If you wish to serve as the executor of an estate, you certainly hope to resolve the legal affairs as efficiently as possible. The first thing you should do as a proposed executor is locate the original will and ensure all of the pages are accounted for. The signature pages are obviously quite important. We are often asked by proposed executors whether a will which was not notarized is valid in Pennsylvania.
Is an unnotarized will valid in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania law states that a will must be in writing and signed by the deceased person. If your loved one left a will, there are a few sections in the signature pages to carefully review.
When a will is presented for probate, two witnesses must declare under oath that the decedent’s signature is authentic. This is because Pennsylvania law requires that the will be “proved by the oaths or affirmations of two competent witnesses.” This can be accomplished by the witnesses appearing at the Register of Wills attesting to the signature or by presenting a notarized acknowledgment and affidavit. Obviously, it is easier to present the notarized affidavits of witnesses rather than requesting witnesses to appear in person.
However, there is no requirement in Pennsylvania that the will be notarized by the testator (the person making the will) in order for it to be valid. So long as the will is in writing, signed by the testator, and two witnesses attest to the signature, the basic requirements have been met.
As a probate attorney to estate executors, I help settle estates efficiently and reduce stress. If you know someone faced with a probate process or roadblocks to a property sale, please have them contact us for a free evaluation at:
Phone: (215) 918-4242
If you are not quite ready for a consultation, download our probate handbook HERE. We’ll send you helpful probate guides and resources so you know how to handle the estate.