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.