Nov 30, 2010

Notarizing Those Wills, Part II

oops.jpgDear Liza: I am confused. You recently wrote a post that said NOT to notarize Wills. But, in my state we routinely have the witnesses to the Wills sign an affidavit in front of a notary public. The affidavit states that the document signed was a Will and that it was properly signed and witnessed. Our lawyer told us that by doing this, which is called making a Will "self-proving," it makes it easier to submit the Will to the probate court because it eliminates the need for the witnesses to appear after our death, unless the Will is challenged, which is rare. What's up?  Well, what's up is that I was WRONG. As one of my readers helpfully pointed out, virtually instantly, I blew it.  Here's a better answer. For a Will to be legally valid, it must be signed before two witnesses (three in Vermont). Signing a Will only in front of a notary isn't going to create a valid Will, which is what I was thinking when I wrote that earlier post. But,of course, law being the law, it gets a bit more complicated. After you create a valid Will, then, in most states (except Louisianna, which has it's own rules and also California, where I practice) you can have the witnesses sign a statement in front of a notary public that simplifies court procedures after you die.This is called a "self-proving" affidavit, and that, dear reader, is what your lawyer was talking about.