Good evening! My name is Laura Biewer and I am the founder of www.CoachMeLaura.com and owner of At Your Service Mobile Notary.
I want to talk to you tonight about last Wills and Testaments, but before I do, I just need to give you the legal disclosure that I'm not an attorney and I cannot give you legal advice.
What I do want to share is based on my experience with customers approaching me about getting their will notarized. What you need to know is that two witnesses are the requirement for wills in almost every single state. Now one state does require three, and there may be a couple of States that require notarization on top of the witnesses, but for the most part, the two witnesses and the will maker's signatures are all that's required.
You can notarize a will under different conditions. One would be that there's an attestation clause. An attestation clause is simply going to state that the will maker and witness one and witness two were all in each other's presence at the time of signing, and that they are aware that the document that was signed was the will makers Last Will and Testament. The other thing would be that if there is a self-proving affidavit (that's a very similar document that does the same thing) and again, you would notarize the will-maker and the two witnesses. That typically has a Jurat on it.
So why do you need that? If you've already done the will and it just needs two witnesses - why bother with the other document? Here's why, because of probate. The probate process is slow and this document, which is notarized, would expedite the probate process by verifying these witnesses up front with the notary. Then the court doesn't have to do it.
Now, there's one other occasion when you could notarize it (even if you don't have an attestation clause or a self-proving affidavit), and that would be, just because they asked you to do it. However, and this is a big one, it may never replace the requirements of two witnesses. That means two people who are there at the time of signature. They watch the signers sign the document. This is incredibly important to have happen.
Now a will is easily done on your own. They can go to LegalZoom.com or RocketLawyer.com or they can go to Office Max and download or buy these documents. But they're very sensitive because they deal with the assets after the will-maker is gone. Not everybody goes through probate, however most will if they have real estate that they own or if they have liquid assets over a certain threshold amount. Every state is a little different with that.
So how do I avoid the probate process? You avoid it by not owning anything at your death or by having a living trust. And a living trust is a vehicle for you to give up ownership of your assets, your real estate and any other assets during your lifetime to the trust. The trust owns it, and you own the trust. And then you manage all those assets for your own benefit during your lifetime. And, you make provision for those who are left behind and who you would like to get what.
Those are the ways you can work around that. If you're thinking about a living trust, please seek the services of an attorney or professional that can help you with that because I'm not going to be able to give you advice on whether a trust is good for your situation or not.
I hope what I've shared with you today is helpful the next time you're approached about whether or not you can notarize their will.
Thanks for listening.
Until Next Time,