By writing and signing a will, you specify how you want your property distributed when you die. After death, the law requires wills to be proved in court, a process known as probate. Texas laws do not require wills to be notarized, but notarizing a will may speed up the probate process. Chapter IV of the Texas Probate Code contains the relevant legal provisions for signing and notarizing a will in the state.
Signing a Will in Texas
Section 59 of the Probate Code allows anyone who is at least 18 years old to make a will, if he is of sound mind. The granter of the will should sign it in the presence of two independent witnesses, who should also sign. The witnesses must be older than 14 years and should not be beneficiaries under the will.
A notary public is authorized by the state to administer oaths and certify official documents, including wills. Any Texas resident who is 18 years or over may apply to become a notary public, if he has no serious criminal convictions. Each notary public must maintain a record book, listing the date of each document notarized, the name of the signatory and details of the witnesses. Anyone signing a document before a notary public must appear in person.
Notarizing a Will
Section 59 of the Texas Probate Code provides a form of affidavit, or sworn statement, to be completed by a notary public when notarizing a will. The granter of the will must declare to the notary public, in the presence of his two witnesses, that he willingly signed the will, that he is 18 years or over and that he is in sound mind. The witnesses also declare that they signed as witnesses to the will. The notary public then signs the affidavit and attaches his official seal. The affidavit should be attached to the will so that it can be easily found on the granter's death. The granter can arrange for notarization at any time before he dies.
Read More: How to Get Something Notarized
Once the granter of a will has died, the probate process establishes that the will was properly signed and has not been canceled or revoked. If a notary public’s affidavit is attached to the will, there is no need for the witnesses to attend court during the probate procedure. Notarizing a will, therefore, renders it “self-proving.”
- Texas Constitution and Statutes: Probate Code Chapter IV – Execution and Revocation of Wills
- Texas Young Lawyers’ Association and the State Bar of Texas: To Will or Not to Will
- Texas Secretary of State: Notary Public Educational Information
- Texas Secretary of State: Frequently Asked Questions for Notaries Public
- American Association of Notaries: Texas Notary Public Duties and Practices
Based in the United Kingdom, Holly Cameron has been writing law-related articles since 1997. Her writing has appeared in the "Journal of Business Law." Cameron is a qualified lawyer with a Master of Laws in European law from the University of Strathclyde.