Notarizing Wills in New York: What White Plains Apostille & Mobile Notary Will and Won’t Do

Notarizing Wills in New York: What White Plains Apostille & Mobile Notary Will and Won’t Do

If you need a will notarized in New York, White Plains Apostille & Mobile Notary is here to help. However, it’s important to understand the legal requirements for a valid will in New York and what our role is as notaries. Below we outline key information about the will execution process and how we can assist you.

What You Need to Know About Wills in New York Under New York’s Estates, Powers and Trusts Law (EPTL §3-2.1), for a will to be validly executed it must be:

  1. In writing
  2. Signed at the end by the testator (person making the will)
  3. Signed in the presence of at least two attesting witnesses OR the testator must acknowledge their signature to each witness
  4. The testator must declare to the witnesses that the document is their will
  5. The witnesses must sign the will within 30 days

Importantly, a will does not actually require notarization to be legally valid in New York. However, most wills include a self-proving affidavit which does require notarization. This affidavit, signed by the witnesses, helps streamline the probate process later on. As the court noted in Matter of Pilon’s Will, a self-proving affidavit “creates a presumption that the will was properly executed and constitutes prima facie evidence of the facts therein attested to by the witnesses.”

How White Plains Apostille & Mobile Notary Can Help Here’s what we can do to facilitate the proper execution of your will:

  1. Travel to you, at a time and place convenient for you and your witnesses, to notarize the self-proving affidavit included with most wills. We will notarize the signatures of the witnesses swearing that they properly witnessed the will execution.
  2. Provide general information about the requirements for a validly executed will in New York, to ensure you don’t make common mistakes that could invalidate your will. For example, we’ll make sure:
  • You have at least two eligible witnesses who are not beneficiaries (EPTL § 3-2.1)
  • The witnesses view you signing the will or hear you acknowledge your signature (In re Pulvermacher’s Will)
  • You declare to the witnesses that the document you’re signing is your will (In re Turell’s Will)
  • The witnesses sign the will and self-proving affidavit within 30 days (EPTL § 3-2.1)
  1. Notarize the self-proving affidavit signed by the witnesses at any point after the will is properly executed. It doesn’t have to happen the same day. The witnesses can appear before us later to have their signatures on the affidavit notarized. We charge a flat fee for this service, as we recognize there is always a possibility we could later be subpoenaed to testify about the will execution ceremony.

What We Won’t Do As notaries, we are not permitted to provide legal advice. Here are some things White Plains Apostille & Mobile Notary cannot do:

  1. Draft or help prepare the content of your will. You should consult an estate planning attorney for assistance actually writing the will.
  2. Determine if your will is legally valid beyond the aspects we directly witness during the signing and notarization. For example, we cannot assess your testamentary capacity or confirm a will isn’t the product of fraud or undue influence. As the court held in In re Kumstar’s Will, these are issues for the probate court to decide.
  3. Notarize a will signing that doesn’t conform with New York law. If the required formalities under EPTL § 3-2.1 are not followed (e.g. an insufficient number of witnesses, the testator doesn’t declare the document is their will, etc.), we will not be able to notarize the self-proving affidavit as we cannot attest that the will was properly executed.
  4. Offer an opinion on if your will achieves your estate planning objectives. Consult with an attorney to ensure your will disposes of your property as intended. As Matter of Andrew’s Will emphasizes, the testator’s intent is paramount and improperly drafted language can lead to will contests.
  5. Guarantee your will won’t be contested. A self-proving affidavit helps facilitate the probate process but doesn’t completely insulate a will from a contest proceeding. New York law allows wills to be challenged on various grounds like lack of capacity, undue influence, fraud or forgery.

The Bottom Line In summary, White Plains Apostille & Mobile Notary can notarize a self-proving affidavit for your New York will and provide helpful information about the execution requirements, pursuant to statutes and caselaw. However, we cannot legally draft your will, assess its validity beyond what we witness, or guarantee it won’t be contested. Think of us as an optional final step in the process to make probating your will easier – but not a substitute for sound legal counsel in preparing this important document. Contact White Plains Apostille & Mobile Notary today to learn more about our convenient flat fee mobile notary services for wills!

Did you know that in New York, to prove abandonment of a spouse under the statute, the departure must be unjustified and without the consent of the other spouse? The burden to establish abandonment remains at all times upon those asserting it. (In re Maiden’s Estate, 31 N.E.2d 889, 284 N.Y. 429, 430 (1940))

Did you know that a spouse who solemnizes a ceremonial marriage to another person followed by open and continuous cohabitation and the birth of children is considered clear and convincing evidence of abandonment of the prior spouse under New York law? (In re Goethie’s Will, 161 N.Y.S.2d 785, 787, 9 Misc.2d 906, 908 (1957))

Did you know that in New York, if a spouse obtains a divorce, annulment or dissolution of the marriage in another state that is not recognized as valid under New York law, that spouse is disqualified from inheriting under intestacy from the estate of the deceased spouse? (EPTL §5-1.2)

Did you know that under New York law, once a child is legally adopted, they are treated the same as a natural born child of the adoptive parents for inheritance purposes and are cut off from inheriting from their natural parents? (Bourne v. Dorney, 171 N.Y.S. 264, 268, 184 A.D. 476, 481 (2d Dep’t 1918); DeMund v. LaPoint, 647 N.Y.S.2d 662, 665, 169 Misc.2d 1020, 1025 (1996))

Did you know that a spouse who hardens their resolve to terminate the conjugal relationship with the other spouse and establishes a continuing relationship with another person is considered to have abandoned their spouse under New York law? (Matter of Estate of Baldo, 620 N.Y.S.2d 602, 604, 210 A.D.2d 848, 850 (3rd Dept. 1994))

Did you know that under New York law, compulsory payment of child support for a short period under court order does not constitute resumption of the parental relationship for purposes of a parent inheriting from their deceased child’s estate? (Matter of Daniels’ Estate, 275 A.D. 890, 90 N.Y.S.2d 26 (4th Dep’t 1949))

Did you know that in New York, a beneficiary who murders the decedent is prohibited from collecting any inheritance from the decedent’s estate, but a mentally ill person who murders the decedent will not be disqualified from inheriting? (Riggs v. Palmer, 115 N.Y. 506, 22 N.E. 188 (1889); In re Wirth’s Estate, 59 Misc.2d 300, 298 N.Y.S.2d 565 (1969))

Did you know that under New York law, a step-child of the decedent who has not been legally adopted cannot inherit from the decedent’s estate, and the only way for a step-child to inherit is if they were formally adopted by the decedent? (In re Marquet’s Will, 178 N.Y.S.2d 783, 784, 13 Misc.2d 958, 959 (1958))