The short answer is sometimes. Decades ago, it was a common requirement for one or both witnesses to be located in order to admit a will for probate. Today that’s not the case. Under Georgia law, if two witnesses and a notary are used, and the witnesses and a notary sign a form called a “self-proving affidavit”, the witnesses typically do not need to be located.
There are, however, some exceptions. Following are some of the most common exceptions for when a witness to the will needs to be located:
- The original will cannot be found and a copy is offered for probate. In that case, at least one of the witnesses must be located.
- The will lacks a self-proving affidavit. If the will is signed by two witnesses and a notary, but lacks the Georgia self-proving affidavit form, or if the form is an out of state form, it’s likely at least one of the witnesses must be located.
- There is some question to the validity of the will. If there are questions raised about the execution of the will, whether a will is an original or a copy, or some other issue about the will, it’s likely that one or more of the witnesses will need to be found.
As you can see, it’s not as common now to have to locate a witness as it was in the past, but it still happens. If you believe locating a witness will be an issue, you should speak with an estate planning attorney. It’s better to address the issue before a person passes away. Call me, Sarah White, Marietta estate planning attorney at 678-453-6490. I am happy to look at your will and give my opinion on whether a new one is required. Call me today or email me at email@example.com to learn more.