Many people go to a Notary Public to notarize documents that the notary did not draft. A common example may be a “Last Will and Testament” prepared from a “will kit” or downloaded from the internet by the testator. Louisiana law is explicit in setting forth the required elements for a notarial testament, which makes a notarial testament a fairly easy document to create–provided that the creator follows the law and includes specific required elements that are set forth in the Louisiana Civil Code.
In a recent case by the Court of Appeal, First Circuit, the court that reviews decisions from state courts in the greater Baton Rouge metropolitan area and surrounding parishes, a notarial testament was declared an absolute nullity (i.e., invalidated and without effect) due to the disclaimer the Notary stamped on the testament, which stated that the Notary had not prepared or read the document and was only attesting to the authenticity of the signatures. The trial court held that the testament was therefore absolutely null and without effect due to the disclaimer invalidating the declaration that the document was the testator’s will, and that the testator had signed in the presence of the notary and two witnesses. The First Circuit upheld the trial court’s decision.
It is not uncommon to see a Notary stamp a document he or she did not prepare, which can have devastating effects in the case of a notarial testament. A will that is otherwise valid and complies with mandatory requirements for a notarial testament will be without effect if it contains a disclaimer similar to the one in in the case of In the Matter of the Succession of Dale, No. 2018 CA 0405 (La. App. 1st Cir. 9/24/2018).
At Carleton Hebert Wittenbrink & Shoenfelt, LLC, our experienced attorneys can be trusted to craft a will that follows the wishes of the testator and comports with the law. Contact us to review your will or to create a will for you.