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Is a Self-Made Will Legal if it is Notarized?

According to the National Notary Association (NNA), notarization is “the official fraud-deterrent process that assures the parties of a transaction that a document is authentic and can be trusted.” It stands to reason that if you write a will by yourself and have it notarized it would be completely legal…right?

Not necessarily.

For example, if you hand-wrote your will (created a holographic will) and did not follow the requirements for this type of document, simply having it notarized will not automatically make it legal. One requirement is that it be completely handwritten (no part typed or printed from a computer). Another requirement is that it is signed by the testator. If those two requirements are ignored, the notarization will not help.

However, if you have created a will on your own using online software or other will programs, it may be advisable to have the will notarized. In Colorado it is not required to have a will notarized; however, this state does allow you to make the will self-proving. It must be notarized in order to do this.

What is a Self-Proving Will?

A self-proving will is one that has been notarized with you and your witnesses in attendance to show that everyone in attendance was fully aware that they were signing the will. This can also show that the testator was of sound mind when the will was written, the testator created the will on their own , understood how it disposed of his or her assets, that they are over 18 and of sound mind and that the testator and witnesses were of the legal age to participate in the process.

Benefit of Self-Proving Wills

The benefit of going through this process is that it allows the probate courts to accept a self-made will without needing to contact all of the witnesses. It can help speed up the probate process because the courts will feel more satisfied that the self-made will is valid. It may also save your family money as they navigate the probate process.

Pitfalls of Self-Made Wills

Even if notarized, your self-made will may not contain the right language and provisions to fully protect your estate and provide for your family after you pass away. If you do not have the legal background to draft the most comprehensive document possible, your family may be faced with:

  • Excess taxation on your estate
  • Contests to the will from those that feel they are due a portion of the estate
  • Confusion regarding the terms of the will
  • Confusion on how to care for children left behind
  • Lack of named executor to handle details
  • And many more complicated scenarios

The Denver will lawyers at The Brown Law Firm, LLC can help you write a legal will in Colorado. They can also help families go through the probate process if you have discovered a holographic will written by a deceased loved one. Call (303) 339-3750 or send us a message online to learn more.