Are Notarized Wills Legal?

By A.L. Kennedy

In all 50 U.S. states, at least two witnesses are required to make a will valid, according to MedLawPlus. However, only Louisiana requires a will to be notarized in addition to being signed by two witnesses. Although a notary may sign a will as a witness in most other states, the fact of notarization is not enough to make a will valid, according to FindLaw.

In all 50 U.S. states, at least two witnesses are required to make a will valid, according to MedLawPlus. However, only Louisiana requires a will to be notarized in addition to being signed by two witnesses. Although a notary may sign a will as a witness in most other states, the fact of notarization is not enough to make a will valid, according to FindLaw.

Witnesses

All 50 U.S. states require a will to be signed by at least two witnesses, according to MedLawPlus. In most states, anyone who is mentally competent, able to sign his name, and 18 years of age or older may serve as a witness, according to FindLaw. Some states, such as Louisiana, have specific rules about what witnesses must do if the testator, or will maker, has certain disabilities, such as blindness or an inability to write, according to Louisiana Civil Code 1578-1580.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Notarization

Having a will notarized is not required in any U.S. state besides Louisiana, and a notary's signature cannot take the place of the requirement that two witnesses sign, according to FindLaw. However, a person who is a notary may also serve as a witness to a testator's signature if she meets the state's requirements for witnesses. The fact that a witness is also a notary, however, has no effect on her ability to witness a will, according to FindLaw.

Louisiana Law

Louisiana is the only U.S. state that requires a will to be notarized to be valid, according to the Louisiana State Bar Association. In Louisiana, a will must be notarized in addition to being signed by two competent witnesses, according to Louisiana Civil Code 1577. The notary's signature alone will not make up for signatures of witnesses that are missing, according to the Louisiana State Bar Association.

Exceptions

In some states, wills that are not witnessed may still be valid if they meet special requirements for exceptions, according to FindLaw. For instance, some states recognize nuncupative wills, also known as oral wills, or holographic wills, which are wills written entirely in the handwriting of the testator. States that recognize these exceptions will find these wills valid even if these wills do not have a witness' signature, according to FindLaw. Notarization of a nuncupative or holographic will is not necessary for the will to be valid and will not make an invalid will valid.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
Is a Notarized Will Legal in Massachusetts?

References

Resources

Related articles

What Is a Legal Will in the State of North Carolina?

Wills in North Carolina can take many forms, depending on the circumstances. However, for each form of will to be declared valid by a North Carolina probate court, the will must conform to the requirements of the North Carolina state code Chapter 31 for the type of will being used.

Are Handwritten Wills Legal in Louisiana If Not Notarized?

Under Louisiana law, an olographic will is one written, signed and dated entirely in the handwriting of the testator, or person making the will, according to Louisiana Civil Code 1575. A handwritten or olographic will is generally considered valid in Louisiana as long as the entire will is in the testator's own handwriting, even if the will is not notarized, according to Louisiana Civil Code 1574 and 1575.

Indiana Legal Criteria for a Will

Indiana law requires that a will meet certain legal requirements before the Indiana courts will consider it valid. Many of these requirements, such as requiring that the testator, or will maker, be mentally competent to make a will and that the will be signed, are also required by other states, according to FindLaw. It is always wise to consult a qualified attorney when preparing a will in Indiana or any other state.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

Is it Legal to Handwrite a Will in Minnesota if You Get it Notarized?

A handwritten will may also be known as a holographic or olographic will. Some states recognize a handwritten will as ...

Do I Need an Attorney to Make a Legal Will?

In most states, a legal or valid will must contain certain basic information, such as the testator's or will-maker's ...

Does a LegalZoom Will Have to Be Notarized?

LegalZoom provides a number of law-related resources, including wills based on information you provide. Like any will, ...

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 ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED