Your will is one of the most important legal documents you will sign during your life. Your will directs how your money and goes upon your death, names a personal representative to administer the estate, names a guardian to care for your minor children upon your death, and names a conservator to manage minor children’s assets. In order to serve these purposes, your will must be valid. In Arizona, a will must meet the following requirements to be valid.
Required Age to Execute a Will
The testator (the person making the will) must be 18 years of age or older and must be of sound mind. The person signing the will must be able to understand the extent of his or her property, know who would inherit his or her property if the testator dies without a will (spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, e.g.), and must understand that by executing a will the testator is specifically naming his or her beneficiaries what specific property each beneficiary should receive.
A Will Must Be In Writing, Signed, and Witnessed.
Arizona statutes must be in writing, signed by the testator, and signed by two witnesses. If the testator is unable to physically sign his or her name, s/he may direct another person to do so for him or her in the testator’s presence. Either each witness must see the testator sign the will or the testator must tell each witness that the signature on the will is the testator’s signature. Each witness must sign the will in the presence of the testator and the other witness.
A holographic will is a will that the testator wrote in the testator’s own handwriting. For such a will to be valid in Arizona, the material provisions in the will must be in the testator’s handwriting and the testator must have signed the will. Material provisions are provisions that name beneficiaries and the property they receive. The holographic will must also indicate that the testator intends and wants to dispose of his or her property with the holographic will. A holographic need not be signed by witnesses, but it can be signed by witnesses.
The witnesses must be generally competent. Although an interested person (i.e., someone named in the will) may sign as a witness, it is better practice to not have interested witnesses.
Wills can be "self-proving" in Arizona. If a will is self-proving and the authenticity and no one challenges the authenticity of the will, the probate court may accept the will in informal probate. Since the probate court automatically accepts a self-proven will, witnesses to a self-proven will do not have to testify. A will is self-proving if the testator and witnesses affirm the will’s authenticity in an affidavit they sign in front of a notary, and the notary signs and stamps the affidavit, which is either part of the will or attached to the will.