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A last will and testament is one of the most important documents a person can make in their lifetime. But unlike other documents, if there’s an issue with your will, you won’t have the chance to make a new document and fix it because the problem likely won’t be discovered until after your demise. Therefore, it’s very important to do everything in your power to ensure that your will is legally valid and will be accepted by the probate court without any issues. One of the best ways to do this is to make a self-proving affidavit for your will.
What Is a Self-Proving Affidavit?
A self-proving affidavit is a sworn document signed by the testator of a will and two witnesses. The document declares that you and two witnesses signed your last will and testament in the presence of each other. It also states that to the best knowledge of the witnesses, you were at least 18 years old and of sound mind at the time of making a will, and that you created the document of your own volition. Self-proving affidavits need to be notarized in order to become valid.
Why Do I Need a Self-Proving Affidavit for a Will?
When a person passes away in the United States, their estate has to go through the probate process, even if the deceased person had a will made. Probate is a legal process where a court evaluates the will and appoints the executor of the estate. If you don’t have a self-proving affidavit to accompany your will, one or both witnesses who signed the will could be required to attend a court hearing and attest to your mental state and the validity of your signature on the will in front of a judge.
This is usually very inconvenient since by the time of your death, the witnesses could themselves pass away, move to a different state or country, or become incapacitated. And even if none of this happens, the witnesses will still have to spend time attending a court hearing during a period of grief. Creating a self-proving affidavit together with a will eliminates the need for witnesses to “prove” your will in probate court,and helps expedite the probate process.
Creating a Self-Proving Affidavit
Since self-proving affidavits are usually very simple one-page documents, there’s typically no need to hire a lawyer to make the affidavit for you. There are several services that allow you to make a self-proving affidavit online for a small fee. This option is ideal if you already have a will or you’re in the process of making one. If you haven’t started making a will, your best option is to choose an online will making service that provides a self-proving affidavit in addition to the will without extra charges.
Online Wills With an Included Self-Proving Affidavit
If you haven’t started making a will yet, consider using an online will making service. You can read detailed reviews of online will making services on our website and select the company that best suits your needs. Online wills are an affordable alternative to traditional wills created by lawyers, and they are tailored to your estate, family situation, and state laws. Wills created online are just as legally valid as lawyer-made wills.
While you’re reviewing different will makers, take an extra look at eForms or LawDepot, as these websites include a free self-proving affidavit with every will, saving you time and money.
Create a Separate Self-Proving Affidavit for a Will
If you already have a will that’s ready to be signed, or if you’re in the process of creating a will but you’re using a service that doesn’t include a self-proving affidavit with the will, you can purchase the affidavit separately. Both eForms and US Legal Forms sell self-proving affidavits on their websites for a low price.
Signing a Self-Proving Affidavit
Once you have your self-proving affidavit form ready, the rest of the steps are very simple. To make a self-proving affidavit legally valid, you and your witnesses need to sign the document in front of a Notary Public. Keep in mind that many banks, libraries, and legal clinics have notaries on staff, so locating one should not pose a big problem. The notary will notarize the document, effectively proving or certifying your will. Once the affidavit has been signed and notarized, you need to store it together with your will in a location that your relatives and will executor can easily access.
Do All States Accept Self-Proving Affidavits?
All states generally accept self-proving affidavits during the probate process. However, some jurisdictions, such as Washington D.C., have a specific procedure that has to be followed in order to prove a will. If your state has similar requirements, creating a self-proving affidavit most likely won’t make the probate process go any faster.
Additionally, if your state accepts holographic (handwritten) wills and doesn’t require witness signatures on these wills, you might not need to make a self-proving affidavit.
Concluding Words About Self-Proving Affidavit
A self-proving affidavit is a legal document that helps prove the validity of a last will and testament in the probate court. This document eliminates the need for witnesses to attest to the authenticity of your will in court, which significantly speeds up and simplifies the probate process. In order to become legally binding, a self-proving affidavit needs to be signed by the testator of the will, two witnesses to the will, and a Notary Public. You can make an online will that comes with a free self-proving affidavit using eForms or Law Depot, or you can purchase the affidavit separately from eForms or US Legal Forms.
Getting a self-proving affidavit for your will is not the same as having it notarized. If you’re still asking youself “Does a will need to be notarized?”, you can check out our detailed article on the matter.