The title is a bit misleading. A notary cannot "notarize" a will. A notary can only notarize a signature. Getting a notary to sign a will and add their seal to it does not make it "legal".
I was contacted by someone who wanted me to notarize a will that they had prepared using one of the popular software programs. They located me through ActiveRain. Although a Colorado notary can do it, I responded and suggested to the person that they see an attorney. There are a couple of reasons why:
A will is a very sensitive legal document. The laws regarding wills vary from state to state. It is best to entrust the preparation of it to an attorney.
Also, a notary risks being prosecuted for unauthorized practice of law if they give any kind of advice, or assist the person in any way. If the person asks, for example, "Does this look alright?" or, "Is there anything else I need to do or add?", it would be considered giving legal advice to answer those questions.
That said, a notary should notarize a signature on a will, only if there is proper notarial wording on the document, and clear instructions are given. Check your state notary laws. A notary cannot add any wording or additional documents. A notary cannot make a determination as to whether a jurat or acknowledgement should be used. That is unauthorized practice of law.
I agreed to notarize the signatures. These were my conditions:
- I can only notarize it if there is proper notarial wording on the document. I cannot add any wording or additional documentation to it.
- I am making no claims that notarizing it will make it legal or valid in a court of law.
- If there are witnesses required, they must be present at the time of the signing.
- I cannot answer any questions regarding the will. I am not an attorney, and may not give any kind of legal advice.
I am writing this as a Colorado notary. Any notary should check the notary laws of their state.
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