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Requirements for Execution of Will in Georgia

The Will must be signed by the testator

Under O.C.G.A. § 53-4-20, the testator (who must be at least 14 years old) must sign his or her will. The signature can be a sign, mark, or any name that is intended to authenticate the document as the testator’s will. If the testator is physically unable to sign the will, he or she may ask someone to sign the will on their behalf. We often tell people there are no grades for penmanship. “A will shall be in writing and shall be signed by the testator or by some other individual in the testator’s presence and at the testator’s express direction.”

Two witnesses must sign the Will (usually in two places – last page of Will and the self-proving affidavit discussed in next section)

For the will to be valid in Georgia, it must be properly witnessed – meaning that two competent people who are at least 14 years old must sign the legal document, while in the presence of the testator. (O.C.G.A. § 53-4-20(b) and § 53-4-22(a)).

Holographic wills, which are wills that are written but not signed by two witnesses, are not valid in Georgia. The testator and witnesses sign at the end of the Will.

What else should I do to be sure my Will is properly executed and acceptable to the Probate Court?

While a notary is not required in Georgia, having the document notarized can help speed up or simplify the probate process. You should make your will “self-proving” and a notary is needed for that. A self-proving Will speeds up probate because the court can accept the Will without contacting the witnesses who signed it.

To make your will self-proving, you and your witnesses will go to the notary and sign the Will AND an affidavit that proves who you are and that each of you knew you were signing the will.

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