California Wills and Notarization

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California Wills and Notarization

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Being an estate planning attorney as well as a notary, I’ve found that many people do not understand the requirements to sign a will.  Many people find me by looking for a notary in the Vallejo/American Canyon/Napa area, and contact me because they’ve created a will (usually they wrote the will themselves using a form they found online or a will-making program) that they think needs to be notarized.

It’s a little peculiar to most people, but the person creating the will does not need to have his or her signature notarized.  For a California will to be valid, among other requirements, the person signing the will (known as the “Testator”) must sign it in the presence of two witnesses.  The witnesses must sign the will as having witnessed Testator sign (witnesses can do this at any time in the future during Testator’s lifetime).  The witnesses must understand that the document they’re signing is Testator’s will.

To avoid complications when the will is submitted to the probate court after the Testator dies, the witnesses should sign a statement swearing under penalty of perjury that they did in fact witness the signing of the will.  You should consult an attorney to make sure the will contains the proper language because there are very specific statements the witnesses must swear to, and if any are missing or worded incorrectly, it could tie things up years later in the probate court.

And that’s it for signatures!  No notarization necessary!

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