Does a will have to be notarized?


If you want to protect your legacy and ensure it lasts, you will have to get a will. Of course, making and executing a will is a major life decision. It is crucial to divide your properties and other assets into loved ones or specific beneficiaries to avoid confusion and conflict later on.

Once you draft your will, ensure it is notarized and witnessed. You don’t have to dive into a complicated process – it just takes a notary signature to ensure the legal status of your will. In fact, a notarized and witnessed will ensures no one contests the document after you pass away.

Let’s take a look at the basics of notarizing a will, the process of notarizing a will, the importance of notarizing a will, and where and how you can get your will notarized and witnessed:

What is a self-proving will? 

 A self-proving refers to a will with the attached affidavit. Remember, an affidavit works as a legal piece of document and includes a written statement with a sworn oath. When it comes to a self-proving will, you need two legit witnesses without a conviction record to sign your will.

Self proving affidavit

When it comes to self proving affidavit, an instrument like a will paired with an affidavit requires notarization. It means ensuring the document is signed in the presence of a certified notary public to get it validated. Most states have a probate court that accepts wills attached to an affidavit. It works as legal proof that the will is legal and valid.

Next, you need to negate the will’s requirements which involve witnesses testifying in a court of law that they witnessed the testator sign the will. Remember that witnesses testify in a court “after” the death of the testator. The idea is to ensure the probate process goes faster and smoothly and works in favor of the estate executor.

It also cuts out the need to find and propel witnesses to appear in court. And that’s because the testator understands that the attached affidavit is sufficient proof. On the other hand, some states don’t require the testator to notarize an affidavit. In fact, some states don’t allow the will holder to attach an affidavit.

In these cases, the will can still work as a sufficient legal instrument with two witnesses and a validated signature. When uncertainty creeps in – the testator usually reaches out to an experienced estate attorney to get legal advice and ensure the self-proving will work out as per the will holder’s last wishes.

Does a will have to be notarized?

Drafting, finalizing, and notarizing a will is not the end of the road. But without notarization, the court won’t consider your will a binding legal document. And most importantly, the notarized and witnessed will have to meet state-specific laws.

Most states require the visible signature of the testator and two individual signatures from disinterested parties. For instance, when someone dies, the will, first and foremost, should be verified, and witnesses have to testify in a court that they signed the document and witnessed the valid will holder’s signature.

Notarize wills online today

Connect to state-commissioned online notary within minutes.

Start free 14-day trial
Banner Rich Pricing Abstract

Valid will

It can get difficult to validate and verify the will if the witnesses have passed away or migrated to another country. And this, in turn, leads to more delays that take more time for the beneficiaries to get estate assets of the will. If the court is unable to locate two witnesses, an affidavit gets attached to the will that works as a self-proving affidavit.

In hindsight, notaries understand the vitality of notarizing a will. The burden of responsibility falls on the notary to ensure the signer understands the context of their signature and the signature is voluntary and signed with own free will. Once a public notary witnesses someone sign the will, he can stamp it with an official seal.

Why is it important to notarize a will?

A will (and testament) is essential to an estate plan. A will contains complete names of beneficiaries and conditions with which they can inherit the estate. Often, people forget that after their death, the will needs to be proven and validated in a probate court. In fact, a will gets proven in front of a court judge.

It is the main reason for the testator to ensure the will is valid and legal in the eyes of the court of law. But if the will is invalid and not notarized, it won’t get the proper legal status, and estate planning won’t matter. If the will is drafted carefully and witnessed, you may not need to notarize it.

The court sees your will instrument as valid if there is no state requirement to notarize the document. However, if you want to make your will self-proved and save your beneficiaries from the probate process, you will need to notarize your will.

Contrary to misguided perception, notarizing a will does not cost a lot of money. In fact, notarizing is fairly inexpensive and, on average, costs no more than $15. After your death, you count on your last will to benefit your beneficiaries without conflict and disagreement.

But sometimes, a will runs into invalidation and legality issues. It makes all the more reason to ensure your will is verified and signed by the witnesses. And witnesses should be able to come to a probate court to confirm their signatures and affirm they saw the testator sign the will in question.

Where to get a will witnessed and notarized?

As a will holder, understand that you have several options to get your will notarized. If you’re looking for in-person notaries, you can find them in accountancy practices, shipping facilities, and credit unions. You can also find in-person public notaries in banks, AAA stores, courthouses, law firms, car dealerships, public libraries, realty agencies, city clerk’s offices, and police departments.

Testators can also find mobile notaries who can come to your location to notarize your will. The best option for testators is to opt for a remote online notarization approach. In fact, finding an online notary agent on a platform like PandaDoc Notary is more accessible, simpler, and efficient than other options.

Online notary agents provide notarial services through video calls. And the good news is that most states allow online notaries to render notarial services and communicate notarization details through video calls.

How to notarize a will?

In a standard notarization of a will, you can follow these steps:

  • Schedule an appointment
  • Compile and keep relevant documents to will with you
  • Find a suitable notary public
  • Choose two witnesses and ensure they are reliable or passable under the law.
  • Communicate with witnesses and attend the scheduled appointment

If you don’t want to get stuck in a long line and avoid this hassle altogether, opt for remote online notarization on PandaDoc Notary. On this platform, testators find the notarizing process simple and quick.  

Notarizing with PandaDoc Notary

You can count on PandaDoc Notary to get an online notary agent and get help compiling legal documents for notarization. PandaDoc Notary’s notarization service is multi-layered and requires online users to follow simple steps:

  1. Go to the PandaDoc Notary site on your web browser to sign up.
  2. After the sign-up – log in and schedule an appointment.
  3. Get connected to an available online notary agent.
  4. Upload your drafted will and make sure to include your proper email address.
  5. Let the online notary agent validate and verify your ID and witness your signature. An online notary agent will guide you throughout the notarization process.

Final thoughts

The need to have your will notarized and witnessed will always be there – and it just takes initiation to get through the process. In any case, before you finalize your will, get in touch with a lawyer to review details and confirm the legality of your will.

A lawyer will also help you explore different options while drafting and finalizing your will. At its core, a will should tie together with your last wishes and distribute your estate to your stated beneficiaries. Remember that each state has different procedures and requirements when it comes to drafting and finalizing a will. So, the need to notarize a will comes down to your state law.

Most states don’t mandate will holders to notarize the document. Instead, the state laws focus on ensuring the fundamentals of a will are in place. And that means ensuring the will is signed and witnessed by two individuals. In some states, if you attach an affidavit with your will, you may have to notarize both documents.  

Get your will notarized online with PandaDoc Notary

Online PandaDoc Notary, you can notarize documents online without having to deal with a traditional headache. Remote online notarization can validate and notarize documents like the usual in-person approach. Using the PandaDoc Notary platform, you can find an online notary agent in an instant and notarize documents in no time. PandaDoc Notary platform also comes with notarization service features that allow you to notarize documents with the best user and signer experience.

Notarize your will through the PandaDoc Notary platform today!


What are the three conditions to make a will valid?

Here are the three main conditions that make a will valid:

  1. The individual drafting the will or the testator should be of sound mind and at least 18 years old.
  2. The drafted will should be in writing and signed by the will holder or testator.
  3. The will needs to be notarized.

For starters, the will should be in writing rather than communicated verbally. The document should also have the signature of the testator and two witnesses. Once the will is notarized and meets specific conditions, it becomes legal in a court of law.

What makes a will null and void?

Several elements can make a will void and unacceptable. For instance, a valid should contain all the relevant elements. But if the will does not have the testator’s signature or witnesses, it is bound to be annulled. Often, the testator’s thumb impression makes the will valid.  

Does a will have to be registered?

If there’s a drafted will, don’t worry about states requiring the testators to register their will and last testament. But some states and online entities give the will holder the option to register basic details of their will like full name and address. Some counties even allow testators to keep the will in a probate court.