, Thank you.

"What I can't understand is why attorneys will create a power of attorney and not give the client multiple originals."

Terry, this is actually a very good suggestion for anyone who is granted power of attorney: have a certified copy of it made at the same time.

Regarding obtaining multiple copies from the attorney, it is advisable to have an attorney draw up this document, and I would highly recommend it. But it isn't necessary that it be done by an attorney. A person can obtain the forms themselves, complete them, and have them notarized.

Posted by Leon Austin, Colorado Springs Mobile Notary (Mobile Notary Services) over 13 years ago

We have many clients that use poa's and it really is a great idea to ask them to get a backup copy!!!


Posted by Chris Tesch, College Station, Texas Real Estate (RE/MAX Bryan-College Station) over 13 years ago
I keep multiple copies of my important documents in different locations, as well as digital copies of them. works pretty good!
Posted by Luther Harrity - Saint John, Rothesay, Hampton, New Brunswick Real Esate (Royal LePage Atlantic/Harrity Real Estate Services) over 13 years ago
Very practical advice and something I had never given much thought to.  Thanks for enlightening us.
Posted by Diane Bell, Hilton Head Real Estate, Bluffton (Charter 1 Real Estate, Hilton Head, Bluffton, SC) over 13 years ago
Leon great posting , also the idea  of storing scanned documents online is something everyone should consider .
Posted by Joe Gomez (Realty Executives of Treasure Valley) over 13 years ago

Chris, Luther, Diane, Joe, and the rest of you who have commented, thank you.

And to the very many of you who have simply viewed this topic, and left with the resolve to discuss this with friends and family members, thanks to you too.  Dissemination of ideas. The internet facilitates this.

"digital copies of them. works pretty good!"

"... the idea  of storing scanned documents online is something everyone should consider ."

Luther, and Joe, you have offered some thought-provoking suggestions: digital media, and storing documents online. I promise to look into as many different possibilities, and provide as much information as I can. Not just about certified copies. And I invite other notaries to join in the discussion.

Electronic notarization is an area where I see a lot of potential for streamlining, and making it more efficient to do many of the transactions that we are involved in that require notarized documents.

It's time to get rid of all the paper. It's a digital age. We need to keep in step.


Posted by Leon Austin, Colorado Springs Mobile Notary (Mobile Notary Services) over 13 years ago
I never thought about it. I think I need to get certified copies of some of mine.
Posted by Christy Powers, Pooler, Savannah Real Estate Agent (Keller Williams Coastal Area Partners) over 13 years ago
Interesting that the comments havr focused on duplicate copies rather than your volunteering to make copies for those in need.  Kudos for your efforts.
Posted by Sharon Simms, St. Petersburg FL - CRS CIPS CLHMS RSPS (Coastal Properties Group International - Christie's International) over 13 years ago


Excellent article!  I'm glad to know the info on the drivers license!  Never thought about it before!

Posted by Bonnie Marie DeWolfe (Eagle Ridge Signatures Inc.) over 13 years ago

Some states require or just allow if the person wishes, for POA's to be filed with the Registrar's Office. As a matter of fact some lender's will not accept one that is not filed thusly.

In Tennessee and possibly other states Notary's can not certify a copy of anything that is "public record". That would include a POA that is filed.

When filing it with the Registrar's Office it makes it publicly known that the POA was done and the Registrar should provide at least one copy that is certified. We always recommended that several be obtained and placed in various safe places.


Posted by Mary Ellen Elmore over 12 years ago

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