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Coronavirus - Does Your Will Need To Be Notarized?

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

Of all the documents that a person can have as part of their written estate plan the one that people are the most familiar with is the last will and testament. Even though other estate planning documents are as important, or may even be more important to protect you while you are alive, such as a durable power of attorney, a living will, a power of attorney for health care, or a trust, most people are familiar with a Will. Thanks to Hollywood and movies such as the recently released Knives Out, almost everyone understands that a written Will controls where your money, property, and other assets will go, after you pass away.

The purpose of this article is to talk about a written Will and answer the specific question of whether your Will needs to be notarized in Idaho to be valid. We can answer this question because for more than 70 years the Racine law office has been the premier estate planning law firm in Idaho. We have helped thousands of clients create their own customized written will to accomplish exactly what they want. Our knowledge, skill, and experience give us the ability to help you too!

Our goal in this article is to provide you with information to answer the specific question listed above. However, this article is only a short summary of the things that you should know and understand if you are interested in getting your own written Will completed. If you are, we encourage you to download our free Estate Planning Questionnaire. This document helps you prepare all the information you need to begin your own estate planning documents including a written will.

We also encourage you to schedule a free 30-minute consultation, where we can go over the information in your Questionnaire and answer all your specific questions.

Types of Wills That are Valid in Idaho

To start with, there are many types of Wills that are valid in Idaho. These include a formal typed will that is signed, dated, and witnessed. This also includes what is known as a holographic will. This type of Will is one that is written entirely in the person’s own handwriting. A holographic will does not need to be witnessed but it should be signed and dated. Finally, there is what is known as a self-proving will. This is a formal typed Will that is signed, dated, witnessed, AND notarized.

All the Wills listed above can be valid in Idaho. However, these types of Wills are not the same. Really, a better way of saying it is that these types of Wills aren’t equal in what they can accomplish.

Why You Should Have Your Will Notarized

In our opinion, a self-proving Will is the best type of Will you can have. This is the type of written Will that we prepare for all our clients when we are helping them create their own customized estate plan.

All Wills can be challenged based on whether or not they are legitimate. In other words, when a Will is filed in a probate proceeding in a court, any party can claim that the Will is not valid or that it was done fraudulently. A holographic will is the most difficult type of Will to prove as valid because it does not have any witnesses.

A formal typed Will that is signed, dated, and witnessed, is a little easier to prove as valid. However, it still requires those witnesses who signed the Will to come forward and testify about the signing of the Will. If many years have gone by and the witnesses are death, or cannot be located, or worse, if you cannot read the handwriting of the witnesses to decipher what their name is, it’s possible you may not know who or where the witness is which makes you unable to call them to validate the Will.

A self-proving Will doesn’t have these problems. As mentioned above, a self-proving Will is one that is formally typed, signed, witnessed, AND notarized. The notary actually testifies to having seen both the witnesses and the testator sign the Will and acknowledges this through the proper notary format. When this is done, the Will is self-proving which means you are not required to call any witnesses to prove its validity.

How to Get Your Will Notarized During the Coronavirus

The Coronavirus has made it a little more difficult to complete the proper signing, witnessing and notarizing of a self-proving Will. However, we are still able to accomplish this for our clients.

Through technology, we can either mail or email the documents to the client. Additionally, through video conference calls we can verify the identity of the individual and witnesses who are signing the documents. We are also able to personally see the signatures being completed on the documents. This allows for us as a notary to properly notarize the documents once they are returned.

If you are eager to get your estate-planning done, including your own written last will and testament, but the Coronavirus has slowed you down, contact us today. We are confident that we can help you complete your estate plan and help you have a valid self-proving will and other important estate planning documents. Download our Estate Planning Questionnaire and contact us today for a free 30-minute consultation or we can answer your questions and discuss the process in more detail.

Enlist an Idaho Estate Planning Attorney To Help You

Our team of Idaho lawyers can help you with any of your estate planning or probate needs. Whether you are seeking to create or review an estate plan for yourself or would like to help a loved one, we are available to discuss your options and answer your questions at an initial free 30-minute consultation. Call us toll free at 877-232-6101 or 208-232-6101 for a free consultation. You can also email us directly at lane@racineolson.com or stop by our office at 201 East Center Street, Pocatello, Idaho 83201. We will answer your questions and help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning problems.

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