'My bank won't notarize my will'

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"Do you notarize wills?"

Last Will and TestamentThat was the question asked of me when I answered the phone a couple of days ago.  I was thinking to myself, 'Of course I notarize wills. I'm a notary.'

Why not notarize a Last Will and Testament?


The person told me that his bank would not notarize his will.  Perhaps it had something to do with 'liability'.  At least that's the explanation the person gave me when I asked him why his bank wouldn't notarize it.

A Last Will and Testament is indeed a serious legal document.  But that is no reason for a notary to refuse to notarize it.  If the notary knows what to do, then there should not be a problem.  And this Last Will and Testament was prepared by the person's attorney.

The first thing I told the person was, 'Yes, I notarize wills.'  I told him that witnesses would be required, and that all of the parties would have to have valid identification.  I also told him that I would not be able to assist him in any way with the signing of the will, or give him any legal advice.  He understood.

When I arrived he had everything prepared.  He also had his two witnesses. Everything went smoothly.  He also had two Power of Attorney documents that he wanted notarized.

I can't speak for the bank as to why they would turn away one of their customers when it comes to notarizing a Last Will and Testament.  Perhaps it's the bank's policy.  All I can say is that, notarizing a Last Will and Testament is no different than notarizing any other document.  Make sure that the venue is correct, enter the notary commission expiration date, sign it and seal it.  The witnesses have to present for the signing at the time of the notarization -- not before, and not after. As to the contents of the Will -- as with any other document -- that is not the concern of the notary.

Good luck.



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Mott Marvin Kornicki
Waterway Realty, Realtors® • Broker • South East Florida • - Miami Beach, FL
Waterway Realtors, Notary Public 786-229-7999

Hi Leon:

I was asked to sign a Last Will & Testament just a few weeks ago. Naturally, I did- But I too was concerned about the contents and liability- everything seemed a bit fishy to me. Why didn't the law office that prepared it notarize it? A Will is a serious document and there could be liability. Bottom line is; we, as notaries are authenticating signatures, not the content.

Mott Marvin Kornicki,

Notary Public, State of Florida

Aug 22, 2008 11:48 PM #1
Michael Setunsky
Woodbridge, VA
Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA

Leon, your right. You're not notarizing the validity of the document, but the signatures on the document.

Aug 23, 2008 01:06 AM #2
Elizabeth Foust
Keller Williams Realty - Santa Rosa, CA

Hi Leon,

I'm glad that you brought up this subject.  We are taught in our CA notary classes that notarizing a will can sometimes invalidate it.  We can notarize a will but are taught that we should do it only under the direction of an attorney.  I have done some signings at attorneys' offices and only once was I asked to notarize the will.  Usually, the two witnesses sign it and it's done.

I have never found out why or how notarizing a will could invalidate it and would love to hear the answer if anyone out there knows.  One idea is that perhaps the client requesting notarization, has it notarized, but does not have the two required witnesses. 

Aug 26, 2008 10:15 AM #3
Ardel Richter
Arkansas Notary on Wheels - Mountain Home, AR

This is what Colorado (as well as many other states) has to say about notarizing wills:

What are the requirements for signing a will in Colorado?

To finalize your will in Colorado:

  • you must sign your will in front of two witnesses, and
  • your witnesses must sign your will.


Do I need to have my will notarized?

No, in Colorado, you do not need to notarize your will to make it legal.

However, Colorado allows you to make your will "self-proving" and you'll need to go to a notary if you want to do that. A self-proving will speeds up probate because the court can accept the will without contacting the witnesses who signed it.

To make your will self-proving you and your witnesses will go to the notary and sign an affidavit that proves who you are and that each of you knew you were signing the will.

Also, notarizing a 'holographic' will does indeed invalidate it.  A 'holographic will' is one that is completely handwritten and signed by the person making the Will.  Doesn't even require witnesses.  One such example given was a man who scratched his will on the fender of his overturned tractor---If I die in this mess, I leave everything to my wife.  The 'fender will' was probated successfully.   

Sep 12, 2008 04:43 PM #4
Leon Austin
Mobile Notary Services - Colorado Springs, CO
Colorado Springs Mobile Notary

Ardel, thanks for posting that. That's good information.


Sep 12, 2008 09:06 PM #5
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Colorado Springs Mobile Notary
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