Do the Signatures on a Living Will Have to Be Notarized?

Living wills are specific kinds of legal documents that allow you to detail your desires about health care decisions when you are no longer able to express yourself. All states have laws governing the use of living wills, and significant differences exist between these. While some states require notarization for a living will to be valid, not all do. Seek the advice of a lawyer in your area for the living will requirements of your state.

  1. General Living Will Requirements

    • Anyone can use a living will as long as the person meet's the requirements of the state in which he lives. In general, a living will can only be made in writing and must be signed by the person making it. States also generally require that someone else sign the living will, although requirements about who this person should be differ. Many states require that at least two witnesses sign the living will; others require two witnesses and a notary; and others allow notarization as an alternative to having witnesses sign.

    Notary Requirements

    • Not all states require that a living will be notarized. According to FindLaw.com, living wills in Arizona, Nebraska, South Carolina and West Virginia must be signed by both two witnesses and a notary. Living wills in Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wyoming can be signed by either two witnesses or a notary, meaning notarization is merely optional.

    Revocations

    • Even in states that require notarization of a living will, the person making the will, called the testator, can revoke it at any time without the services of a notary or a witness. As long as the testator is of sound mind and otherwise legally competent, he can inform his physician that he no longer desires to use the living will. He can do this in front of witnesses or not, but no notarization or other requirement must be met.

    Other Advance Directives

    • Living wills are not the only option available to people planning for end-of-life situations. States also allow people to use health care proxies, also known as durable powers of attorney for health care. These documents give another person the right to make medical decisions on your behalf. Like living wills, health care proxies must comply with the laws of the state in which they are made and may or may not need to be notarized. For example, durable powers of attorney in California, Missouri and Nevada must be notarized or signed by two witnesses.

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