These common documents require particular caution when executed:
Ohio Vehicle Titles
This document is very often completed incorrectly for private sales between individuals, resulting in the need to obtain a duplicate title. Important points to remember:
Do not complete any of the spaces, or sign the title until the notary is present. Any erasures or other alterations to the title WILL VOID IT!
Make certain the deal is going to be completed before executing the Assignment of Ownership section. The buyer does not need to be present for the seller to complete the Assignment section; but, the seller must have the name and address of the buyer in order to complete the section and have their signature notarized.
The Assignment of Ownership section is a SWORN statement by the Seller, that the information they are providing for the title transfer is truthful and correct. This includes the buyer’s name, the odometer reading, and the ACTUAL sales price. The Seller MUST appear, show identification, be given an oath/affirmation, and sign in the presence of the notary.
The title signatures cannot be notarized with any blank spaces on the document.
Note that there is no such thing as an “open” title for a private sale. The seller cannot just sign over the title to the buyer, and have it notarized later. Again, the seller MUST appear, show ID, complete all spaces, and sign before the notary.
This is the reason the state requires notaries for this process – to prevent fraud. Otherwise, someone could steal a title document, forge a name as the seller, and then acquire a new title.
The only exception to this is if the signer has executed a Power of Attorney form permitting a third party to act and sign on his/her behalf. This form is available at all BMV locations or their website, and its signature must also be notarized.
Living Will and Health Care Power of Attorney
These two important documents go hand-in-hand, and everyone over 18 should have both of them. They are essential to conveying your wishes regarding your health care, and for designating a family member or other person of your choice to make health decisions on your behalf if you become unconscious or incapacitated.
These documents are readily available at no cost from the Franklin County Recorder, Ohio Department of Health website, senior citizen centers, county agency on aging, or the social services departments of most health care facilities. Please don’t wait until you’re already in the hospital, or very ill. If the notary cannot determine that you are aware of, and fully understand, what you are signing, the notarization cannot be completed. Get these documents completed BEFORE you need them, and have copies available whenever you enter a health facility. This provides you and your family the peace of mind of knowing your wishes will be followed.
General, Durable, or Financial Power of Attorney
This is another very important document that permits a person/agent of your choice to handle your financial and personal affairs iif you are unable to. These may include your bank accounts, securities, home mortgage, and other essential activities.
A POA is a very powerful instrument that should be drawn up and executed with the utmost care and consideration. It's essential to determine which type of POA the signer wishes to utilize based upon their wishes/needs.
While there are generic forms available at some local stores and on the internet, these may not necessarily be compliant with state or county requirements.
Always check with your financial institution to determine what format they will accept in the handling of and access to your accounts; they may also have their own POA form that they prefer you use. It is always best that this form be drawn up to your specific wishes by an attorney - it's well worth the money to ensure it is done properly, and to avoid potentially unpleasant surprises later.
If the notary is not satisfied that the signer is fully aware of the document content and signing it freely, then the notarization cannot occur.
In Ohio, notaries are not permitted to directly certify, or affix a seal to, copies of documents, photographs, or anything else not involving a signature.
However, the person providing the document copy can make a written statement attesting that the copy is a true reproduction of the original, and then have their signature notarized on that statement, which can be written upon or attached to the copy.
Please note that this does NOT include vital record certifications such as birth, death, marriage, or divorce.
Last Will and Testament
This vitally important document dictates your wishes regarding your personal affairs and estate after your death. Again, this document is much too important to entrust to some store-bought, generic form. Many attorneys will prepare a simple will at a reasonable cost, and it's well worth it to ensure your wishes are carried out. If you die without a will, the Probate Court will determine what happens to the assets you spent a lifetime building, and it may not be in the way you would have wanted. In Ohio, Last Wills are not notarized; they are only witnessed by two non-family, totally disinterested persons. The witness signatures may be notarized if desired.
This is a Homeland Security form required by all employers to confirm identification documents, and to verify the employee's right to work in the U.S. Some out-of-state employers request this form be notarized for their remote Ohio employees.
This is not a notarizable form in Ohio, as notaries here cannot certify anything but a signature. We cannot act as a notary public for this form, nor affix a notary seal to the document. However, we can verify IDs, and sign the form as the remote employer's "Authorized Representative".
Help Is Available
In the Columbus area, if you have questions or need assistance with a Living Will, Power of Attorney, Last Will & Testament, or other legal documents, contact an attorney. The Capital University Legal Clinic at (614) 236-6245, Legal Aid at (614) 224-8374, and ProSeniors (800) 488-6070 are also agencies you can turn to. Social Services staff at health care facilities may also be able to assist.
Check with your local senior citizens center or county agency on aging for additional resources, or if you have limited income. The Columbus Bar Association also operates a lawyer referral service if you don’t have an attorney.
Notary One is happy to provide mobile services when you are ready to execute your important documents. Call Roger at (614) 348-3305 to arrange an appointment.