Is a Self Made Will Legal if Notarized?

By A.L. Kennedy

A self-made will is legal if it meets your state's requirements for wills. All states have requirements that include having at least two witnesses and signing your will yourself. Some states allow you to notarize your will to make it "self-proving," which moves it through probate faster. However, as of December 2010, only Louisiana requires a will to be notarized.


In order to write a valid self-made will, most states require the testator, or person making the will, to be a legal adult aged 18 or older with the mental capacity to grasp what a will is for and what his own will may do to his property after he dies, according to FindLaw. You must also make your self-made will in writing in most states. You can write your will out by hand, type it or use a preprinted will form in most states.


A self-made will must meet your state's requirement for witnesses, just like any other will, according to the American Bar Association. Forty-eight states require two witnesses to watch you sign your will. These witnesses then sign your will as well. Witnesses in all states must be legal adults with the ability to understand what they are witnessing. Vermont requires three witnesses, and Louisiana requires only one witness.

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Only Louisiana requires you to have a notary sign your will, according to MedLaw Plus. This rule includes self-made wills. Many other U.S. states allow you to use notarization to make a self-proving will. A self-proving will usually goes through probate faster because the probate court does not have to call in your witnesses and ask them whether they actually signed your will. However, these states do not require a valid will to be notarized, and do not accept a self-made will that is notarized unless it is also witnessed according to that state's laws.

Holographic Wills

Some states allow you to avoid needing two or more witnesses by making a holographic or olographic will, one that is written in your own handwriting. In most states, only your name, signature, the date and "material portions" need to be in your own handwriting. These wills do not have to be witnessed or notarized to be legal, but witnesses and notarization may move them through the probate court more quickly because the court will not have to validate your handwriting, according to FindLaw.

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Is a Notarized Will Legal in Massachusetts?



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Do You Need a Lawyer to Make a Will Legal?

Most U.S. states have a handful of specific items that must be included for a will to be valid. These include items like a signature, the appointment of an executor, and at least one phrase distributing some or all of the estate, according to FindLaw. Although an attorney is not required to make a valid or legal will, an attorney can be helpful if you have children, a large estate, or are concerned about will contests after your death.

Does a LegalZoom Will Have to Be Notarized?

LegalZoom provides a number of law-related resources, including wills based on information you provide. Like any will, a will from LegalZoom must meet your state's requirements for valid wills in order to be considered legal in your state. A LegalZoom will may or may not have to be notarized. You may also wish to consider having it notarized to make probate move more quickly, if your state allows.

Rules About Wills

Your will explains to those you leave behind how you want them to deal with your property when you die. It also allows you to appoint someone you trust to handle your estate, as well as to appoint a guardian for your minor children. Although there is no set form for wills across all states, a few basic rules can make a will valid in the eyes of a probate court.

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