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What Is a Certified Copy? Definition, Uses and Importance.

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A  certified copy of a will or any document refers to an original copy of the document that has been stamped and authenticated by some authorized person. 

Notaries can stamp and certify these copies but not always. That a copy is certified does not mean that the primary document is entirely valid (only the authenticated document is considered valid).  An example of certified documents or copies is birth certificates, death certificates, marriage and divorce certificates. 

When it comes to wills, the certified or probated copy which the executor has in his/her possession can be easily obtained from a country’s courthouse; where the will was registered. You don’t need to spend a fortune to obtain a certified copy.

Certification can be required by certain people in a lot of different situations, and this includes commercial and governmental sectors. With certification, the potentials of the document being stolen and damaged become minimal. 

Why is a Certified Copy important?

The main reason why having a certified copy is necessary is because it enhances the genuineness and originality of the documents. Doing this can prevent cases of fraud where people can easily make documents and certificates on a computer and make them look like true copies.

A certified copy of a will or a probate procedure is important because it may be required to fulfill governmental, commercial, or even court purposes. Administrative purposes are not left out either.  It also protects the documents and prevents the owner from giving up possession of them. 

In some English-speaking countries, the common law allows that a certified copy be used as an easy means of providing other copies of documents.

How is Certified Copy Structured?

Usually, an agency appoints a person or a group of persons to be in charge of signing the certified copies. This person is known as the “authorized person.”

This person who is authorized to sign these documents varies depending on the country you find yourself in. In some cases, the legislation can authorize a person who may be a court clerk, notary public, or a solicitor. However, this may not always be the situation. In other cases, countries like South Africa and the United Kingdom can authorize a post office staff to sign and certify the documents.

Certified Copy VS. Attested Copy

Even though certified copy and an attested copy are legal terms that are used interchangeably by most people, it doesn’t mean that they are not different from each other.  

A certified copy is an official document that is made for the public, for important purposes. It’s usually held by a court clerk and is signed by the official custodian.

Although some notaries are allowed to sign and certify copies, it doesn’t make them qualified enough to make certified copies that are meant for official purposes. 

An attested copy, on the other hand, means that another person will be given your documents to sign, print their name, and include their telephone numbers on every copy of a document you submit. 

An attested copy is more like a person is serving as your “witness”. By signing your document, the person is directly testifying that the submitted copy is the same as the original one. Anyone can sign an attestation document for you including a relative or a relative.

Lifespan Of Certified Copy

A certified copy of a document can last for up to 6 months or more as long as there is no expiry date written on it.

How is a Certified Copy Used?

People usually need a certified copy when it comes to obtaining loans, opening or closing a bank account. it’s also used in finalizing a court transaction or case and can be submitted to a foreign country to renew a business license. 

As soon as you have confirmed that the certified copy is the same as the original, you should complete it and submit it alongside a notarial certificate. This is to state that the copy is correct, complete, and fit for official uses.

Check out how you can get your inheritance cash early using a certified copy of inheritance and estates.

Synonyms for Certified Copy

Other terms for certified copy are:

  • Original copy
  • Authenticated copy
  • Approved copy

How to get a certified copy of a document

The process of getting a document mostly depends on the state laws. However, the steps below are common with most states:

  • The custodian of the document will ask you to certify it
  • The document will be handed to the notary who compares and confirms that the copy matches with the original. 
  • The notary then goes ahead to sign on the document to show that it’s accurate.
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