top of page

How to notarize a will in the U.S.?

Updated: Mar 24, 2022

Anyone of legal age (18 years old in most states) and a sound mind can make a will.

The testator must sign and date the will in front of two witnesses. The witnesses must sign and date the will as well. They must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind. The witnesses cannot be the interested party, such as the executor or the beneficiaries or the spouse of the executor or the beneficiaries in the will. The witnesses do not need to know the contents of the will, but they must know the document is the testator’s will and it’s been signed freely and voluntarily.

Then, the testator and the witnesses take an oath before a notary public at the time the will is signed. The notary will notarize what’s called a “Self-proving Affidavit” part of the will. The notarized will can simplify the process of the probate and save time. Probate is the court-supervised process of authenticating a will after someone passes. If a testator writes a will, it must go through probate.

During probate, the executor must “prove” the validity of the will to the probate court. Proving a will involves convincing the court that the will document really is the will of the person it purports to be. Methods for proving a will vary, but many courts will require the witness to appear at court, either personally or by sworn statement. If there is any trouble locating a witness, it could cause problems or delays with probate. But if you include a self-proving affidavit with your will, it does not need to be proved to the court. The affidavit itself proves the will. This could speed up the probate process.

Whether you can use a self-proving affidavit depends on the law of your state. Most states allow the use of self-proving affidavits, but there are a few exceptions.

Some states do not allow wills to be self-proved. In these states, there is no option to include a self-proving affidavit; your will must be proved to the court. These states are:

  • District of Columbia

  • Ohio

Other states allow your will to be self-proved without a self-proving affidavit. In these states, as long as you sign and witness your will correctly, your will does not have to be proved to the probate court, and there is no need to make a self-proving affidavit. These states are:

  • California

  • Illinois

  • Indiana

  • Maryland

If you decide to use a self-proving affidavit, you and your witnesses must go to the notary public together. (Or have the notary come to you.) You all must sign at the same time. You and witnesses should sign the will in the presence and full view of a notary public.

Store your will in a safe place. Keep your will in a safe place such as a safe deposit box or cabinet and let your executor or someone you can trust know where it is. A will cannot be found is invalid.

The Self-proving Affidavit sample in Virginia is as follows:

jpg from



STEP 1. Make a will.

The will must be writing. It could be a pre-printed or typewritten document. Or, some states allow it could be handwritten (also called holographic will).

STEP 2. Find two witnesses who are at least 18 years old and of sound mind.

The witnesses should be uninterested and cannot be beneficiaries or spouses of the beneficiaries in the will.

STEP 3. Attach a Self-proving Affidavit to a will.

STEP 4. Having your documents and witnesses together with you to see a notary public.

We, American Notary Service Center (, provide notarization services for wills and mobile notaries can come to you.

STEP 5. Show your identification in front of the notary public.

Identification could be your Driver's License, Passport, Green Card or other government-issued photo identification documents.

STEP 6. Answer the questions the notary public asked you.

The notary public must ensure you (the testator) are of sound mind and are not under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Also, the testator must voluntarily enter into and sign the will free from duress or coercion.

STEP 7. The testator and the witnesses sign their names and initials in front of the notary public.

STEP 8. The notary public signs his/her name and stamp on the will.


American Notary Service Center Inc. provides fair, fast, confidential, and professional document notarization and certification services for our clients. We also provide various assistance services to small businesses led by socially and economically disadvantaged groups. Our service helps small businesses obtain federal government contracts, gain a foothold in the market, and boost their sales. For more information, please visit our website at, and contact us by calling 202-599-0777 or by email at


bottom of page