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Does my will need to be notarized I live in California?

Salinas, CA |

I wanted to know if my will needed to be notarized.

Attorney Answers 4


  1. It needs to be signed by two witnesses that are not beneficiaries to the will. It does not "need" to be notarized.


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

    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. I'd 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!


  3. No, notarization is not a requirement for a valid will. You do need at least 2 witnesses to sign it. These witnesses must be "disinterested", which means they are not only not beneficiaries, but also not named executor. Basically, you want two people who are not related to you and whose names do not appear in the document.

    When they witness the will, you must sign it in front of them, declaring that it is your will. They then will each sign as witnesses in front of each other while you are still present.

    This answer, and any other answer on this website, does not constitute legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. You should seek the help of a local attorney to fully address your specific questions and concerns.


  4. I concur with the other attorneys that notarization is not required for a will in California, but the signature of two disinterested witnesses is required. Consult a local attorney to make sure the will is executed properly. If it is not executed properly it will be invalid.

    Any individual seeking legal advice for their own situation should retain their own legal counsel as this response provides information that is general in nature and not specific to any person's unique situation. Circular 230 Disclaimer - Advice given in this response cannot be used to eliminate penalties with the IRS or any other governmental agency.

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