Notarization Is No Substitute for Witnesses to a California Will

Unlike other states, under California law, there is no requirement that a will must be notarized in order to be valid. While many wills may be notarized regardless, the lack of notarization will not in and of itself provide grounds for a will contest. In some cases, however, a will may have been notarized under the mistaken belief that doing so overcomes the need for two disinterested witnesses to view the signing of the will. If this is the case, the will could be subject to attack. Here is why:

  1. Unless it is a holographic will, it must be witnessed by two adult, competent, and ideally disinterested witnesses in order to be valid.
  2. The signature of a notary public on a will does not take the place of a witness.
  3. A validly witnessed will should contain an attestation clause, which is lacking from the notary block.

Even in cases where there are two witnesses to a will, it does not automatically mean that the will cannot be challenged. An experienced attorney can assess the unique facts and circumstances surrounding the signing of the particular will in question in order to determine whether you may have grounds for a will contest. Our free guide, Winning the Inheritance Battle: The Ultimate Guide to California Trust and Probate Litigation, provides a helpful overview of the legal process for pursuing an action relating to a will. For a complimentary phone consultation, contact our office today by calling our toll-free number, (888) 443-6590.

Scott Grossman

Scott Grossman


The Grossman Law Firm, APC · 525 B Street, Suite 1500, San Diego, CA 92101 · (951) 523-8307