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Hotline Tip: Notarizing A Will

NNA Hotline Tips For Notaries

A client came in to my office requesting two notarizations: one, an amendment to an existing will that included “subscribed and sworn” wording for a jurat notarization; the other, a will that was to be dated and then signed and dated at the bottom. The second document was 2 ½ pages total, and there was no Notary language on the form, nor any area for any witness to sign. The signer was going to fill in the date of the will and sign at the bottom. After I described the different types of notarizations, the signer requested a jurat. What should I do in the future when this situation occurs, as this is a huge client for our firm? – N.C., Northridge, CA

You did the right thing with the amendment to the will as long as you used the proper California jurat wording. Wills are highly sensitive documents, the format of which is dictated by strict probate laws. Some states do not require wills to be notarized, while others allow it as one of several witnessing options. Usually, the will itself is not notarized, but accompanying affidavits to make the will self-proving signed by witnesses typically are.

The slightest deviation from probate laws can nullify a will. A Notary may notarize a will if the would-be testator instructs the Notary what type of notarial act they want the Notary to perform (acknowledgment or jurat), or if there is already notarial wording on the document. The Notary cannot advise the signer on how to proceed. Wills probated in California generally do not require notarization, though they must be witnessed; however, a California Notary may be asked to notarize a will that will be probated in another state. The NNA recommends that testators seeking to have their wills notarized consult an attorney to ensure that notarization is the right choice.

Kelle Clarke is a Contributing Editor with the National Notary Association.


Confronted with a tricky notarization? Unsure how to proceed? NNA members have unlimited access to our expertly trained NNA Hotline counselors to help you with all of your notarial questions. Call (888) 876-0827Monday through Friday, 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST; Saturday, 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST

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