Notarizing WillMaker Documents

Having trouble notarizing your WillMaker documents? This information might help.

Several WillMaker documents require notarization to make them legal. To get your document notarized, take your printed document to a notary (or have them come to you). The notary will check your ID, watch you sign, and then they will "notarize" your signature.

For the notarization, the notary will sign a declaration that they checked your identity and then stamp the document with their personal seal. The notary will know if any other information is needed (like the date their notary license expires). Sometimes the document includes the notary language, and other times, the notary attaches a separate certificate.

Transfer-on-Death Deeds, Self-Proving Affidavits, and Some Health Care Directives

WillMaker prints these documents with the required notary language -- either because the statutory version of the document includes specific notary language (health care directives and self-proving affidavits) or because recording norms require that the notary language be a part of the document (transfer on death deeds).

Sometimes notaries don't want to use the language included on the form, usually because they prefer using their own stamped language or certificates.

If this happens on a self-proving affidavit or health care directive, the notary can cross out the printed language and attach their own form. But make sure this doesn't confuse the pagination -- the attached certificate's pagination can be separate from the document's pagination. For example, if the printed notary language is on Page 3 of 3, keep all three pages together and attach the notary certificate as a fourth page as Page 1 of 1.

OR, you can try another notary who will use the printed language -- remember to consider travel and remote notaries. Before you go through a lot of trouble to meet up with the new notary, explain the issue on the phone to make sure it won't happen again. See below for tips on finding and connecting with a notary.

Living Trusts and Financial Powers of Attorney

WillMaker does not provide notary certificates for its powers of attorney and living trust. It used to -- but over the years, we consistently heard from WillMaker users that local notary publics often prefer to use their own forms. Attaching a notary certificate when there is already notary language on the form creates confusion for both the customer and the notary.

To avoid this problem, WillMaker now has notaries attach their own notary certificates to the living trust or power of attorney rather than printing the notary language on the form. It makes a lot of sense to do it this way, considering that notary certificates are the domain of notaries--not lawyers--and local notaries should know best what rules they must follow.

Unfortunately, some notaries will balk at using their own form -- either because they don't have one or because they think the document should include the notary language. Legally, there is no problem with attaching a separate notary certificate -- you can look up your state's requirements, which typically say something like "a certificate shall be part of, or securely attached to, the record…"

If you have this trouble with your notary, you can either 1) try to convince them that it's legal to attach a separate certificate or 2) work with a different notary.

Finding and Contacting a Notary Public

Finding a notary should not be a problem. You can search for one online or ask a friend or community listserv for recommendations. Most mailbox stores (like UPS stores) and many office supply stores also have notaries on-site. If you cannot, or do not want to, go to a notary yourself, you may be able to find a mobile notary who will come to you. Conveniently, many states now also allow remote notarization for some documents.

Call the notary before you go. On that call:

  • Tell the notary what kind of certificate you need--an acknowledgment (or a jurat), as indicated in your form's signing instructions.
  • For living trusts and powers of attorney, confirm that the notary has "loose" notary certificates to attach to your document.
  • Inquire about remote or mobile notary services, if desired.
  • Ask how much the notary costs and what kind of identification you should bring.