WITNESS

INFORMATION

for Executing a Will

WILLS ARE NOT NOTARIZED IN CALIFORNIA

In California wills are note notarized but are rather witnessed.  Part of this requirement is that two witnesses need to be present together when the signer either 1) signs the documents, or 2) acknowledges that he or she signed the document.  Given that two independent witnesses were not present at our signing meeting, this requirement still needs to be fulfilled.  Please read below.  Remember: Without Witnesses, your will is not valid.

THE WITNESS REQUIREMENT

Two independent witnesses need to witness either 1) the signing of the will, or 2) the signer acknowledging they signed the will.

WHO CAN ACT AS AN INDEPENDENT WITNESS

  • Anyone who does not have a beneficial interest in the will or trust.  Obviously, a named beneficiary would be precluded from eligibility, but also any members of groups (e.g., “grandchildren).

  • If possible, choose a witness who could never have a beneficial interest, even though they might not have one now.  (e.g., distant relatives who are contingent beneficiaries).  In an abundance of caution, you may want to avoid the spouses of any of these parties as well.  Although the exclusion of potential beneficiaries is not legally required, it is good practice (but not as an alternative to having not getting the will witnessed at all).

  • Neighbors, co-workers, or friends (if not beneficiaries) make great witnesses.

WHAT DOES THE WITNESS NEED TO DO?

  • If you already signed the will (most likely), then you need to have both witnesses together at the same time.  You, as the signer need to point to your signature and acknowledge that that is your signature and that the document is your will.  The witnesses need to read their statement and sign (and date) where noted.

  • If you are signing in front of the witnesses, make sure both are in the same room together and see you in the act of signing.  Follow other procedures above.

  • Note that the witness statement is not dated since if the witnesses are witnessing an acknowledgement (and not the actual signing), such will likely be conducted on a later date.