The loss of a loved one is a difficult and emotional time when decision-making is impaired. If a will was created, family members are forced to embark on a complicated legal process.
Does your will include your signature? If your will isn’t notarized, it may not have to be. While the wills written by attorneys are notarized, the will itself doesn’t have a signature, but the signature is attached to the will as a self-proving affidavit. If a will is presented for probate after the owner of the will is deceased, the will has to be proven or probated.
Proving the validity of a will
In Arizona, a valid will is a document in writing, signed by the individual who intended to create their will (testator) or someone else in their presence by conscious direction of the testator. From there, the document must be signed by at least two witnesses deemed competent and over 18. The one exception in that scenario is a handwritten or holographic will.
Probating a will
Probating a will during the estate planning process means that a witness to the will gives testimony to state government officials that they witnessed the notarizing. If the document is decades old, challenges exist in locating the witness who may have moved away, unable to give testimony, or has already passed away.
In some cases, if all heirs of the will agree, the will can be accepted without being probated. Alternatively, the will can be proven by the testimony of two individuals who did not witness the will being notarized but can accurately identify the signature of the decedent.
An estate planning attorney may help you understand the various requirements in your state and ensure that you can create a legally binding will. This will help ensure that your loved ones carry out your final wishes.