I got a call to go to a neighbors home. She said we just live a few blocks from you. She stated, my mother needs to sign a Will. She is not well so we will need to get this done ASAP. I tell her I understand. I ask her, does your mother have current ID and is she mentally coherent? She tells me yes on all counts. I tell her great, but I caution her that although we as California notaries are not prohibited from notarizing a Will. We need to make you aware that without proper wording (which only an attorney would know or an line service like Legal Zoom could prepare) you could ultimately do your family members more harm and dis-service than good. Bottom line — a judge could throw it out if the words are not up to snuff. She says that it was reviewed by an attorney and she said the he had given it the okay! I said, ‘ok, well great’. I then ask her, when, where and what time would you like me there? We set it for the following day.
I arrived at our scheduled time and good god the house is an utter mess, and the smell of impending death was clinging in the air. It was horrible. But, they needed me and it is after all what we do. I followed the daughter to the kitchen area where the mother (our signer) was seated. She was alert and coherent. I was offered a seat and sat down. That’s where the problems began.
I ask for her ID and the daughter hands it to me and you guessed it — it is expired. I tell the mother we have a little problem I need current ID. The daughter speaks up and says “oh, I thought it was current” I’m thinking “Yeah right, sure you did”, I ask the mother did she have any other government ID such as a passport, etc.? She says no. So, now I tell them that we can use 2 credible witness but they cannot be a party to the transaction or stand to gain any financial interest in this particular transaction . So the daughter gets on the phone and begins calling. I ask to see the document (the Will) and the daughter hands it to me. And I cant believe what I am looking at! It is a handwritten Will on a single yellow sheet of legal paper written or (I should say scrawled) with different colored inks and cross outs. It was a MESS! A hot mess!
I looked at the daughter in bewilderment and I am at this point a little cross to say the least. I ask her did she remember our conversation the previous day? She said yes, and I go on to re-cap our conversation. She tells me that she is sorry but she thought her mother had current ID and that their attorney HAD actually looked at her Will. I couldn’t help myself at this point and exclaimed…”Are you serious and attorney signed off on this?”. She said, “yes” and I let it go. Because what was the point in arguing with her. She was having it with the mother being ill, now the ID problems and obtaining witnesses at this late date. So I told her that once she got everything in order I would happily come back.
Surprisingly, the mothered offered me my fee, but I kindly refused. It was more than obvious that they were struggling and after all they were my neighbors!
They never called me back….and I never expected that they would!
Until the next adventure…be safe!