Should my Will be Notarized?

Your California will should NOT be notarized. If it is a formal will it needs to be witnessed by at least two witnesses.

Despite the fact that 60% of Americans don’t have a basic will, they are very useful documents!  In addition to dictating where your property is to go when you die, and nominating an executor to handle your estate, the will is where parents of minor children nominate guardians to care for their children. 

Some attorneys prefer to have wills witnessed by three persons just in case, but it’s not necessary. If one of the witnesses turns out to be an ‘interested’ witness (in other words, stands to benefit from the will), the will is still valid, but the witness will be presumed to have obtained his bequest by duress or oppression, and will be prevented from inheriting unless he can rebut that presumption, or unless there are two other non-interested witnesses.

California also accepts ‘holographic wills,’ documents that are not witnessed, but where the signature and all substantive provisions are in the testator’s handwriting. However, courts are suspicious of these holographic wills and subject them to strict scrutiny.  When it comes to wills, I suggest you hire an attorney to draft you a simple will, or use an online service. If you use an online service, PLEASE have a lawyer look at the will afterwards to make sure you completed it correctly!