Notarizing a Will in Texas

By Holly Cameron

By writing and signing a will, you specify how you want your property distributed when you die. After death, the law requires wills to be proved in court, a process known as probate. Texas laws do not require wills to be notarized, but notarizing a will may speed up the probate process. Chapter IV of the Texas Probate Code contains the relevant legal provisions for signing and notarizing a will in the state.

Signing a Will in Texas

Section 59 of the Probate Code allows anyone who is at least 18 years old to make a will, if he is of sound mind. The granter of the will should sign it in the presence of two independent witnesses, who should also sign. The witnesses must be older than 14 years and should not be beneficiaries under the will.

Notary Publics

A notary public is authorized by the state to administer oaths and certify official documents, including wills. Any Texas resident who is 18 years or over may apply to become a notary public, if he has no serious criminal convictions. Each notary public must maintain a record book, listing the date of each document notarized, the name of the signatory and details of the witnesses. Anyone signing a document before a notary public must appear in person.

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Notarizing a Will

Section 59 of the Texas Probate Code provides a form of affidavit, or sworn statement, to be completed by a notary public when notarizing a will. The granter of the will must declare to the notary public, in the presence of his two witnesses, that he willingly signed the will, that he is 18 years or over and that he is in sound mind. The witnesses also declare that they signed as witnesses to the will. The notary public then signs the affidavit and attaches his official seal. The affidavit should be attached to the will so that it can be easily found on the granter's death. The granter can arrange for notarization at any time before he dies.

Self-Proving Wills

Once the granter of a will has died, the probate process establishes that the will was properly signed and has not been canceled or revoked. If a notary public’s affidavit is attached to the will, there is no need for the witnesses to attend court during the probate procedure. Notarizing a will, therefore, renders it “self-proving.”

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Self-Proving Will Statutes in New York


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Do Wills Have to Be Notarized?

The signature of the testator, or will maker, need not be notarized, nor can a notarized signature replace the legal requirement of two subscribing witnesses to the will. A notary's function is to assure that the person signing a document is the person claiming to sign a document -- a function performed by comparing identification and sometimes fingerprints -- while witnesses to a will must also affirm testamentary capacity and intent.

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.

Verifying Authenticity of a Last Will & Testament

The maker of a will, commonly known as the "testator," must draft the will in accordance with the state's probate code for it to be held as valid. Generally, these formalities exist so that a probate court can verify the authenticity of the will. When a will is admitted to probate court, the court examines the will to make sure it was made in compliance with state law.

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