In many jurisdictions, a last will and testament (“will”) must contain witness affidavits. These affidavits are for the purpose of creating a “self-proving will.” The Self Proving Will is a standard will but the will also contains an affidavit of the witness or witnesses to the testator’s signing of the will, swearing and affirming to the fact that the will was prepared under the supervision of an attorney.
Affidavits in Proving a Will
The affidavit is signed by the witnesses under the penalty of perjury. The use of the self proving affidavit offers several advantages. First, the use of the self proving will minimizes the chances of a will contest, as the witnesses to the will have sworn, at the time of signing the affidavit, that the will was in fact the testator’s will. In addition, the affidavit allows the probate court to accept the will as valid when the will is filed with the court. Moreover, the affidavit indicates that the will is genuine and conforms with the requirements of a properly executed estate document. Frequently, those jurisdictions which require the self proving affidavit require at least two disinterested individuals to act as witnesses. A disinterested person cannot be the attorney who prepared the document or any person who could potentially inherit anything pursuant to the will. The witnesses who execute the affidavit also have their signatures notarized in order to fully eliminate any doubt as to the witness’s identity.
Self proving wills are wills which include affidavits of witnesses to support the validity of the will. The self proving will is useful in estate planning, as the will reduces the likelihood of a will contest. However, if one wants to ensure that his or her will is legally valid while also minimizing the chance of a will contest, once should consult with an estate planning attorney in order to discuss the various options available.