Recommendation for Notarized Wills

2023.05.03  [Wed]

Hello there!

We are Murata & Co., Tax Accounting Office, located in Miyakojima-ku, Osaka City, specializing in inheritance and international taxation.

This time, we would like to introduce notarized wills, which we often receive inquiries from our clients.

1. What is a Notarized Will?

A notarized will is a will that is notarized by a notary public on behalf of the testator, after the testator orally informs the notary public of the contents of the will.
Since a notary public is involved in the preparation of the will, it is highly reliable in terms of written contents, verification of testamentary capacity, and safekeeping. 

2. Advantages of Notarized Wills

Notarized wills do not require probate (a procedure to inform heirs of the existence of the will and its contents, and to clarify the contents of the will as of the date of probate, including the shape of the will, the state of additions and deletions, the date, and signatures, to prevent forgery or alteration of the will).
The notary public will take care of the original will, so there is no need to worry about someone hiding the will.
Since the will is prepared by a notary public, there is less chance of invalidation due to inadequate information in the will, compared to a self-written will or a secret will.
Since only the testator, the notary, and two witnesses who have no interest in the inheritance can know the contents of the will, it is possible to keep the contents of the will secret from the heirs.

3. How to Make a Notarized Will

In general, the process of making a notarized will is as follows

(1) The testator prepares a draft of the contents of the will.

(2) The testator contacts the notary public, informs the notary public of the draft prepared in (1), and confirms and examines the contents with the notary public. If the testator has difficulty in speaking, it is possible to use sign language or written communication. On the other hand, if the testator has dementia or other conditions that significantly impair his/her will, it may be difficult to create a will because it is not clear whether the will is the will of the testator.

(3) Prepare the necessary documents designated by the notary and deliver them to the notary public.

(4) Decide on two witnesses who will be present when the will is prepared. However, minors, the testator's presumed heirs and devisees, spouses and immediate family members, the notary's spouse, relatives within the fourth degree of kinship, clerks, and employees cannot be witnesses.

(5) The testator, two witnesses, and a notary go to the notary public after arranging a schedule (weekdays only).

(6) The testator, notary, and two witnesses sign and seal the will after confirming the contents of the will and that there are no errors.

(7) The testator receives an original copy of the notarized will and pays the notary's fee in cash.

In addition, the testator must personally visit the notary public to have the will drawn up, but if the testator is ill or otherwise unable to visit the notary public, for example, it is possible to request that the notary come to the testator's home or hospital (however, a separate travel fee and daily allowance must be paid).

4. Points to Note about Notarized Wills

(1) Residuary estates take precedence over notarized wills.

The intestate share is "a system to secure the minimum share for heirs other than brothers and sisters.
If the heirs are not allowed to receive their minimum share, they can claim the amount that has been violated.
In the case of a will that infringes on the residuary estate, the will itself will not be invalidated, but the heirs can demand payment of money for the portion of the estate that has been infringed.
As a result, the residuary estate takes precedence over the testator's estate, so it is important for the testator to take the residuary estate into consideration when drafting the will.

(2) Be careful about changes in the contents of the estate.

For example, if a bank deposit is to be included in a notarized will, and the bank no longer exists at the time of the testator's death due to a merger, etc., or if new property such as real estate was acquired between the creation of the notarized will and the testator's death, the relevant property is not included in the notarized will, and therefore, bequests (inheritance through a will) cannot be made. (a will is a will that allows an heir to inherit property) will not be possible.
Therefore, it is necessary to periodically check whether the notarized will covers the current property of the testator.

(3) Cost of preparation

When a notarized will is prepared, there are fees and other costs set by the notary public. This fee is likely to be high, especially if there are many heirs or inherited assets.

(4) Approval of two or more persons is required.

In order to create a notarized will, two or more witnesses must be secured. If you cannot find witnesses, the notary public can provide introductions, but you will need to pay a daily fee for this service.

In this article, we have introduced notarized wills among other types of wills. Murata General Accounting Office is always available for consultation and support for those who wish to prepare a notarized will. Please feel free to contact us through our contact form.

Please feel free to contact us.