In all fifty states, a will is considered legal when it has been signed in front of two witnesses. To prove its validity, those witnesses affix their signatures to the document. The witnesses may be required to testify that you were of sound mind and signing of your own free will. What happens, though, if the two witnesses are unable or unwilling to confirm that the will is your own? In that case, a presiding judge can make decisions regarding your assets, which may not correspond with your desires. A self-proving affidavit can alleviate the burden of proving that a will is authentic.
What is a self-proving affidavit?
A self-proving affidavit is a document, separate from your will, that states in legal terms that your Will is yours. The two witnesses who sign your will after witnessing you sign it would also sign the self-proving affidavit. It must be signed in front of a notary public who would notarize the affidavit, confirming its authenticity.
What is the purpose of the affidavit?
When a signed, notarized self-proving affidavit is attached to a will, it signifies to the judge that your witnesses watched you sign. Because your will gives directions from you about how you want your assets distributed after your death, the court needs to verify that it is actually your will. You will no longer be around to verify that it is yours, so the self-proving affidavit proves it on your behalf.
How do I include a self-proving affidavit?
Some notarized wills include a clause that makes them self-proving without including any additional documentation. However, most states don’t require a will to be notarized to be legally binding.
For wills that are not notarized and do not include a self-proving clause, you will need to include the extra form. Check with your state about any specific requirements for the wording of the affidavit. You and the two witnesses who watched you sign your will must sign the affidavit in front of a notary public who will notarize the document. You can find a notary public at most banks and some libraries or post offices.
Is a self-proving affidavit required?
A self-proving affidavit is not required for your will to be legally binding. However, providing the affidavit is a simple way for your family to finalize your wishes after you pass away. If you have taken the time to arrange plans for the things you will leave behind after your death, it is wise to be sure that the court accepts your will without any doubt that it is yours. This is just what a self-proving affidavit accomplishes.
How do I make sure my family can find my will?
Besides ensuring that you have a will written out and that it can be proven as your own, it is important that your family be able to find your will after you pass away. That is where the U.S. Will Registry comes in.
The U.S. Will Registry was founded in 1997 to fill an important gap. The location of your registered will or other end-of-life documents is stored in a database for later access. We provide families and beneficiaries with a means to find lost wills and estate planning documents of those who have passed away.