Can a Will be notarized instead of witnessed?


The last will and testament is something that people might spend weeks, months, and even years preparing. They want to ensure that everything is so that the probate process goes smoothly without any issues for their family members.

While writing a will is critical and consumes most of your time, you need to get a notarization for the document to be legally binding. Most importantly, you must sign it in front of at least two witnesses for the will to be a legal document.

Your will is an essential legal document that tells how to divide your assets and other property among your loved ones. It also tells about the guardianship of your minor children after your death.

After you pass away, you can’t confirm or deny whether the will is true. And that is where your witnesses come into play. The two witnesses will watch you sign the document and then testify in the probate court that the document is genuine.

Some people have a question: Can a will be notarized instead of witnessed? If not, how many witnesses do they need? Let’s learn more about the notarization of will in this article.

Notarize Wills online for your business

Connect your signers with an online notary within minutes

Start free 14-day trial
Banner Rich Pricing Abstract

How does witnessing a Will work?

The process of witnessing a will is quite simple. Here is what the process entails:

Step 1 – Signing the document

The first step is where you sign and date your will in front of two witnesses. These witnesses sign the document as well to make it a valid will.

Step 2 – Proceedings in the Probate Court

After your death, the willmaker/executor or your loved ones will find the document and submit it to a probate court. The court will call the witnesses to testify the document is authentic.

Each witness would have to confirm that you’re signing the form, you were of sound mind and in the right mental capacity when signing, and didn’t have any pressure when signing the will.

Step 3 – Execution of the Will

After everything is fine, the willmaker/executor will take care of all the wishers on your behalf. It will be the responsibility of the willmaker/executor to distribute the assets according to the document.

How does notarizing a Will work?

The main reason for notarizing a will is to prevent fraud or identity theft. A willmaker might also add other legal documents, such as a self-proving affidavit, to boost the document’s credibility.

Notarizing also adds an extra layer of protection so no one can forge your signature and change your own free will. You will need to get a notary public who has the authority of the state to perform these actions.

People have a question: Can you just write a will and get it notarized? While you can write a will on your own without any lawyer, it must comply with state laws.

Additionally, you also need witness signatures on the document along with some documents to make your will legally valid. Generally, the notary public will meet you to confirm your ID and watch you sign the documents in person.

Who can witness a Will?

It is important to note that not all legal adults can witness your last will. There are a few basic requirements for the witness that you have to follow according to the state laws.

Also, the people you choose should be disinterested witnesses. These witnesses must not be getting any benefit such as money or property from your will or shouldn’t have any relationship with you.

You can choose anyone for the witness signatures if the witness meets the above requirement. Examples of such people are:

  • Close friends
  • Neighbor
  • Lawyer
  • Colleague

Who can notarize a Will?

Generally, people can get their will notarized by including a self-proving affidavit. This document will tell that you were of sound mind when writing and signing the will in the presence of witnesses.

Many people can notarize your self-proving affidavits, such as real estate offices, office supply stores, and other institutions. The precise guidelines for notarizing and witnessing your will depends on state law.

Can a Will be notarized instead of witnessed? 

The answer to this question depends on where you’re living. Most states don’t let you use witness signatures as an alternative for a notary.

Only two states, North Dakota and California, allow the residents to get their wills notarized instead of witnessed. Other than that, most states require you to have a notary along with witness signatures to consider the wills as legally binding.

Why do you need to get a Will witnessed and notarized?

 A will’s validity depends on the witnessing and notarizing. Since the deceased person won’t be available to put it into effect, you have to take the extra step to prevent fraud or issues for your loved ones. The will makers need to keep a few things in mind to ensure everything about their estate planning goes according to their wishes.

Notarizing the will means a person can challenge it in probate court. As a result, your beneficiaries would have to go through long and lengthy court proceedings. It also means that the division of your estate might not go the way you have planned.

Therefore, the optimal solution for this problem is to notarize your documents as soon as you’re done writing the will. This will give your family members a proper estate plan and save time dividing the assets.

Where to get a Will notarized?

Additionally, there is also an option for notarizing wills through banks. You can also go to a lawyer’s office to notarize your will.

The courthouses and the town or county clerk’s office can also assist you in notarizing the documents. Moreover, the photocopy shops or shipping stores also have a public notary to help you.

However, in the past few years, most people have turned to online notary platforms to notarize their last wills. It is a simple, quick, and easy process that allows you to notarize your documents while complying with the state’s laws.

Notarize a Will online with PandaDoc Notary

We hope you have a clear idea about notarizing the will for your loved ones. It will prove that your will is valid and will make the probate process simple and straightforward. So, where can you get your will notarized?

Well, the answer is right here for you. The online PandaDoc notary platform makes it easy to notarize all your important documents. You can follow the simple process and get the documents notarized in no time.


What are the requirements for a will to be valid?

There are some conditions that you have to follow to make the deal valid:

  • The will maker/testator should be 18 years old and of sound mind
  • It should be in writing, and the will should be signed in the presence of a minimum of two witnesses. The witnesses would also have to sign the document.
  • A public notary needs to notarize the will.

A handwritten will is legal as long as it meets all the legal requirements (witnessed or notarized). It won’t be counted as a holographic will, a handwritten one that hasn’t been witnessed or notarized.

Who cannot be a witness to a will?

Any person beneficiary of your estate planning shouldn’t be in your will to avoid a conflict of interest. It includes you:

  • Immediate relatives (children and grandchildren)
  • Spouse or partner
  • Guardian and/or execution
  • Minor (Below the age of 18)
  • Elderly people that might pass away before you