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Notarizing Wills Not Prepared by an Attorney

posted May 29, 2016, 3:13 PM by AG Pro Serve Intl.

Anyone can create a will either by requesting the services of an attorney or by using a software.

If someone uses a software or buy a form, can they get the signature on the will notarized?

Yes, Notaries can notarize wills that were not prepared by lawyers as long as they meet the notarization requirements.

  1. The person who will sign the document must be present and be mentally competent.
  2. The notary must know the document signer personally or the signer must present acceptable identification.
  3. The document must contain a jurat or the document signer must direct the notary to provide a jurat.

Other notes from the FL Governor’s Manual for Notaries:

Making a will self-proving shortens and simplifies the steps of probate. Section 732.503, Florida Statutes, prescribes the method by which a will (or an addendum to an existing will, known as a codicil) may be self-proved. The process involves
the testator and witnesses taking an oath and signing an affidavit stating that they signed the will in the presence of each other. The notary is responsible for administering an oath to the testator and the witnesses, and for completing the jurat.

Caution: 

Notaries should exercise caution when asked to notarize a signature on a will because it can result in an improper notarization with legal consequences as with any other document. However, this especially applies for “home-made will” where the person may not have sought appropriate legal advice.

So, unless you are a licensed attorney, you, notary, may not give legal advice about the contents of the will or the proper method of executing the document. The notary also is not responsible, nor required, to make the will self-proving but may add the affidavit and notarial certificate above if requested by the testator. However, you may not explain the purpose or effect of the self-proving process.

Witnesses
The notary is not responsible for and does not have to provide two witnesses for the execution of a self-proving will, or any other document. The signer must provide his or her own or request the notary to do so.

The notary may not serve as one of the witnesses because the witnesses’ signatures will be notarized on a self-proving will. Therefore, the notary’s spouse, son, daughter, mother, or father cannot serve as witnesses either.
The above affidavit is the form prescribed in §732.503, Florida Statutes.

Sample:

STATE OF FLORIDA
COUNTY OF __________

We, _________, __________, and _________, the testator
and the witnesses, respectively, whose names are signed to the attached or foregoing instrument, having been sworn, declared to the undersigned officer that the testator, in the presence of witnesses, signed the instrument as his last will
(codicil), that he (signed)(directed another to sign for him), and that each of the witnesses, in the presence of the testator and in the presence of each other, signed the will as a witness.
Testator Signature
Witness Signature
Witness Signature

Subscribed and sworn to before me by _______, the testator* who is personally known to me or who has produced (type of identification) as identification, and by ________, a witness who is personally known to me or who has produced (type of identification) , and by _________, a witness who is personally known to me or who has produced (type of identification) as identification, on _________, 20___.

(SEAL)

Notary Signature
PRINT, TYPE OR STAMP NAME OF NOTARY
My commission expires: ______________________________.

*The words “the witness” appear in the statute, but were apparently
inserted by error during the bill drafting process. Therefore, we have
omitted them from this form

FL Governor’s Manual for Notaries: May I notarize a will that has not been prepared by an attorney? What does it mean to make a will “self-proving”? p. 60 

by Alessandra Jackson

AG Pro Serve Intl.

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