I just filled out an online auto-will-writer. When it printed out it said that I had to sign it in the presence of three people and a notary. That's four people I have to find and hire just to attend my signing of my will. Is this really necessary?
2 Answers from Attorneys
A will is generally not a good candidate for a computer generated 'answer some questions and out pops your will' document. There are simply too many factors based on your particular circumstances - I am certain some things you may have wanted in there aren't and because you are not an attorney you will have no idea. You most likely could have had a licensed attorney draft your will for less and you would have had the added benefit of it being tailored to your specific needs as well as someone to turn to if for some reason there were problems with it. In any event, yes you need three witnesses. It is preferable that your witnesses be family members' or friends who are not beneficiaries of your will. That way if their testimony ever becomes necessary, they may possibly be easier to track down. You really should not 'hire' strangers to witness your will - although I suppose you could. As to the notary, had you hired an attorney, that would most likely have been included in the fee. Now you have to find your own. However, the cost is nominal at $5 per notarized signature.
I agree fully with Ms. Houser. People don't realize they pay almost as much for those quickie online things as they do for an attorney and you will be shocked how many times the wills are deficient.
In any event, also keep in mind that most banks give free notary services for their account holders.