Motor Vehicle Title FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions About Montana Motor Vehicle Titles

How do you notarize a title...

…when the seller is deceased

As a notary public you cannot notarize a person’s signature unless that person personally appears to you.  People often offer a death certificate as proof that the named owner is no longer alive, but that is not sufficient for a notary to use as a basis for notarization.  If the person does not have authority from a court to act as Personal Representative, or Administrator/Executor for the estate, you will not be able to notarize the title on behalf of the deceased person.  You should refer the person to the county treasurer’s office or the Title & Registration Bureau for assistance.

…when the title is made out to a business

Once you have verified the identity, capacity, and authority of the person appearing before you, the person will print the name of the business just as it is shown on the document and then sign with his/her name, title, and the name of the business in the spaces provided. 

You will enter the name of the name of the business, the name of the person signing the title, and the person’s title.  For example:

[Signed before me by] Fred’s Plumbing, Inc., by Fred Smith, President.

See pages 19 – 20 of the Montana Notary Public Handbook  for more information.

…when a person has a Power of Attorney for the seller

In addition to identifying the person who is in your presence, you must also determine that the person appearing before you has been authorized to act for the named individual and that he or she is authorized to sign that particular document.   Generally speaking, you should ask to see the original, or a certified copy, of the Power of Attorney

Because a Power of Attorney automatically terminates on the death of the principal, you must determine before agreeing to notarize on the basis of a POA that the person who is named on the document being notarized is still alive. If the answer is no, you may not go forward with the notarization.

You will enter the name of the person who actually signed the document, the capacity in which it was signed, and, finally, the name of the person who was named in the document.  For example:

[Signed before me by] Mary Smith as Attorney-in-Fact for John Smith.

See pages 19 – 20 of the Montana Notary Public Handbook for more information.

…when a person is the Personal Representative for the seller’s estate

In addition to identifying the person who is in your presence, you must also determine that the person appearing before you has been authorized to act for the named individual and that he or she is authorized to sign that particular document.   Generally speaking, you should ask to see the original, or a certified copy, of the court document naming the person as Personal Representative, Administrator, or Executor.

You will enter the name of the person who actually signed the document, the capacity in which it was signed, and, finally, the name of the person who was named in the document.  For example:

[Signed before me by]  Mary Smith as Personal Representative for John Smith

See pages 19 – 20 of the Montana Notary Public Handbook for more information.

…when the seller’s name has changed

Name changes are not unusual; your ability to complete the notarization is dependent upon your ability to properly identify the person appearing before you as the person named in the document.  The fundamental requirement is that the person must print and sign his/her name just as it appears on the title.  And you have to identify them under that name.

If the person has a new ID in the new name, they would also have to produce some kind of appropriate documentation of the name change – think marriage license, divorce decree, or name change decree – some document that has both names on it.  If they still have an old ID that meets the requirements for satisfactory evidence (government issued, pictured, current or expired less than three years) you may use that as the ID. 

Caution!  On Montana motor vehicle titles all appearances of the seller’s name must match the name printed on the top of the title.  Do not use “f/k/a” or “a/k/a” and a different name or the title will not be accepted.

…when the seller’s name is not spelled correctly on a Montana motor vehicle title

As a notary, you cannot change or correct a misspelling on a motor vehicle title.  You should direct the person to the county treasurer’s office or the Title & Registration Bureau for assistance with this issue.

…when the seller has already signed the Montana motor vehicle title

You can have the person sign his/her name again in front of you in the space provided.  The signer should NOT cross out the first signature, but simply repeat the signature above or beside the one already on the document.  The seller should complete and MV100, Statement of Fact, explaining that he/she initially signed before appearing to the notary and then signed again in front of the notary.



What do you do when…

…the document has already been notarized for one of the owners

If a second notarial block is needed for subsequent signers, the notary may hand write a complete notarial block on the document, if there is room, usually in the lienholder section of the title.  If there is not enough room or if you prefer to use a loose certificate, you must use the loose certificate designed specifically for Montana titles Be sure to indicate on the title that the “Notarization for __________________ is attached.” And also note in your journal that you used a loose certificate.

Never use a stick-on pre-printed labels for Montana motor vehicle titles – they will be rejected by MVD.  

…the seller doesn’t print his/her name exactly as shown on the document

Montana motor vehicle titles clearly instruct the signer to print his/her name exactly as shown.  If the printed name is not the same as shown you should have the person line through the incorrect name, initial it and print his/her name again in the space provided.  The seller should complete and MV100, Statement of Fact, explaining that he/she initially printed his/her name incorrectly and then corrected it.

…there are two (or more) signers listed, but only one is present for notarization

You simply notarize the signature of the person appearing to you at that time.  When you enter the name of the person for whom you are performing the notarization, it is a good practice to add “(only)” after the name so that another person can’t insert the other owner’s name, making it appear that you witnessed more than one person’s signature.  Be sure to note in your journal that you only notarized for one of the listed owners.

…you make a mistake on a title

It happens.  When you make a mistake on a motor vehicle title, line through the incorrect information, initial it and enter the correct information.  Then you must complete an MV 100 – Statement of Fact, explaining what you did and that you corrected it “with no fraud intended.”

…there’s no notarial wording on the title

Most states (45 of them!) do not require a notarized signature on a title.  If your customer presents a title from one of these states, you should not attempt to add a notarial certificate on or to the title.  Below is a list of the states that do not require notarization of their titles.

   NON-NOTARY TITLE STATES

Alabama

Idaho

Missouri

South Dakota

Alaska

Illinois

Nebraska

Tennessee

Arkansas

Indiana

Nevada

Texas

California

Iowa

New Hampshire

Utah

Colorado

Kansas

New Jersey

Vermont

Connecticut

Maine

New Mexico

Virginia

Delaware

Maryland

New York

Washington

Dist. Of Columbia

Massachusetts

North Dakota

West Virginia

Florida

Michigan

Oregon

Wisconsin

Georgia

Minnesota

Rhode Island

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Hawaii

Mississippi

South Carolina

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Does the buyer have to be present when the title is notarized?

No.  Montana motor vehicle titles only require the seller’s signature be notarized.

Can you notarize a title that has a lien on it?

Sure!  The fact that there may or may not be a lien on a title has no bearing on your ability to notarize the owner’s signature.