YouTube – Does a Will need to be notarized?

Does a Will need to be notarized in Georgia?

The short answer is “no.”  A Will does not have to be notarized.  But, you do want to keep a Notary handy when you sign a Will for something else that comes along with a Will.

There are a few elements when it comes to having a valid Will in Georgia.

First, the person making the Will, they are called the Testator, have to be at least 14 years old in Georgia.  Georgia happens to have the lowest age in the United States when it comes to being able to make a valid Will.  Interestingly, someone who can’t get a learner’s permit to drive can make a valid Will in Georgia.

Second, the person must be of “sound mind.”  Essentially, this means they haven’t been declared incompetent by a Court.

Third, the Will must be written.  Oral Wills are not valid in Georgia.  I have other videos and articles about written Wills in Georgia.  They can be typed or handwritten.  But, oral Wills are not valid in Georgia.

Fourth, the Will must be signed by the Testator, the person making the Will.  They have to put their signature to it.

Finally, the Will must be signed by two witnesses.

There are a lot of other little nuances along the way when it comes to having a valid Will, but these are the big five.  As an example, the witnesses themselves have to be over 14 years old.  But, those are essentially the five things that make a valid Will in Georgia.

So, as you can see, a Notary isn’t necessary to make a valid Will in Georgia.  But, you do need a Notary handy and that is because of another document that typically goes along with a Will, but not always, but it needs to, and that is called the Self-Proving Affidavit.

Back in the old days when someone passed away, we would have to bring the witnesses into the Courthouse to have them testify that they were there that day and they saw the person sign the Will and that the signature is that of the Testator.  But, we estate planning attorneys learned that sometimes the witnesses would pass away themselves or maybe they would move away and you wouldn’t be able to find them.

So, a document called the Self-Proving Affidavit was created to prevent having to find the witnesses years later when the person making the Will passed away.  That affidavit essentially says the same thing.  Something like we were there that day, the Testator was of sound mind, they were over 14 years old, we saw them sign it, and we ourselves are over 14 years old.

Then, the Testator will sign the affidavit and the witnesses will sign the affidavit.  Then, that document is notarized.  So, you don’t need a Notary for the Will, but you do need the Notary for the Self-Proving Affidavit.

I can’t tell you how many times people come into my office with the original Will and they are very thankful, but you’ll find there is no Self-Proving Affidavit attached to it.  So, we go through this process of trying to find the witnesses.  Sometimes they have moved on, sometimes they have passed away.  It becomes very difficult.  So, while you do not need a Notary for a Will in Georgia, you do need a Notary for the Self-Proving Affidavit.  And you absolutely want to have a Self-Proving Affidavit with every Will in Georgia.  It just makes everything easier on the family.

Marietta Estate Planning Attorney

John P. Farrell, Esq.

Mr. Farrell is the author of Estate Planning for the Modern Family: A Georgian’s Guide to Wills, Trusts, and Powers of Attorney.  You can learn about his book here and learn more about John here.  Join the more than 1,000 people who subscribe to his Newsletter here.  Feel free to send John a message here.