Self-Proving Affidavits: Why Your Will Should Have One
Before defining the term, “self-proving affidavit,” it is important to consider the consequences of not having one in your estate plan. Generally, when a will is prepared using software or similar means which do not necessarily personalize the process, the “testator”, i.e., person making the will, often neglects to consider the probate process itself.
When the testator dies, their original will must be “probated” or filed with the probate court. If there is no self-proving affidavit accompanying the will, the court will often request that either the persons who originally witnessed the execution of the will appear in court to testify as to the will’s validity or that they complete a Proof of Subscribing Witness form, which essentially serves the same purpose. If your will was prepared and executed several years ago, the potential for complications with the probate process with respect to locating the original witnesses is obvious. While this step can be overcome through various additional steps in probate, it simply causes unnecessary and otherwise avoidable burden on the Personal Representative of your estate.
To avoid this dilemma all together, you should consider executing, in addition to your will, a self-proving affidavit, which is a document that goes along with a will that allows the court to easily accept it as the true will of the testator. The affidavit is signed by two witnesses, under penalty of perjury, who observed the testator sign the will and understands the testator’s acknowledgment that it was his/her will.
A self-proving affidavit makes it unnecessary for your witnesses to appear in court and eliminates the additional time and expense incurred by your personal representative in locating the witnesses. This saves both time and money, leaving more of each for your beneficiaries. Moreover, with a self-proving affidavit, the will is given an additional layer of authentication that can help beneficiaries further reduce the time and expense of the probate process.
At the Lowenthal Law Office, all of our wills are prepared with a self-proving affidavit, provided they are advantageous in light of the circumstances. This is a complimentary service offered by our office. To learn more about the process of estate planning, click here. If you are ready to schedule an appointment for a consultation to discuss your estate plan, contact us today.