Does a Will Need to be Notarized?


As of this writing, the only state in the United States that requires a will to be notarized in order for it to be valid is Louisiana.

But just because notarizing your will isn’t required doesn’t mean there aren’t any benefits.

Self-Proving Affidavit

Most states recognize something called a Self-Proving Affidavit, which is a short form attached to a will. A Self-Proving Affidavit is a sworn statement by the testator (the person creating the will), their witnesses, and a notary that affirms that the testator acknowledged the document as his/her Last Will & Testament and that the testator and witnesses signed the will in each other’s presence.

Why is it beneficial to have a Self-Proving Affidavit?

Without a Self-Proving Affidavit, most states require that a will be “proved” by a probate court. The process of proving a will is time consuming and it can be expensive, as it requires the Executor to track down the witnesses who signed the will and have them testify, either in person or by a sworn written statement, in front of a probate court. It can be difficult to locate the witnesses, and in some cases even impossible if a witness predeceased the testator.

Taking the extra step of creating a Self-Proving Affidavit for a will can save time, money and a lot of headaches when a will goes before the probate court.

Exceptions

Not every state allows for a will to be self-proving. Washington, D.C. and Ohio both do not allow for this option, so including a self-proving affidavit will not provide any benefit.

In other states, like California, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland and Nevada, a will does not require a separate affidavit in order to be self-proving. In these states, a will is self-proving as long as it follows the states’ execution requirements (it is signed and witnessed appropriately).

Last Updated: April 4, 2020

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