“Does a will have to be notarized?” is a common question. With the rules for wills varying from state to state, it’s no wonder there’s a lot of uncertainty about this issue. Here is what you need to know.
Quick answer for “Does a will have to be notarized?”
The short answer is no, it’s not necessary to notarize a will. But as they say, the devil is in the details. So let’s get to them, shall we?
If you want to create a will that will be automatically accepted as authentic, then getting it notarized is the way to go. Additionally, any witnesses who sign the will and have their signatures notarized will not have to worry about being asked to testify in court at a later date to confirm that the will is authentic.
If you choose not to get a will notarized, the requirements for ensuring it will hold up in court vary from state to state. In Arizona, for example, a non-notarized will requires the signatures of two witnesses. An exception is made for holographic wills.
Expert Tip: Choose witnesses of legal age who are not heirs and have nothing to gain from the will. In fact, the majority of states specifically require that witnesses are not heirs under the will they witness. For obvious reasons, their testimony about its authenticity would be suspect if they stood to gain something from it.
Does a will have to be notarized if it’s from LegalZoom or LegalShield
LegalZoom and LegalShield are websites that offer DIY forms for everything from wills to contracts. Many people think that there are special rules for wills created via these sites, but in reality, all the usual rules apply.
Benefits of working with a preparer who is a notary
If you want experienced help that’s customized to your needs and ensures your will is considered authentic by the courts, plus, you won’t have to spend big bucks on legal fees, a will preparer who is also a notary is worth considering.
Unlike dealing with a do-it-yourself website such as LegalZoom or LegalShield, a notary who is certified to help you prepare your will can answer questions, personally make sure your will meets all legal requirements in your state, tell you where to file any required documents, and more.
Even though the answer to “Does a will have to be notarized?” is “No”, a notary is still preferred
It may be tempting to skip the extra expense and effort of getting a will notarized, but this one-time task can save the surviving family and heirs a lot of angst down the road. Additionally, getting your will notarized maximizes the odds of your wishes being carried out since there is fewer reasons for anyone to question its authenticity.
Remember, a legal document preparer who is also a notary can handle this task for you, and the cost is more affordable than you may think.