Does a LegalZoom Will Have to Be Notarized?

By Stephanie Kurose, J.D.

Does a LegalZoom Will Have to Be Notarized?

By Stephanie Kurose, J.D.

LegalZoom is a website designed to provide affordable legal help to Americans. Its various resources address a broad range of topics, including wills and estates.

Man in suit using official looking stamp on document

Every will, regardless of who drafts it, must meet the specific requirements of a state in order to be considered valid. If a state requires a will to be notarized, a LegalZoom will must be notarized in order to be considered a valid will. If a will does not meet the state's requirements, it cannot be considered by a judge during probate. If a will is deemed invalid, the judge must follow the state's intestacy laws, or laws of succession, in order to move forward in the probate process.

Basic Legal Requirements of a Valid Will

Most states have sets of core requirements that must be met in order for the wills of their residents to be considered valid. These state requirements often include the following:

  • The testator, or person creating the will, must be 18 or older.
  • The testator must have intent.
  • The testator must have capacity, i.e., he must be aware of his actions and be of "sound mind."
  • The will must be signed and witnessed.

In addition to the above requirements, all 50 states require that a will be in writing, except in very narrow circumstances. LegalZoom wills are all in writing, so the testator just needs to sign the document. If, for any reason, the testator cannot sign the will, he can generally direct a third party to sign on his behalf as long as the third party does so in his presence. Contact an estate attorney for more information if you are unable to sign your LegalZoom will.

Once you receive a LegalZoom will, you must ensure that, in addition to your own signature, the proper number of witnesses sign and date it. For example, while many states only require two witnesses, Vermont requires three.

Notarizing LegalZoom Wills

Because state laws govern wills, the requirements for a valid will vary by state. However, only one state—Louisiana—requires the notarization of a will. Unless you live in Louisiana, you do not need to have a LegalZoom will notarized.

However, sometimes notarization can help a will move more quickly through the probate process. Also called "self-proving wills," wills that are signed and notarized are usually accompanied by a separate document that explicitly states that the testator and the witnesses swear under penalty of perjury that the signatures are real and that the witnesses know the testator and watched him sign the will.

 

Failing to Meet the Requirements of a Valid Will

If a person fails to meet the state's specific requirements for a valid will, there are a couple of things that can happen.

If the testator had a previous will that met all of the legal requirements, a probate court can apply the previous will to determine how to distribute the deceased's estate. If the testator dies without a will, the probate court follows the state's laws of intestacy, which require distribution of the estate to the decedent's heirs.

By ensuring that your will is valid in your state of residency, you can rest assured that your wishes are carried out after you die. Notarization of a LegalZoom will is rarely required for a will to be valid.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.