What number of witnesses are necessary and must a Notary Public must be an attorney?

I have drafted my own simple Will prior to going (Monday, next week) for surgery. I would like to have it executed and witnessed (correctly) but I have had differing responses from Notary Public at banks as to how many witnesses are required and whether notarization must be by an attorney.

Asked on July 24, 2012 under Estate Planning, New York


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

A Notary does not have to be an attorney.  Many attorneys are notaries though becuase it is a privilege that comes with the license.  As for witnesses, New York’s section of the law on this  - EPTL section 3-2.1 - sets out the statutory requirements as to witnesses.   New York requires two attesting witnesses. New York has what is called a publication requirement that resilts in a formal execution ceremony. At the request of the testator, each witness must sign the Will and thereby affirm that the testator knows that he or she is making a Will, and that the testator has declared the document being signed as the testator’s last Will.  You as testator must sign the Will in the presence of the witnesses, but the witnesses need not sign in each others’ presence. I urge you to seek legal help.  Good luck with everything. 

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