A will is one of the most common estate planning tools, giving the testator the power to decide how their administrator will distribute their properties when they die. Since it is a legal document, many may wonder whether a will’s notarization is necessary for it to be enforceable.
Notarization is not a requirement
Georgia does not require testators to have their wills notarized for the documents to be legal and enforceable. Instead, for a will to be valid in the state, the testator and the will must meet the following requirements:
- Testamentary capacity: In Georgia, any individual at least 14 years old and of sound mind can create a will.
- Will requirements: A valid and enforceable Georgia will must be in writing, signed by the testator and two witnesses. Additionally, the testator must create and sign the will freely and voluntarily. Any trace of fraud, coercion, duress or undue influence will render the will invalid.
However, while notarization is not one of the requirements to make a will valid in Georgia, testators are free to have their wills notarized.
Why do others have their wills notarized if it is not a requirement?
Many testators have their wills notarized despite the same not being a requirement under the law because notarization allows wills to become self-proving. When a will is self-proving, the court can accept the document without having to contact the signed witnesses. Consequently, this makes the probate process quicker.
Once a notary public signs an affidavit acknowledging that the testator and the witnesses are who they say they are and that they did knowingly sign the document, the will becomes self-proving.
Preparing ahead of probate
Estate planning allows individuals to prepare for anything that their properties and estate plan documents could encounter in the future. If probate expedition is one of the testator’s estate planning priorities, they can consider having their will notarized.
As easy as it may seem, this is part of a complex planning process. It is essential for estate planners to carefully research options and possibly consult with a legal professional to avoid any legal risks.