If you have begun the process of writing a Will, why not take an extra step to protect your wishes? This simply means gathering two witness signatures and getting your Will notarized. While this can cost you some extra time and a small fee, it is the only way to guarantee that your Will is properly followed once your Estate reaches probate court.
Learning where to get a Will witnessed and notarized in your state is a straightforward process that can help you -- and your loved ones -- in the future. Read through the following guidelines to learn more about how to get your Will witnessed and notarized:
Why Do I Need to Get a Will Witnessed and Notarized?
A Will must be witnessed and notarized to guarantee its validity. Unfortunately, the nature of this document means that you will not be present when it is put into effect; therefore, you need to take the extra step when writing a Will to prevent the possibility of any future questions.
While some states don’t necessarily require your Will to be witnessed and/or notarized, this could cause difficulties down the road. If you fail to notarize your Will, it could be challenged in probate court. This often results in lengthy court proceedings as your loved ones attempt to prove the validity of your Will, and it could even cause the court to determine how your Estate is divided.
The best way to avoid these potential outcomes is to get your Will witnessed and notarized as soon as you write it. This is part of the process of making your Will legal -- and will provide you with peace of mind about your end of life wishes. To learn more about what makes a Will legal, be sure to read this outline.
How to Get a Will Witnessed and Notarized
The process of getting a Will witnessed and notarized is not as difficult as it may sound. After writing your Will, you will need two witness signatures. The witnesses should not be listed as beneficiaries in the Will or close relatives, as these factors could signal a conflict of interest in court. You can choose a trusted friend, colleague, or even your Estate Planning lawyer.
The most common way to notarize a Will is by adding a Self-Proving Affidavit. This document is where the witnesses sign, representing that you were of sound mind when creating the Will. You can either get the Affidavit notarized in your lawyer’s office or by searching for a notary public in your area. Notaries are often available at real estate offices, postal services, or banks. There are also mobile notaries that can come to you for a fee.
The exact requirements on where to get a Will witnessed and notarized will vary slightly depending on where you live. Keep reading to learn more about what to expect in your state.
Will Witnessing & Notarization Guidelines by State
Each state has different guidelines on where to get a Will witnessed and notarized. A quick Google search will help identify your state’s requirements. Though, here are five of the largest states to provide more context on what to expect:
In California a Will must be signed by two witnesses, who again cannot be listed as beneficiaries in the Will. California does not require the Will to be notarized or include a self-proving affidavit; although, it is generally still recommended to ensure there are no challenges in probate court.
Texas allows two types of Wills to be legally valid: a Holographic (or handwritten) Will and an Attested Will (which is typed and witnessed). Neither document needs to be notarized according to Texas law, but a Self-Proving Affidavit is recommended to save time in probate court.
Florida is another state that does not require notarization, though Self-Proving Affidavits are allowed and generally recommended. You do, however, need two witnesses to sign your Will in front of you and each other.
A notary is not required to create a Will in the state of New York -- but two witness signatures are. New York is another state that allows you to include a self-proving affidavit, which will need to be notarized.
Pennsylvania does not require witness signatures or a notary in order to make a legal Will, though the state does accept self-proving affidavits. While you may not be required to have your Will witnessed, someone may need to testify on your behalf in probate court to ensure its validity.
The most difficult part of writing a Will is often just thinking about it, after all it will demand some difficult answers about your end of life wishes. If you have already begun this process, why not take the extra step to prevent any challenges down the road? Learning where to get a Will witnessed and notarized is a simple way to safeguard your Estate Plan. While many states have relaxed guidelines on witnesses and notaries, this process can ultimately save your loved ones time and money spent in probate court.