How to Notarize a Last Will & Testament

By Teo Spengler

Some documents are so personal and definitive that the law requires you to prove your identify to a neutral third party before signing them. Many states put a will and last testament in this category, since it constitutes a directive that goes into effect only after the maker is no longer available to answer questions. A notary public is a professional authorized by a state to verify your signature.

Step 1

Locate a notary public in your area. Call to set up a convenient appointment to get your will notarized. Ask for and write down the office address and amount of the notary fee. offers an online list of notaries in your state (see Resources).

Step 2

Take your last will and testament and government-issued identification to the notary office during business hours. Passports, driver's license or state-issued identification cards work well.

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Step 3

Provide your identification, then sign the document while the notary is watching. After reviewing your identification, the notary will affix a notarial certificate which attests to the execution of the document. He will also note the facts of the execution in his records.

Step 4

Pay the notary fee. Notary fees vary among states, with $10 being typical as of November 2010.

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More than half of Americans don't have a will, according to the American Bar Association. Whether due to fear of death or lawyers' bills, many people procrastinate drafting a last testament. Yet a simple will is the task of a few hours, and proper execution is a matter of minutes -- if you understand the few procedural requirements. Those with large holdings or complicated estates may do better with tax and legal advice.

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States impose few restrictions on who can make a will -- any adult who is of age and able to reason qualifies. Testators in some states can disinherit spouse and children, as long as they use clear language, however many community property states require that a spouse get a share of the property. States are picky about executing wills, and the term "execution of a will" actually describes how a will must be signed. Consulting with an attorney can ensure that the process is handled correctly, and in accordance with state laws.

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