Can a Person Write Their Own Will & Then Have It Notarized?

By Teo Spengler

In this age of technology, writing out a will by hand may not be the norm, but it is a perfectly acceptable alternative to typed or printed wills. The key to making an effective handwritten will is knowing your state laws regarding whether witnesses are required and, if so, how many.

In this age of technology, writing out a will by hand may not be the norm, but it is a perfectly acceptable alternative to typed or printed wills. The key to making an effective handwritten will is knowing your state laws regarding whether witnesses are required and, if so, how many.

Holographic Wills

Not every jurisdiction requires that every will be witnessed. Some states, like California, authorize unwitnessed holographic wills if they are written entirely in the handwriting of the will maker, who is known as the testator. Notarizing a holographic will is not required, but it also doesn't invalidate the will.

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Witnessed Wills

If your state does not accept holographic wills, you can still write out your will by hand if you get witnesses to sign after you. Witness requirements vary among jurisdictions. Most states accept a will -- handwritten, typed or printed -- with two or three witness signatures. Notary signatures on witnessed wills are generally not required, but do not invalidate the will.

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Is a Hand-Written Notarized Will Legal?

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Is a Self Made Will Legal if Notarized?

A self-made will is legal if it meets your state's requirements for wills. All states have requirements that include having at least two witnesses and signing your will yourself. Some states allow you to notarize your will to make it "self-proving," which moves it through probate faster. However, as of December 2010, only Louisiana requires a will to be notarized.

Is a Handwritten Will Legal?

A handwritten or "holographic" will is a will written entirely in the handwriting of the testator, or the person making the will, according to The Free Legal Dictionary. Not all U.S. states recognize a holographic will as valid, according to MedLawPlus. Those states that recognize handwritten wills usually allow the will to be unwitnessed as long as it is signed by the testator and is written in the testator's handwriting.

What Does "Will Be Accepted Into Probate" Mean?

When somebody dies, his bills must be paid and his property gathered before assets are distributed to the beneficiaries named in his will. This court-supervised process is termed probate. Before a formal probate case is opened, the court hears evidence showing that the will is authentic and probate is appropriate. Only then is the case opened and the will said to be accepted into probate.

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