Hi, I’m Kent Berk. I’m an attorney at the Scottsdale, Arizona law firm of Berk Law Group, where we handle estate, probate, trusts, and other types of matters here in Arizona.
Sometimes people wonder, what does it take to sign a valid will, or adopt a valid will in Arizona? Adopting a will is not a fundamental legal right. It’s a creature of statute, which means that in order to adopt a valid will, the person has to strictly comply with all the legal requirements.
I’ll explain in this video some of the basic requirements that need to be met in order to adopt a valid will. First of all, the person has to be 18 years of age or older. Obviously, they have to be of sound mind or have what’s called testamentary capacity.
They can’t be acting under undue influence. The will has to be in writing and has to be signed. Those are the basic requirements in order to have a valid will.
There are three different types of wills that are recognized in Arizona. One is a non-self-proved will. That will has to be in writing, signed by the person adopting the will called the testator, or signed by someone at the direction of the testator.
Then it needs to be signed by two witnesses who actually witnessed the testator signing the will. The witnesses have to sign the will as witnesses within a reasonable amount of time when they witnessed the testator’s signature, or the testator’s acknowledgement that that was their signature on the will.
The second type of will is a self-proved will, which is basically the same as a non-self-proved will, but it includes a special affidavit with certain language that’s required by the statute. The two witnesses’ signatures have to be notarized in order for it to be a self-proved will.
The advantages of a self-proved will, unlike a non-self-proved will, is that in order to admit a self-proved will to probate, you don’t have to have the testimony of at least one of the witnesses, whereas, for a non-self-proved will, typically you would have to have one of the witnesses testify that the will that’s being admitted to probate is the genuine will.
The third type of will that’s recognized in Arizona is a holographic will. A holographic will is a will where the material terms, including the terms indicating that the person intended to make a will, have to be in the handwriting of the testator.
The holographic will has to be signed by the testator. If those requirements are met, then the holographic will will be deemed valid, and could be admitted to probate, of course if the other requirements are met — the person’s over 18 and they had testamentary capacity.
There are some other details involved in writing a valid will in Arizona. If you have any questions or you have any disputes involving a will or a trust in Arizona, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. Thank you.