After a person dies, the will that he or she left will be put forward for probate so that the proceedings can begin. However, it cannot just be taken for granted that the will was written by the person in question. It must be “proved.”

In this process, the witness of the will must be present to confirm that the will is valid and written by the person in question. The difficultly that can come about, especially in wills that were written a long time ago, is that it may be impossible to track down the witness, or the witness may have passed away him or herself.

What happens when a witness to the will cannot be traced?

Depending on the state, there are a variety of solutions to this, but the process can be lengthy, costly and complex. In some cases, the will can be “proved” by two separate people who were not witnesses; however, in other situations this may not be possible. Self-proving wills are a good way to ensure that a complicated process to find a witness never needs to happen.

How can wills be self-proved?

Notarization is a way to self-prove a will. In some cases, the signatures of the witnesses are the only part of the will that needs to be notarized, and in other cases, the signature of the testator needs to be notarized in addition.

It is not necessary to notarize a will; however, it is a good idea if you do not want your will to rely on a witness alone in order to prove it.

Source: The Balance, “Do Wills Have to Be Notarized?,” accessed Dec. 01, 2017