Skip to Content

Do Massachusetts wills need to be notarized?

In Massachusetts, there are no laws stating that a last will and testament needs to be notarized to be considered valid. While notarization is not required, it can still be beneficial to get a will notarized in order to help prove its authenticity if it gets contested later on. Here is a quick overview of the requirements for a valid will in Massachusetts:

  • The testator (person making the will) must be 18 years or older and of sound mind.
  • The will must be signed by the testator in the presence of two or more competent witnesses.
  • The testator must signify to the witnesses that the document is their will.
  • The witnesses must sign the will in the presence of the testator and each other.

As long as these requirements are met, a will is considered legally valid in Massachusetts even without notarization. However, getting a will notarized can provide some important benefits:

  • It establishes evidence that the will was actually signed and executed on the date stated.
  • It can help deter claims that the will is fraudulent or was signed under duress.
  • It provides an additional impartial witness who can attest to the signing of the will if necessary.

While optional, notarization provides an extra layer of authentication and protection against potential disputes over the will’s validity. Even though not required in Massachusetts, many legal experts still recommend getting a will notarized.

Should You Get Your Massachusetts Will Notarized?

Here are some of the top reasons why you may want to get your Massachusetts will notarized even though it’s not required:

Deters Challenges to the Will

Having a will notarized makes it much more difficult for disgruntled family members or others to claim the will is not valid. The official notarization provides documented proof that you signed the will of your own free will. This can help deter most claims that the will is not authentic.

Validates the Signing and Witnessing Process

When a notary watches you sign your will and verifies your identity, it proves you followed all required formalities. The notarization confirms the proper signing and witnessing took place on the date stated on the will. This prevents claims that you didn’t know what you were signing or that the will wasn’t created according to legal standards.

Provides an Impartial Witness

Notaries are neutral third-party witnesses who attest to the signing of a will. Having an impartial notary involved lessens the chances of undue influence from a beneficiary who is also serving as a witness. The notary has no personal interest in the terms of your will.

May Speed Up Probate

A notarized will is more likely to be accepted by a probate court without delay or dispute. The court will have more confidence that your final wishes were recorded properly in a valid will. This can help speed up the probate process.

Low Cost to Notarize

Notarizing a will is relatively inexpensive. Many banks and legal offices offer notary services for free or for less than $20 in Massachusetts. Adding notarization is a low-cost way to help protect your will from potential contests down the road.

How to Get a Will Notarized in Massachusetts

Getting your will notarized in Massachusetts is a very straightforward process:

  1. Print out the final copy of your will to be notarized.
  2. Sign the will in front of two adult witnesses, stating it is your last will and testament.
  3. Have the witnesses sign the will in your presence and in each other’s presence.
  4. Take the signed will to a notary public along with your photo ID.
  5. Show the notary your ID to verify your identity.
  6. Sign the notary’s journal or record book entry for your will.
  7. The notary will then complete their notarial certificate on your will.

Be sure to use an ink color other than black for your signature, as black can be difficult to authenticate. Once the notarization is complete, store the will in a safe but accessible place and consider giving copies to your executor or lawyer. Notify your loved ones of the location of your will so it can be easily found upon your death.

Where to Get a Will Notarized in Massachusetts

There are many convenient options for getting a will notarized in Massachusetts:

Banks and Credit Unions

Most banks and credit unions have a notary public on staff who can notarize documents for customers. Some will do it for free while others charge a small fee. Many bank notaries are available during normal business hours.

Legal and Lawyer Offices

Ask your estate planning lawyer if they have an in-house notary who can witness your will signing. Other law firms may also offer notary services that are open to the public. There is often a small fee involved.

Mail and Shipping Stores

UPS stores, FedEx locations, and other private mail service stores typically have notaries available. The cost is usually under $10 per signature. These stores offer the convenience of weekend and evening notarization services.

Mobile Notary Services

You can request an appointment with a mobile notary who will travel to your home or other location to notarize your will. Mobile notaries are especially helpful for seniors or homebound individuals. Costs vary but are often between $25-$75.

Town or City Hall

Many local municipal offices will have a notary public available to residents during normal business hours. Some towns offer notary services free of charge as a courtesy.

Massachusetts Will Notarization Form and Template

Below is a sample notary block that should be included on a Massachusetts will under the testator and witness signatures:

On this ____ day of ___________, 20____, before me personally appeared _________________________, to me known to be the Testator(s) described in and who executed the foregoing instrument, and acknowledged that they executed the same as their free act and deed.

(Official Notary Signature & Seal)
Notary Public
My commission expires: ______________________

The testator and witnesses should sign the will first. The notary will then complete their section and affix their official notary seal. Be sure to leave enough blank space for the notary’s stamp or seal on the document. Using this template can make the notarization process easier and ensure you have the proper notarial wording.

Can a Notary Be a Witness in Massachusetts?

In Massachusetts, a notary public is not permitted to act as one of the required two witnesses to a will. The notary’s role is to serve as an impartial validator, not as a witness. Acting as both a notary and a witness on the same will constitutes a conflict of interest and can jeopardize the validity of the will.

If the notary is also named as a beneficiary of the will, that would provide them even more incentive to influence or exert pressure on the testator. This is why Massachusetts law mandates that the two witnesses must be disinterested parties and cannot be beneficiaries under the will they are witnessing.

Therefore, it is best practice to keep the notary and witness roles separate. Have two impartial witnesses sign the will first, and then take the signed will to a different notary to have it notarized. This strict separation helps to deter claims of undue influence and uphold the integrity of the will.

Do Witnesses Have to Sign in Front of the Notary?

In Massachusetts, the two required witnesses must sign the will in the presence of each other and the testator, but do not have to sign it again in front of the notary.

The notarization serves solely to validate that the testator personally appeared before the notary and verified their signature on the document. The witnesses have already fulfilled their legal role by observing the testator sign the will and then adding their own signatures.

As long as the witnesses properly sign and date the will in the testator’s presence, their task is complete. The witnesses do not need to be present when the testator subsequently has a notary acknowledge their signature. The notary’s signature only applies to the testator, not the witnesses.

Therefore, it is fine in Massachusetts for the witnesses to sign the will first, and for the testator to take the witnessed will to a notary later without the witnesses present. The witnesses’ signatures will still be binding. Having fewer people present often makes getting a will notarized easier and more convenient.

Can a Beneficiary of the Will Serve as a Witness in Massachusetts?

In Massachusetts, someone who is named as a beneficiary in a will is prohibited from also serving as one of the two required witnesses to that will. This important restriction is meant to prevent undue influence by beneficiaries over the testator.

If an interested party who stood to inherit under the will was allowed to witness it, that would give them strong incentive to try exerting pressure on the testator. Or they may witness the signing in a way that would make the will easier to dispute later when it comes time to receive their inheritance.

To avoid even the appearance of undue influence, Massachusetts law specifically disqualifies any beneficiary of the will – or their spouse – from being able to act as a witness. If a beneficiary does wrongly serve as a witness, that typically renders the will invalid in the state.

Therefore, you should always choose disinterested parties with no stake in your will to serve as the two required witnesses. Using impartial witnesses helps ensure there can be no claims of undue influence. This provides maximum legal protection for your will.

Common Questions About Massachusetts Will Notarization

Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about getting a will notarized in Massachusetts:

Why shouldn’t I just use two witnesses without a notary?

You can certainly have a valid will in Massachusetts with just two witness signatures and no notary. However, adding a notary provides additional protection against disputes and forgery claims that may arise down the road. The small cost for notarization is worth it for the extra legal security.

What identification does the notary need to see?

Massachusetts notaries are required to verify your identity using a current government-issued photo ID such as a driver’s license or passport. Make sure to bring your ID to the notary appointment.

Do all the pages of the will need to be notarized?

No, normally only the signature page needs to be notarized. However, it’s smart to initial each page of the will in the presence of the witnesses before having the final page notarized. This deters claims of page substitutions.

Does my notary have to be from Massachusetts?

No. Notaries commissioned in any U.S. state can notarize your will in Massachusetts. The notarization just needs to be performed within Massachusetts state borders.

Can I use a remote online notary?

Massachusetts does allow remote online notarization using real-time audio-visual conferencing. This may be an option if in-person notarization is difficult. However, traditional in-person notarization is still the most preferred method for a will.

Is a self-proving affidavit better than notarization?

A self-proving affidavit essentially combines notarization with witness statements into one document signed at the will execution. This can provide stronger evidence if the witnesses become unavailable. However, a simple notarization still offers good protection at lower cost.

Can I update my will after it’s notarized?

Yes, you can update, amend, or draft a new will at any time. Any change will require the whole process of proper signatures by you and two witnesses again. You can choose to have any new will renotarized as well.


While not strictly required in order for a will to be legally valid, getting your Massachusetts last will and testament notarized provides substantial benefits. The small cost and minimal effort are worth it. Notarization adds an official fraud deterrent, proves your competency, and makes it much harder for the will to be challenged later on. Locating a convenient notary in Massachusetts is easy using options like banks, legal offices, shipping stores, town halls, and mobile notaries. Consider adding notarization for important legal protections and peace of mind.