So often we see Wills (“Last Will and Testament”) that have defective notary blocks.
While there are several different types of defects, some of the more common include:
- Failing to notarize the witnesses’ signatures (in other words, only the testator’s signature is notarized), or
- Failing to specify whether the people whose signatures are being notarized are personally known to the notary or whether they produced some type of identification.
If you are going to have your Florida Will notarized (which we recommend you do), or if you are a notary and you are notarizing a Florida Will, it is critical that the notary block be correct.
Because the ramifications of improperly notarizing a Will can be significant and costly.
Do You Have to Notarize Your Will?
Before we get further into today’s discussion, let’s first address whether you have to have your signature notarized in order for your Will to be valid in Florida.
The short answer is no.
To be valid, a Will must comply with the law’s requirements paraphrased below:
- The Will must be in writing
- The testator’s signature must appear at the end of the Will
- There must be 2 witnesses to the Will
- The witnesses must sign their names in the presence of the testator and each other
As you can see, technically, the statutory requirements do not require that the signatures be notarized.
Will Signatures Should Be Notarized
If you are making a Will, you should have your signature notarized.
Because it is best practice to do so.
Wills that are notarized or require notarization of the testator’s and witness’ signatures are called “self-proving” Wills.
Having a self-proving Will saves valuable time and money during probate.
The affidavit in a self-proving adjures that the testator signed the Will in the presence of 2 witnesses and that the witnesses signed the Will in the presence of the testator and each other. This affidavit shortens the probate process because it verifies that the document is indeed the testator’s Last Will and Testament. It also saves time and money because with a self-proving Will, the attesting witnesses need not come into court and personally testify to their signing of the Will.
In short, the affidavit is “proof” that the Will was executed correctly.
Which brings us back to our point: if your Will is notarized (and it should be), it is imperative that it be done correctly.
Proper Notarization of Signatures
Proper notarization of a Will in Florida requires, among other things:
- Making sure that the notary block specifies that the testator’s signature and that of all witnesses (2 or possibly even 3) are being notarized,
- That it identifies whether the signors are personally known to the notary or whether they produced identification,
- If they produced identification, that it specifies the type of identification produced by each signor,
- Make sure that all signatures are indeed notarized.
Notarization of documents may seem like a simple thing that anyone who has a notary stamp can do.
But keep in mind that any document which requires notarized signatures is an important one. And that the failure of the jurat in any way may very well cause the entire document to fail as a legally sufficient document —costing others time and money.
So if you need to have a Will notarized, take the time to consult with an experienced estate and probate lawyer who practices in Florida. And if you are notarizing a document, please take the time to do it properly.
Protecting Your Family is Just a Phone Call Away.
Don’t leave planning for your future and that of your loved ones to chance. All it takes is one phone call to the Law Offices of Samantha J. Fitzgerald to ensure that your wishes will be followed, and your loved ones taken care of when you are gone. We expertly guide individuals through the complex probate process, and capably handle all aspects of the creation, administration, and settlement of trusts as well. When you work with the estate planning attorneys at the Law Offices of Samantha J. Fitzgerald, you get more than just an estate plan: you get peace of mind. Call us at 954-580-3690 or email us at: [email protected] today.