A last will and testament (simply called will) is an important legal document explaining how you would like your property and assets, such as your car and home, distributed after your death. You probably know that setting up a will is a simple and smart way to ensure that all your wishes and needs are met at the end of your life. It also ensures that your wishes are fulfilled if you become incapacitated. Many people don’t require a complicated will with a lot of legalese. However, it is an incredibly important and valuable legal document for any person. You may know that estate planning with an attorney or law firm can be quite expensive, which is the reason many individuals choose to write a last will and testament on their own. One common question that often comes up is, “can you just write a will and get it notarized?”
If you have thought about this yourself, you will get all the answers. You will be happy to know that you don’t need to have a lawyer or attorney in order to create a basic will, and you can prepare a will yourself.
While you can create your own will as it is not complicated, you should prepare it correctly and then have it notarized, especially if you have minor children. Keep in mind that failure to notarize a last will and testament can lead to complications in probate court.
Also, remember that a will must meet your state’s specific legal requirements and should be notarized. Most US states require that witnesses to a will be disinterested. This means that they do not stand to inherit any assets under the terms and conditions of the will. In most states, you don’t need to notarize your own will for it to be valid and binding. However, you need two disinterested witnesses. Also, state laws and regulations tend to change over time. This is why you should ensure that you have the latest information when drafting your will.
Unlike other paper documents and forms, a will usually is not valid unless at least two witnesses (adults) observe the will-maker sign it. Also, the witnesses have to know that the legal document is intended to be that individual’s will, and they must sign the legal document themselves.
Notarization is a process where a notary – a person authorized by the US government to witness the signing of legal documents – confirms the identity of the individuals who sign them. If you have written your last will and testament properly following the relevant state laws and have the witnesses, you do not need to notarize it. When a court of law starts processing your will, it may call on your witnesses. However, if these witnesses moved or died, then having a notarized will can prove its validity, which is why you should look for the right notary services. And if you want, you may use a notary public to make your will self-proving using a self-proving affidavit.
You should know that over 1.25 billion documents, such as wills and affidavits, are notarized in the US each year.
You can write your own will without a lawyer. However, keep in mind that it needs to follow your state guidelines and laws to ensure that it goes into effect legally. For example, some states in the US require that a will be signed in front of two or three attesting witnesses or notarized. The good news is that you will find many software programs, tools, and will-writing kits to make this process simpler. Note that these do-it-yourself (DIY) options are ideal for a person with an extremely simple estate.
However, if you have a complicated or high-value estate or property, it is better to seek legal advice and guidance to meet your needs. One of the simplest ways to make sure that your last will and testament is correctly drafted but still minimize the cost and risk of writing the will yourself is to write the will yourself and then hire a competent lawyer to review the document and make recommendations.
For your will to be binding and legally valid, you have to follow a couple of important requirements:
Did you know that almost all US states now have statutes that authorize self-proving wills? Keep in mind that of the states that have statutes authorizing these self-proving wills, not all statutes are the same. This means that a will that is self-proving in one US state might not be a self-proving will in another.
For example, some states require the formal notarization of the signatures of the witnesses. On the other hand, some states now require the notarization of the signatures of the witnesses and testator.
We can define a self-proving affidavit as a notarized document signed by your witnesses, where witnesses swear:
The self-proving affidavit is also witnessed and signed by a notary public.
Is your will notarized? While it may be, it does not necessarily have to be. You should review state rules and laws regarding estate plans. For example, some states might require that your will be notarized. However, in most jurisdictions, notarization isn’t required as long as your will was properly drafted and witnessed.
In 2021, Louisiana was the only US state that required your will to be notarized. In contrast, if you live in any other US state, you do not have to notarize your will for it to be legally binding and valid.
So, why are wills written by lawyers or attorneys almost always notarized? You should know that it isn’t the will itself that’s notarized but instead the self-proving affidavit attached to your will. So, you can make the will “self-proving” by notarizing a self-proving affidavit.
In many instances, you can easily make your will self-proving by simply attaching notarized sworn statements from the witnesses. However, this step isn’t necessary in order to make your will legal. Rather, it helps your loved ones and family members save a few steps later on during the complex probate process.
Once you are certain that you have created a legally valid will, you may want to take the extra step of having your legal document notarized. You should consider having your will notarized regardless of state laws and rules. This is because doing so will enable you to add a self-proving affidavit to the will.
This helps eliminate the court’s need to examine and evaluate whether your signature and witness signatures are valid or not. Notarization will help expedite the probate process for your family and loved ones and protect your confidential relationship. Notarizing a will is also important as it prevents fraud by establishing its authenticity.
Notarizing your will could make a lot of difference to the executor in getting your will accepted and legally binding as genuine by the court system. And if someone wants to contest or challenge your will, notarization can also act as protection.
Where to get your will notarized? It is worth noting that you must find a reputable licensed notary. And notaries are required to proceed carefully when requested to notarize a will, which may be rendered invalid by the slightest variation from laws and stringent statutory rules. You can find notaries at various locations, such as law firms, banks, real estate offices, and other business organizations that process legal documents. Can you notarize a document for your family member? If you are considering notarizing for family, find the relevant information.
The best thing is that you can find mobile notaries as well as online notaries. And an online notary, such as PandaDoc, could be the most convenient and affordable option for you and your witnesses.
You should know that a will does not have to be notarized to be valid and binding; however, just writing a will all on your own and having it notarized might not be legally sufficient. Also, when it comes to a will, a notarized signature isn’t the same as a witnessed signature. Remember that only two US states, North Dakota and Colorado, currently allow testators to choose to have their own signatures notarized instead of witnessed.
When writing your own will, note that the most important parts of this document are the naming of an executor, a guardian for minors, and the beneficiaries for your property and assets.
You can get your will notarized at various places. Learn more about who can notarize documents. The most common locations to find a notary are as follows:
If you are signing your will in a lawyer’s office, the lawyer will likely provide a notary public.
If you can’t go to a notary public, you can also look for a mobile notary who will come to you. You will be pleased to know that remote online notarization may also be available in some US states.
You can use the PandaDoc Notary platform to notarize your will. It is simple and quick to get your will and other documents notarized.
Some simple and quick steps involved in getting a will notarized through PandaDoc Notary include:
You can take a picture of your will or upload a PDF file from your computer. You can also upload from a cloud storage service, such as Dropbox. No matter the time of day or location, or device, PandaDoc Notary has notaries ready to complete all your notary requests!
Now, you just have to confirm your identity with PandaDoc’s verification process. The platform uses identification verification technology in order to verify government-issued photograph IDs and passports.
You can connect to a live notary anytime and confirm your identity on a secure call or face-to-face on a webcam. Connect easily with a professional and licensed electronic notary public over live video in order to sign and notarize your will. The PandaDoc Notary agent will verify your identity and witness your signature, assisting you throughout the process. This ensures a smooth and hassle-free experience.
A will is a crucial document that specifies what you want to happen to your property and assets after you die. If you have ever worried about who will receive your wedding ring, or inherit your house, it may be the right time to create a will or update an existing one that is out of date.
Whether you’ve an estate planning attorney, create your will, or use an online service, the requirements and stipulations of a valid will apply. This is why you should ensure that you meet all of your jurisdiction’s requirements.
You may need a lawyer to prepare your will if you have substantial assets, have assets or property in multiple states, or have gotten divorced or remarried. These are just a few potentially complex and tricky situations.
An online notary platform, such as PandaDoc Notary, makes your will notarization simple and quick. To get started, you can register and request a notary appointment. Discover how simple it is to notarize any document, such as a will or real estate documents, with PandaDoc Notary.