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.

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.

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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Can a Notarized Will Be Accepted as a Legal Document in North Carolina?

A will is a valid legal document in any state, provided that it meets the laws and qualifications of that jurisdiction. In North Carolina, requirements for legal wills appear in Chapter 31 of the state’s General Statutes. Your will does not have to be notarized for it to be a valid, legal document. Even if it is notarized, it may not be valid and legal unless it meets the state’s other requirements.

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.

How to Prove a Will When Your Subscribing Witnesses Are All Dead or Unavailable

Wills can be an effective estate planning tool for distributing property after your death. But, for its terms to be honored when you pass away, most states require someone who was present at the time the will was signed to attest to the document's validity. Knowing how a will can be verified if all witnesses either pass away or cannot be found will help ensure that your property passes according to your wishes.

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