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Requirements for a Valid Last Will and Testament

Posted by Zach Dana on June 4, 2019

How to Manage Probate Process

No one likes to think about the eventuality that one day they will no longer be on this earth. However, in order to ensure your loved ones get what you want them to have and there is less frustration after you are gone, it’s important to draw up a last will and testament. These documents are designed to provide guidance regarding your wishes for your property after you’re gone. If you don’t have one, the courts will be in charge of dividing your property and your family members and friends may end up fighting long battles to get what you wanted them to have, or at least what they thought you would want them to have. Before you begin putting together yours, though, it’s important to understand the requirements to ensure everything is done properly and can’t be disputed.

Basic Requirements Under Arizona Law

According to Arizona state laws, there are a few basic requirements that must be met in order to be able to write a last will and testament leaving your belongings to those you care about. These include:

  • Must be at least 18 years old
  • Have an intent to express what you wish to happen to your property after your death
  • Be of sound mind
  • Not be under unfair influence
  • Be able to sign the will or appoint someone to sign it for you

The Three Types of Wills

Arizona recognizes three basic types of wills and testaments, making it important to understand what each one is to help you determine which one is right for your needs. While none of these wills expire, it is still important to evaluate them occasionally to ensure they are still up to date and relevant with your property and your wishes. Changes in your life circumstances can also impact your will, such as the birth of another child, a divorce or a marriage.

Non-Self Proved Wills

A non-self proved will must meet all the following requirements. It must be completed in writing and either signed by the individual or by someone appointed to sign in their stead. In addition, it must also be signed by two witnesses who have either directly witnessed the signing of the will or were present when the signing of the will was acknowledged. The purpose of the witnesses is to attest the will is genuine and true.

Self Proved Wills

A self proved will can be adopted even after the individual has signed it. This means it is an acceptable will, even without the presence of witness signatures that guarantee the will is accurate and genuine. These types of wills can be proven genuine, despite the lack of witness signatures.

Holographic Wills

The final type of will recognized in the state of Arizona is a holographic will. One of the primary differences in this type of will is that it is handwritten. While a witness signature can be helpful, it isn’t necessary because the will can be proven genuine by confirming the handwriting matches that of the individual to whom the will belongs.

Completing a will and testament can be a complicated process and it’s important to ensure it is all done properly to avoid any problems once you are gone. One of the biggest issues many people run into when it comes to their will is when they purchase an online form or one from a store. These wills often have generic wording with blanks to be filled in for listing property and indicating who is to receive what portion of your estate. While some states won’t recognize this type of will as a genuine will and testament, they are often considered valid by Arizona state law under the category of holographic, or handwritten, wills. However, in most cases, it’s still best to hire a lawyer to at least look over your will to ensure no mistakes are made and your wishes are followed to the letter after you’re gone.