When creating your estate planning documents, such as a Will, Living Trust, or Power of Attorney, you need to make sure that they meet the legal requirements to make them official so they will be accepted and enforceable if something happens. This is why there are notaries; certain estate planning documents need to be notarized in order to make them valid legal documents.
Why is Notarization necessary?
Some estate planning documents need to be notarized to make them legal so they will be upheld in court. In order to notarize a document, the notary must first verify the identity of the person signing the document. This is often done by showing a valid driver’s license or passport.
The notary must also watch the signer fill out the document that they will be signing. In the case of complex estate planning documents, where you have completed the document beforehand, the notary does not need to watch you create the entire document; they just need to witness you completing sections like the date, your printed name, and your signature. The notary will also be checking that the signer is signing the document of their own free will without coercion. It’s an important step to take to make sure your wishes are upheld and this is only guaranteed if your documents are notarized.
Getting a document notarized is a fraud deterrent method that lets others know that the document can be trusted and is authentic. It assures that, again, the document was signed with the signers’ free will without duress, intimidation, or coercion. The notary’s job is to assess the situation to make sure everything is being done correctly and to protect the personal rights of citizens. The notary’s impartial stance screening, certifying, and keeping a record of the notarization is how the validity of a document is ensured.
Which Estate Planning documents need to be Notarized?
It’s important to note that not every estate planning document needs to be notarized, but getting your documents notarized is a good proactive step to make sure your wishes are followed. The estate planning documents that may require notarization are:
- Trusts—A Trust is a legal entity created by a settlor (also known as a grantor) who owns or “holds” assets under the authority of a person, called the Trustee, for the benefit of a third person or persons, who is/are called the beneficiary.
- Wills—A will, or Last Will and Testament, designates who you want to inherit your assets and more importantly: if you are a parent of children who are minors, who will be the guardian of your children if you pass away before they turn 18.
- Power of Attorney—A Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows you to appoint someone to handle your personal, financial matters in the event you cannot. The person you select to act on your behalf is called your agent.
All of these documents can be created, saved, and accessed at any time with Gentreo’s digital vault. If you don’t have a Trust, Will, or Power of Attorney, you can make your documents in minutes with Gentreo.
Steps to follow to make your documents official:
- Complete the document
- Download and print it
- Get it notarized (and witnessed, if necessary) as you sign it
- Upload it to your Gentreo Digital Family Vault
- Share it with the loved ones who need access to it
Now that we are in a global pandemic, some things have changed in the notarization process, and in some states remote and virtual notarization is now a COVID-safe alternative to in-person notarization. For example, on April 27, 2020, Massachusetts passed a law allowing for the virtual notarization of documents during the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s called remote online notarization and it can be done for the following documents if you reside in Massachusetts under certain conditions:
- Powers of Attorney
- Health Care Proxies
During the COVID pandemic, many people started looking to get their estate plans in order and now is a great time to do so. It’s easier than ever now that you can get your important documents notarized in the safety and comfort of your own home!
How to print your documents when you don't have a home printer:
Even if you don’t have a printer at home, there are still ways you can create these estate planning documents and get them notarized:
- Go to a UPS or FedEx store or other print-and-ship location
- Go to your local library
- Search Google for “where to print documents near me”
There are lots of options out there. Estate planning is for everyone, so be proactive and start your estate planning documents to plan, prepare, and protect what’s most important. Once you have finalized the documents, you can store them in your Gentreo Digital Family Vault and share them with your chosen loved ones.
If you’re taking the time to fill out all the estate planning documents, it’s important to make sure that they’re valid and legally protected. This is why a notary public is so important. With Gentreo you can create and notarize your estate planning documents and have the peace of mind knowing that your wishes will be protected and followed, even after you’re gone.