Does my will have to be notarized to be valid in New York?

This is a common misconception I hear from clients and the answer is no, a will is not signed before a notary public but must be signed before two witnesses. Once the testator (the person signing the will) has signed, the witnesses sign below what is called an “attestation clause” in which they attest to the fact that they witnessed the testator sign the will in their presence. A sample attestation clause is attached below.

The witnesses should then sign what is called a “self-proving affidavit” which is attached to the will in which they state that they witnessed the testator signing the will and that the testator was of sound mind, etc. This affidavit is signed before a notary public. A sample self-proving affidavit is attached below.

A will can still be probated without a self-proving affidavit attached to it however if it is missing, affidavits from the witnesses must then be obtained and submitted with the original will. Often if a substantial period of time has elapsed from when the will was signed and submitted for probate, the witnesses may not be easily located. This may complicate the probate procedure incurring additional legal fees and other expenses.

For a discussion of the probate process in New York please refer to my blog post:

To ensure that your will may be probated without unnecessary complications be sure to retain the services of an attorney experienced in wills and probate.

About George H. Dippel, Attorney at Law

George H. Dippel has been practicing law for over 30 years. He is a graduate of Cornell Law School and a former partner at the law firm of Rivkin Radler in their real estate/banking department. Mr. Dippel opened his own law offices in 1993 in Bayside, Queens, New York. Mr. Dippel has assisted thousands of clients throughout Queens, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island, Long Island and Westchester with their wills, probate, trusts, real estate and business matters. In addition to practicing law, Mr. Dippel has taught real estate courses in Long Island University’s paralegal program. He is also a licensed real estate instructor and has taught real estate licensing courses in the New York Metropolitan area. Mr. Dippel is admitted to practice in all New York State Courts and the Federal Eastern and Southern District Courts.
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