My husband pass away a few months ago. He left a will signed by two witnesses. He was an Attorney so he did the Will himself. He said the Will didn't need to be notarized. We live in the state of Illnois, and I heard that it has to notarized, is that true?
Lawsuit / Dispute Attorney
A Will must be notarized by someone not involved in the Will. The notary attests to the fact that the witnesses observed the testator signature and that the testator was of sound mind and not being coerced.
If the Will has the proper "attestation" language it does not need to be notarized in Illinois. However, it may not matter if you and your husband owned assets jointly or you were named as beneficiary on other assets. You should talk with a local probate attorney to help guide you at this time of readjustment.
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Short answer: no need for a notary.
Longer answer: A Will must be in writing, signed by the testator and by two witnesses. If the testator cannot physically sign his name he may direct another party to do so. This party may not be one of the witnesses. Each witness must sign the Will in the testator’s presence. (See: Section 755 ILCS 5/4-3)
If a Will’s authenticity is unchallenged it may be probated in a simplified procedure if it has been self-proven. Witnesses to a self-proven Will are not required to testify in court because the court automatically accepts a self-proven Will as authentic. To self-prove a Will the witnesses must sign an attestation clause in the Will or swear in an affidavit before a notary to the authenticity of the Will. The affidavit should be part of the Will or attached to it. (See: Section 755 ILCS 5/6-4)
So only a self-proved Will needs to be notarized. You do not need to have a self-proved Will for it to be valid.
*** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. If I refer to your state's laws, you should not rely on what I say; I just did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant that I hoped you would find helpful. You should verify and confirm any information provided with an attorney licensed in your state.
Estate Planning Attorney
As Mr. Frederick said a will does not have to be notarized to be valid in Illinois. A properly notarized will is self-proving which means that the witnesses normally do not have to come to court. To have a will that has not been notarized admitted to probate, the witnesses will need to appear in court.
The terms of a will are not effective unless a probate estate is opened.