Pennsylvania law does not require the notarization of wills at the time of signing. If a will is not notarized, however, two witnesses must authenticate the will maker’s -- officially known as the "testator" -- signature at the time of probate.
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Notarization of Documents
The presence of a notary public provides several safeguards when parties sign important documents. For example, the notary verifies the parties' identities, and also acts as a witness to ensure that a document is properly signed and entered into willingly. The notary then places his official signature and seal on the document.
Pennsylvania does not require the notarization of wills at the time of signing. If a will does include a notarized affidavit signed by the testator and two witnesses at the time of execution, it is considered a "self-proven" will. If a will is not notarized, however, the witnesses must declare that the testator's signature is valid at the start of the probate process.
Probate is the process where a court determines a will's validity and distributes assets. Pennsylvania law requires that all wills must be probated before the county register of the county where the testator last resided. The testator's signature must be authenticated at the beginning of the probate process.
Authentication of Signature at Probate
At probate, two competent witnesses must declare, by affirmation or oath, the authenticity of the will maker’s signature or mark. The affirmation must be notarized if a witness is not present at probate and instead provides a written affirmation.
References & Resources
- National Notary Association: What Is A Notary?
- Onecle: 20 Pa. Cons. Stat. Section 3132, Manner of Probate
- National Notary Association: 57 P.S. Section 162, Power to Administer Oaths and Affirmations
- Onecle: 20 Pa. Cons. Stat. Section 3131, Place of Probate
- The 'Lectric Law Library: What is Probate?
- Pennsylvania Estate Practitioner Handbook: Section 2A, Probate Procedure