Notarization Is No Substitute for Witnesses to a California Will

Under California law, there is no requirement that a will must be notarized in order to be valid. While many wills may be notarized, the lack of notarization will not 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. First of all, unless it is a holographic will, it must be witnessed by two adults. These witnesses must be competent and ideally disinterested witnesses in order to be valid.
  2. Furthermore, the signature of a notary public on a will does not take the place of a witness.
  3. Lastly, a valid 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 mean that it 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. It would be our pleasure to further assist you.

Attestation Clause (noun):

A clause that is typically appended to a Will, often just below the place of the testator’s signature. This clause is used to certify that the person signed the Will or other document in front of one or more witnesses, and that it was executed according to the terms laid out in the Will or other document.

Holographic Will (noun):

A handwritten Will that is signed and dated by the creator and Grantor of the Will.

 
Scott Grossman

Scott Grossman

Attorney

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