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Hotline Tip: Notarizing A Will

New Hotline Resized 3A 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.

Hotline answers are based on the laws in the state where the question originated and may not reflect the laws of other states. If in doubt, always refer to your own state statutes. – The Editors

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 1-888-876-0827, Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. PST; Saturday, 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST.

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

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Joyce Wittal

09 Jun 2015

Actually annoying that I am on NNA website or go from email sent, and this form needs to filled out BEFORE I can see information requested

National Notary Association

10 Jun 2015

Hi Joyce, We've had some people report a bug with this week's stories where when they clicked on certain articles, the comments section is blocking the article text. This is an error and we apologize. Our tech people are working on this and we apologize for any inconvenience to you.

19 Aug 2020

When completing a Jurat or Acknowledgement for a Will that has a witness signature, does the witness name need to be included with the testator and also sign the journal?

National NotaryAssociation

20 Aug 2020

Hello. Because wills are complex legal documents, Notaries should not notarize a will unless the Notary is provided with clear, authoritative instructions. Please see here for more information:

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