Pennsylvania laws determine what a person must do to create a valid last will and testament. A testator, the person creating a will, is not required to notarize the will for it to be valid, even though notarization is still often used. Also, witnesses who sign a will may have to affirm that they witnessed the testator's signature in some situations. Always seek the advice of a qualified attorney if you need help with a Pennsylvania will.
Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes section 2501 states that anyone in Pennsylvania who is at least 18 years of age and of sound mind can create a valid will. The person making the will can only make it in writing; Pennsylvania does not allow oral wills. Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes section 2504.1 states, however, that a person can make a will that complies with the laws of a different state, even an oral will, as long as the testator was domiciled in the state at the time of execution of the will or at the time of his death.
Unlike the laws of many other states, Pennsylvania law does not require witnesses to sign a will. Pennsylvania requires only that the testator sign the will at the end of the document. If the testator is not able to sign his name, he can use a mark instead of a signature, but, according to Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes section 2502, the making of such a mark must be witnessed by two competent people.
Proving the Will
Once a testator dies, anyone with the will or a copy of the will must present it to the Register of Wills office so the court can determine if it is valid. At least two witnesses must appear before the court to identify the testator's signature on the will. These witnesses can also appear before a notary and affirm the same.
A will can also be made self-proven in Pennsylvania. A self-proven will is one that is accompanied by an affidavit that identifies the will, the testator's signature and the witnesses who testify that the testator signed the will. No will has to be self-proven or notarized, but a testator that ensures a self-proven affidavit accompanies the will makes it easier for the court to accept the will as valid. Also, if a self-proving affidavit accompanies the will, the witnesses do not have to appear before the court to prove that the will bears the testator's signature.