Does a Will Have to Be Notarized?
In Georgia, a will does not have to be notarized. However, there is a special notarized document that can be included with the will that makes the probate process easier. This document is sometimes called an “attestation clause” or referred to as an affidavit that self-proves a will.
Self-proving a will makes it unnecessary for the witnesses to testify during the probate process. This could be especially helpful if years have passed since the will was first made and those witnesses are not easily located. The affidavit can be included when the will is first created or at any time during the lifetime of the person who wrote the will and the witnesses. For convenience, many people prefer to create the affidavit when the will is first signed and witnessed and will include a notary public at the signing of the will. The presence of the notary is not for the will itself but for the self-proving affidavit.
However, the only part of the probate process that changes with including a self-proving will affidavit is to omit the need for the testimony of the witnesses during the probate process. Otherwise, the will is treated as any other will admitted to probate. The will can still be contested, revoked, or amended as any other will.
Georgia code §53-4-24 includes a sample affidavit with preferred wording. It uses the word “testator” which is the legal term for the person making the will. It does not have to be exactly the same wording but should substantially include:
- name of the state and county where it was created,
- wording to show the testator and witnesses are personally appearing before the notary public,
- the will is the last will of the testator who has made it as a free act and for the purposes described,
- the witnesses stated on oath to the notary public that they signed in the presence of the testator and at his or her request,
- that the testator is 14 years of age or older and of sound mind and each of the witnesses is also over 14 years of age,
- Lines for signatures of the testator and witnesses and for the notary public.
The affidavit must then be affixed by a certificate with the seal of the notary public and included with the will.
The attorneys are Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor are very experienced in creating wills and can help you create a self-proving will that meets the requirements of Georgia law. Just give us a call at 678-971-3413 to set up a consult with one of our attorneys today.