Can a deceased person leave behind an unnotarized typed-up Will?

When my grandmother was alive she told her children and I that she made a complete error on her old notarized Will from years ago. Her old Will was a short one sentence incomplete Will that she wanted to void out altogether but unfortunately she forgot to get her new Will notarized, as she left behind her new Will in her bedroom that she signed and dated a few months ago before she passed away. In the new updated Will she left behind it says all of her estate in details goes to her children and I, as a equal split. Can her children and I take the new Will to probate court to void out the old Will?

Asked on August 29, 2018 under Estate Planning, Maryland


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Your grandmother's second Will voids the first as long as it was properly drafted, executed and witnessed. This means that her signature must have been witnessed by 2 adults who are not named as beneficiaries in the Will. Further, a Will need not be notarized. That having been said, many Wills are what is known as "self-proving" which means that are witnessed by 2 people who certify that it was actually signed by the decedent (i.e. "testator"). This is accomplished by a self-proving affidavit that is attached to the Will. Then when the Will is submitted for probate, there is no need to track down the witnesses.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

A will does not need to be notarized, though notarization streamlines probating the will by providing evidence that the person signing the will was in fact the testator (person making the will). However, a will's signing must be witnessed by two people, both over the age of 18, who are not receiving anything under the will, and those witnesses must also sign. If the will was properly signed and witnessed, it should be valid; but if not properly witnessed and signed, it would not be.

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