How to Notarize a Last Will and Testament

By Jeffry Olson, J.D.

How to Notarize a Last Will and Testament

By Jeffry Olson, J.D.

Each state has its own laws for executing a valid last will and testament. To be sure that it holds up in court, and therefore transfers your assets as you wish, you must follow the appropriate laws in your state. Many states require notarization of all the signatures on the document. Some states require witnesses for wills to be valid. The signatures of the witnesses may also require notarization, pursuant to state law. You can meet the notarization requirement by following a few simple steps.

Three people pointing at documents with pens

1. Find a notary public.

Locate a convenient notary. Many people know someone who is a notary. If you don't personally know someone who is a notary, an online search can help you quickly locate the office of one. Your bank likely provides notary services. Schedule an appointment with the notary in advance, ensuring their availability at a time and location convenient for you. Find out what, if any, fee the notary charges.

2. Provide identification.

Bring your last will and testament and appropriate identification to the notary appointment. Your driver's license, state-issued identification card, or passport meet the identification requirement.

3. Sign your will in front of the notary.

After proving your identity, sign the document while the notary watches you. Depending on your state, the notary may stamp and sign the document or otherwise indicate that they have notarized your signature. The notary may note the act for their own records. You must sign your name in the presence of the notary. You may not sign the document in private and then ask a notary to notarize your signature later. They cannot notarize your signature unless they witness you signing the document.

The purpose of the notary is only to notarize your signature. The notary will not act as a witness and will not provide legal advice. Do not ask questions of the notary beyond the requirements for notarizing your signature. The purpose of the notary is important in the process, but it is also very limited. Do not expect more from your notary than the notarization of your signature. In some cases, your attorney or your attorney's secretary may also act as your notary.

4. Pay the fee.

Pay any required notary fee. This amount varies by state, but is typically a nominal amount. A bank or other institution may provide notary services as a complimentary service for customers.

Keep in mind that some state laws require you to have any signatures on your last will and testament notarized. Notarization requirements are common on important legal documents. After you have created a last will and testament, do not delay in signing the document and having it notarized. After you find a notary, schedule an appointment for a time convenient for you. At the appointment, provide government-issued identification to the notary. While the notary watches, sign the last will and testament. Do not sign the document in advance. The notary can only notarize a signature they witness. If required, pay any notary fee. Your last will and testament is only valid if properly executed.

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.