During this time of uncertainty, many Americans are making their estate plans. EstateGuidance offers products for determining the disposition of your assets, caring for minor children, making end of life care decisions, naming an agent to make healthcare decisions for you as well as funeral planning. After you create and print your documents, you must execute them properly in accordance with state law. Documents must be signed in the presence of witnesses and witnesses must also sign the document. While it is a best practice to have your documents notarized, notarization is generally not required for Last Will and Testament and Living Will documents to be legally valid and enforceable. This guide will help you navigate proper document execution during this challenging time.
Witnesses are required:
The presence of three witnesses will ensure the validity of your Last Will and Testament and Living Will in case one witness is later determined to be disqualified. Your witnesses should not be:
- Anyone related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption;
- Anyone under 18 years of age;
- Anyone who would stand to benefit from your Last Will and Testament; or
- Anyone appointed as a Healthcare Agent or a healthcare provider.
You and your witnesses must sign the signature page of the Last Will and Testament and Living Will.
Notarization is not required:
It is not required to have your Last Will and Testament or Living Will notarized. If feasible, it is advisable to complete the Affidavit of Execution with a notary public and your witnesses. Completing the Affidavit of Execution makes the will a “self-proving will” which means that the probate court can admit the will without the testimony of the witnesses. However, California, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Ohio, and Vermont do not recognize Affidavits of Execution.
Likewise, completing the Acknowledgement of Notary Public attached to the end of the Living Will helps to further ensure the document’s validity if ever questioned or using the Living Will in a state other than where it was created.
Some states have recently implemented new laws that permit online or remote notarization. Other states have temporarily allowed for remote or online notarization due to COVID-19. If you choose to have your document notarized and need assistance finding a notary or would like to learn more about online or remote notarization in your state, please visit the National Notary Association website.
Practice social distancing:
When executing your document, it is important to be mindful of social distancing. All parties should remain at least 6 feet apart. In addition, all parties should wear masks, use their own pens and wash their hands before and after handling the document.