Must Wills Be Notarized?
Notarizing a Will
I was asked the question recently, “Must wills be notarized?” The short answer is no, but without the notary a judge may not find them valid later on. Historically, the beneficiaries of a will needed to prove its validity. This proof came in the form of two or more witnesses. Sometimes providing witnesses presented a problem because the witnesses may or may outlive the testator of the will.
Witnesses in Utah
Utah law requires two witnesses to every will almost without exception. Problems arose, however, when one or more of the witnesses were unable to testify if or when someone contested the will. Consequently, most jurisdictions allow a notary public to witness the witnesses making the will “self-proved“. A notary public acts as an officer of the state and their notarization acts as proof of the genuine nature of the signature affixed to the document. The witnesses for the self proved will need provide no other testimony to prove their signature. Hence, the answer to the question “must wills be notarized?”, could be said to be yes as the notary acknowledgment does make the will so much less likely to be declared invalid in a court of law.
There are exceptions to the witness requirements of a will in Utah. These exceptions include holographic wills, wills validly signed in other jurisdictions, or a writing intended as a will and met a clear and convincing standard even though not fully otherwise complying with the law.. A holographic is a will written primarily in the handwriting of the testator.
For additional information about wills, please see our will page here.
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