Thursday, February 11, 2010

Types of Wills Recognized by the State of Arizona

The Arizona Code recognizes holographic wills, attested wills, and self-proved wills. To be valid, a will must comply with the execution formalities of either a holographic will or an attested will. A holographic will does not require witnessing, but it must be signed by the testator, and the material provisions (which would include the identity of the testator's property and the beneficiaries chosen to receive that property) must be in the testator's handwriting.

An attested will must be in writing and signed by the testator and at least two witnesses. The will does not have to be signed by the testator in the presence of the witnesses, and the witnesses do not have to sign in the presence of the testator or each other. However, the testator must then tell the witnesses that the signature on the document is, indeed, the testator's or that the document constitutes the testator's will.

Most attorneys continue to execute an attested will with greater formality by having the testator sign in the presence of two witnesses, who then sign the will in the testator's presence at his or her request, and in the presence of each other. This helps prevent any question about the validity of the will if it must be probated in another state.

The advantage of a self-proved will is most evident in the event of a will contest. Formalities of execution are conclusively presumed if a self-proved will is contested in a formal testacy proceeding. An attested will may be self-proved either at the time of the original execution or later. Regardless of when an attested will is made self-proved, the process involves an acknowledgment by the testator and affidavit of the witnesses before a notary public. There are statutory requirements regarding the content of the language that must be included at the end of the will if it is to be self-proved.


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