Does a Last Will and Testament have to be notarized to be legal or is having 2 witness signatures sufficient?

Does it matter if the 2 witnesses are family members?

Asked on November 12, 2013 under Estate Planning, Michigan

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

The Will does not need to be notarized, but it needs to be signed by the testator (maker of the Will) in the presence of two disinterested witnesses.  Those two disinterested witnesses also sign in the presence of the testator.

Family members should not be the witnesses because they are not disinterested if they are beneficiaries of the Will as this would present a conflict of interest.  If the requirement of two disinterested witnesses is not satisfied, legal challenges to the Will may arise in the future.  If the entire Will is invalidated, then intestate succession determines inheritance.  Intestate succession means dying without a Will.   If the entire Will is not invalidated, it is possible that the provisions pertaining to the beneficiaries who were witnesses may be invalidated.


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