Does a Last Will and Testament have to be notarized to be legal or is having 2 witness signatures sufficient?

UPDATED: Nov 12, 2013

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Does a Last Will and Testament have to be notarized to be legal or is having 2 witness signatures sufficient?

Does it matter if the 2 witnesses are family members?

Asked on November 12, 2013 under Estate Planning, Michigan


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The Will does not need to be notarized, but it needs to be signed by the testator (maker of the Will) in the presence of two disinterested witnesses.  Those two disinterested witnesses also sign in the presence of the testator.

Family members should not be the witnesses because they are not disinterested if they are beneficiaries of the Will as this would present a conflict of interest.  If the requirement of two disinterested witnesses is not satisfied, legal challenges to the Will may arise in the future.  If the entire Will is invalidated, then intestate succession determines inheritance.  Intestate succession means dying without a Will.   If the entire Will is not invalidated, it is possible that the provisions pertaining to the beneficiaries who were witnesses may be invalidated.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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