Here at Trust & Will, we strive to answer as many questions about estate planning as possible. One question we notice coming up often is, “can you just write a Will and get it notarized?” If you’ve wondered about this yourself, today is your lucky day. In this guide, we will be answering this exact question and any other stipulations you’ll need to know relating to the answer. Be sure to read until the end, because we will be providing information that will help you feel empowered through the process of creating a Will and ensuring that it is valid.
Can I Write A Will On My Own?
The short answer here is that, yes, you can write a Will on your own. Whether you have an aversion to attorneys or are the DIY go-getter type, there are ways in which you can create your own Will. For instance, you could write your own Simple Will to hit the basics. In this type of Will, you would simply state who gets what, and name a guardian for any minor children if applicable. The objective of this type of Will is relatively straightforward and can typically be accomplished on your own.
However, we want to stress that although you can write your own Will, you’ll want to be very careful and intentional. Although you can perform the act of writing a Will, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will hold up in court later. In other words, you should be sure that your Will is legal and valid.
With that said, we’ll explain how to make a legal Will next.
How to Make a Legal Will
There are certain elements that must be included in a Will in order for it to be valid. It would be a huge disappointment to go through the efforts of creating your own Will, only to realize that it won’t hold up in court. (Or worse, your loved ones find out that it isn’t valid, after it’s too late.) This can lead to confusion and stress surrounding how your belongings should be distributed. It can also lead to delays for legal adjudication and increases in court fees.
To avoid these worst-case scenarios, be sure that you’ve incorporated all elements that should be reflected in a legal Will:
A clear title labeling the document as a “Last Will and Testament”
Your full legal name and address
A statement declaring that you are sound of mind and not under any duress or undue influence at the time of the writing of the Will
The full legal name of your appointed Executor
The full legal name of your appointed Guardian for any dependent children (in case you were the last surviving parent)
The full legal name of your beneficiaries, who are the individuals who will inherit your property upon your passing
A list of your assets and their designations, including clarifying descriptions to eliminate confusion
Your original signature and the date of your signature, which was performed in the presence of two witnesses
The original signatures and signature dates of two witnesses who can testify in court regarding your signature and your state of mind at the time of signing
For additional help, be sure to review our guide, “What Makes A Will Legal.” It provides further explanation regarding intent, mental capacity, and other common questions concerning the legality of a Will.
Does a Will Have to be Notarized?
Once you feel certain that you’ve created a legal Will, you may need to take the extra step of having your document notarized.
First, review state rules regarding estate plans. Some states may require that your Will has been notarized. In many cases, notarization is not required so long as the Will was properly created and witnessed. However, if it is required, then certainly you’ll want to have your document notarized.
Second, consider getting your Will notarized regardless of state rules. Doing so will allow you to add a self-proving affidavit to your Will. This essentially gets rid of the court’s need to examine whether or not your signature and witness signatures are valid. Notarization can help speed up and thus alleviate the probate process for your loved ones.
Where Can I Get My Will Notarized?
You can get your Will notarized anywhere notary services are made available. For instance, an attorney office can have legal documents notarized for you. However, if you’re writing your own Will, then that likely defeats your purpose.
Luckily, there are a wide array of options. Simply conduct a search for a Notary Public in your neighborhood. They are often available in locations such as banks, post offices, real estate offices, or even schools. You might even find a mobile notary service that can come to your home or office.
Finally, keep your eye out for the legal status regarding eNotary services. Several technology platforms offer digital notarization, accessible from anywhere in the nation. Unfortunately, however, few states will legally recognize a Will that has been notarized electronically. However, especially due to COVID, states are increasingly legalizing the acceptance of Wills that have been created and notarized digitally. This eliminates the need for paper documents or human contact.
Feeling curious? We lead the discussion on everything you’d want to know about e-Wills here.
Create Your Will Today
You may have started reading this guide with this question in your mind: “Can you just write a will and get it notarized?” Perhaps you feel that working with an attorney is cost-prohibitive. Maybe you are intimidated by the idea of a formalized process. Perhaps you simply don’t want to leave your house during these times, and that’s completely valid too.
Whatever your reasoning, you should be pleased to find out that you indeed can write your own Will. You might not even have to get it notarized depending on your state’s rules, although it is highly recommended.
However, when you learned about all of the elements that are required in order to create a legally valid Will, you may have felt a bit of uneasiness. After all, it is such a meaningful and significant document; of course you would want to make sure it would hold up in court. We don’t want you to feel discouraged.
Here, we have even better news! What if we were to tell you that there is a way to create your own Will from the comfort of your own home, but with some professional support that comes along with the reassurance that your final product will be valid? That it is easy and affordable to boot?
This is where we come in! At Trust & Will, we are passionate about helping everyone create an estate plan, minus the hassle, expense, and intimidation factors that are often associated with it. We are a technology-based platform that will guide you through simple quizzes and questionnaires to help you create your own Will, plus other estate planning documents you might need! Our framework is created and backed by estate planning experts so that you can have peace of mind that your documents are not just legal, they are effective. You’ll surely feel empowered throughout the process. Click here to find out how you could create your own Will in just a matter of minutes.
Is there a question here we didn’t answer? Reach out to us today or chat with a live member support representative!