US Senate 2943


State: United States
Signed: December 23, 2016

Effective: December 23, 2016
Chapter: Public Law No. 114-328


Requires military testamentary instruments, such as a last will, to be notarized and specifies the individuals authorized to notarize them; and also extends the authority to perform notarial acts to additional individuals.


Amends Sections 1044(a) and 1044(d) of Title 10 of the United States Code.

  1. Requires a military testamentary instrument to be notarized, as contrasted with simply being signed in the presence of a military legal assistance counsel acting as a presiding attorney as before.
  2. Authorizes the following persons to notarize a military testamentary instrument: (a) a military legal assistance counsel; (b) a person who is authorized to act as a Notary under 10 USC 1044a who is not an attorney and is supervised by a military legal assistance counsel; or a state-licensed Notary employed by a military department or the Coast Guard who is supervised by a military legal assistance counsel.
  3. Extends federal Notary powers to civilian paralegals working within military legal assistance offices.

U.S. S 2943, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 authorizes appropriations and sets forth policies regarding the military activities of the Department of Defense, military construction, and the national security programs of the Department of Energy. In this massive legislation, provisions related to Notaries and notarization are amended. The first is to expand the individuals authorized under federal law to perform notarial acts. S 2943 now allows civilian paralegals working within military legal assistance offices to perform notarial acts. The authorization to perform notarial acts given to these individuals becomes apparent when considering the second change: S 2943 requires military testamentary instruments to be notarized and civilian paralegals working within military legal assistance offices are allowed to notarize these documents.

A military testamentary instrument is "an instrument that is prepared with testamentary intent" – that is, the last will a military member. For military personnel, creating a will presents a couple of unique challenges. Constant relocation to different stations on a regular basis makes estate planning hard on everyone, military member and attorney. In addition, due to the short notice and deployment time for troops, military lawyers must draft wills quickly. The provisions of S 2943 are designed to help alleviate these challenges.

Read Senate 2943 (see Section 523).