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Will a notarized paper with my wishes on it be as legal as a will. Before something happens to my husband and I.

Mount Pleasant, UT |

If we end up not being able to care for our children or we pass a way.

Attorney Answers 4


  1. No would be the simple answer unless you literally own no property.

    Talk with a local attorney and see what he/she thinks makes sense for you and your husband. At least you will get a professional opinion and find out the costs.

    Best wishes.

    Legal Disclaimer: Paul A. Smolinski is licensed to practice law in the State of Illinois only, and as such, his answers to AVVO inquiries are based on his understanding of Illinois law only. His answers are for general information about perceived legal issues within this question only and no response to any posted inquiry should be deemed to extend any right of confidentiality between you and Mr. Smolinski, to constitute legal advice, or create an attorney/client or other contractual relationship. An attorney/client relationship is formed only by specific agreement including an evaluation of the specific legal problem and review of all the facts and documents at issue. We try to insure the accuracy of this information, but we cannot guarantee its accuracy. The reader should never assume that this information applies to his or her specific situation or constitutes legal advice. Therefore, please consult competent counsel that practices in the subject area in your jurisdiction and who is familiar with your specific facts and all of the circumstances.


  2. I am not sure. Maybe. Maybe not. There is no way to say for sure. If that is the way you want to leave things for your kids, then I guess you can save some money and write away.

    The sad fact is, every state has rules about what does and does not qualify as a Will. My first question for you is: is a Will the best estate planning tool for you? I do not know, because you have not provided enough facts. (You cannot possibly provide enough facts in 800 characters or less).

    Some other questions:
    How old are your kids? (If they are minors, a Will could lead to separate conservatorship estates for each of your kids, to be administered through probate until the child for that estate becomes an adult.)
    Do you want to avoid probate? (You cannot do that with a Will).
    Do you want to have your kids inherit everything in a lump sum, or through staggered distributions over time? (A Will is not a good tool for staggering distributions, because probate administration will generally need to continue throughout the duration of the conservatorship estates.)

    Aside from the considerations of a Will, you have not mentioned power of attorney forms. These forms take care of YOU and your affairs, while you are alive, but incapacitated. If you do not have durable power of attorney forms, probate proceedings will be necessary to appoint a guardian/conservator for YOU, if you become incapacitated. This is easily avoidable with a power of attorney form, provided it is properly set up.

    Estate planning is not a do-it-yourself project. The best case scenario is that you will do no harm and luck upon something that can be made to work...like your notarized note. Worst case scenario...your estate is tied up for years in probate and costs your children thousands of dollars more than it should have. The court costs and attorney fees eat up assets that should have gone to your family. Is it worth the risk?

    An estate planning attorney can help you sort through all of the options available to you and help you determine your best option. You owe it to your family to do this correctly and make sure that everything is set up to ensure that your objectives will be realized.

    James Frederick

    *** 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.


  3. I am not sure. Maybe. Maybe not. There is no way to say for sure. If that is the way you want to leave things for your kids, then I guess you can save some money and write away.

    The sad fact is, every state has rules about what does and does not qualify as a Will. My first question for you is: is a Will the best estate planning tool for you? I do not know, because you have not provided enough facts. (You cannot possibly provide enough facts in 800 characters or less).

    Some other questions:
    How old are your kids? (If they are minors, a Will could lead to separate conservatorship estates for each of your kids, to be administered through probate until the child for that estate becomes an adult.)
    Do you want to avoid probate? (You cannot do that with a Will).
    Do you want to have your kids inherit everything in a lump sum, or through staggered distributions over time? (A Will is not a good tool for staggering distributions, because probate administration will generally need to continue throughout the duration of the conservatorship estates.)

    Aside from the considerations of a Will, you have not mentioned power of attorney forms. These forms take care of YOU and your affairs, while you are alive, but incapacitated. If you do not have durable power of attorney forms, probate proceedings will be necessary to appoint a guardian/conservator for YOU, if you become incapacitated. This is easily avoidable with a power of attorney form, provided it is properly set up.

    Estate planning is not a do-it-yourself project. The best case scenario is that you will do no harm and luck upon something that can be made to work...like your notarized note. Worst case scenario...your estate is tied up for years in probate and costs your children thousands of dollars more than it should have. The court costs and attorney fees eat up assets that should have gone to your family. Is it worth the risk?

    An estate planning attorney can help you sort through all of the options available to you and help you determine your best option. You owe it to your family to do this correctly and make sure that everything is set up to ensure that your objectives will be realized.

    James Frederick

    *** 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.


  4. The notary simply serves as evidence that you signed the document and that no one forged your name. That's all. Each state has requirements for whether the document or paper you signed is a valid will or not. In Utah, a handwritten will needs no notary or witnesses, but it has to be 100% in your handwriting; nothing typed or printed. On the other hand, a typed or printed will has to be witnessed by two persons of legal age who are not named in the will. For example, a couple of neighbors. It is good to have that will notarized, but it is not essential. A witnessed and notarized will is self-proving. That means that when the will is probated, in probate court, the witnesses don't have to come to court to testify that they saw you sign the will; the notary becomes the proof that you and the witnesses all signed the will. Good luck!

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