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By: Scott Grossman on June 18th, 2018

Notarization is No Substitute for Witnesses to a California Will

Probate litigation takes place for an heir or beneficiary to receive their rightful inheritance. An heir or beneficiary files probate litigation against an executor, administrator, or a third party. Check out our Pillar Page below to find out if Probate Litigation suits you.

Guide to Probate Litigation

Under California law, there is no requirement that a will must be notarized 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 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 to determine whether you may have grounds for a will contest.

If you are ready to start your case, then please give us a call or fill out our Get Help Now form. A comprehensive overview of California Probate is available here. Should you have additional questions about trust litigation, you will find plenty of useful information in our Learning Center.