6th Apr 2017
Can’t I just get that from the clerk?
We have seen a rise lately in our clients receiving letters from businesses that specialize in obtaining “certified documents”. Usually these are received after a deed or corporate filing is made in the appropriate clerk’s office. The letters are mailed to the address of record for the title holder or business address. These letters claim you need their service to be sure your filing was done properly and they will obtain a certified copy of the filing for you for a substantial fee, usually between $50-$75.
These aren’t a scam as it appears they do the service they claim to, obtain a certified copy of the filing but they are misleading and prey on the fact most people don’t understand the nature of public records. When a document is filed with the register of deeds, Secretary of State, etc., it becomes a public document. This means any person can obtain a copy (having a copy doesn’t give you the title, just a copy). Fees for obtaining public records vary but even certified documents are half or less what the soliciting service charges. For example, one letter a client showed us recently offered to obtain a certified copy of their Articles of Organization for $75, the Secretary of State fee is $20 and you can fill out an order online in a matter of moments.
Most importantly, our clients often overlook the fact they already have a certified filing in their possession. If it is a corporate document, the certified filing is provided in the LLC notebook or for a corporation, in the corporate book. For estate planning clients, the recorded deed was provided with the original estate planning documents. You certainly do not need to pay for what you already have!
If you aren’t sure if a solicitation like this is something you need, be sure to contact our office before sending money for something you can do easily for yourself or already have in your possession.