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What is a Self-Proving Affidavit for a Will & Why Do You Need It?

When it comes to Estate Planning, including a Self-Proving Affidavit (or Self-Proving Will) can make your life & the lives of your next of kin much easier.

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Patrick Hicks, @PatrickHicks

Head of Legal, Trust & Will

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A Self Proving Affidavit can do several things for your loved ones when the time comes that your Estate Plans needs to come into play. Think of it in terms of a Self Proving Will. The affidavit is a document that helps prove your Will’s validity (in essence, self proving it). Even better, a Self Proving Affidavit can also speed up the often lengthy and stressful probate process.

Still wondering what is a Self Proving Affidavit for a Will? Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of this legal document, and to see how you can create an effective one.  

What Is a Self-Proving Affidavit?

Your Self Proving Affidavit is a signed, sworn statement that’s attached to your Will. While it’s definitely not usually a required component of a Will, having it can relieve stress for your loved ones as they get through the probate process more quickly and with less hassle, which is a huge benefit in and of itself. 

*NOTE: the requirements surrounding a Self Proving Affidavit, including whether or not you need to use one, can differ from state to state. Almost every state allows them, but there are some exceptions. You should research to make sure you’ve properly created yours according to the state law where you live.

A Self Proving Affidavit form is a simple statement added at the end of your Will. Both you, the Will creator (Testator), and those who signed your Will as witnesses, must sign and swear under oath, usually in front of a notary public. It’s these signatures that indicate you were the individuals who signed and witnessed the original Will. Having this document eliminates the need for witnesses having to testify about the validity of your Will after you pass away.

An affidavit is really the best way you can ensure you have a Self Proving Will. In addition to speeding up the probate process and making it easier on your loved ones to administer your estate, a Self Proving Will is another added layer of protection against anyone contesting your Will. It’s simply one more statement that ensures you, as the Testator, signed your Will without any undue influence.

This section should also create the connection between self-proving affidavit and self-proving will in a dedicated paragraph - are they the same thing? Slightly different? Be very explicit in this connection. Another option is to create a separate H3 section with the header “What Does It Mean for a Will to be Self Proving?” (which is from “People Also Ask” for our primary keyword), and include this paragraph that clarifies the relationship between the 2 terms here. If you don’t pull that out as a header, be sure to incorporate that keyword in this paragraph text. 

What Does a Self-Proving Affidavit Look Like?

A Self Proving Affidavit is a very simple form. It’s just a one-page document with a heading “Self-Proving Affidavit.” It has your name, your witnesses’ names, and a legal statement declaring you all verify the Will is legal and valid and that you all witnessed its original signing. 

Generally a Self Proving Affidavit includes information such as: 

  • You are the creator and signer of the Will

  • Your witnesses saw you sign the Will

  • Your witnesses also signed the Will

  • Notarization by a notary public (that includes a stamp with an official seal)

Why Should a Will Include a Self-Proving Affidavit?

There are several benefits to including a Self Proving Affidavit with your Will. After you pass away, your Will needs to be validated in probate court. To begin that process, witnesses generally need to go to the court and sign affidavits stating that they physically were there and saw you sign your Will (and that they themselves, as witnesses, also signed at that time). 

It’s not hard to see how this process can quickly become complicated and challenging. Particularly if your Estate Plan is created many years prior to your passing away, the potential difficulties of witnesses actually being able to show up in court is easy to picture. 

Witnesses themselves could have passed away, or there may now be physical distance between them and where you were living at the time of your death. Getting to probate court can be a burden. Eliminating the need for them to have to go through this additional step can be a huge relief.  

Does a Self-Proving Affidavit Need to Be Notarized?

Yes, a Self Proving Affidavit that verifies a Will needs to be notarized. Notarization is simple: just find the notary public you’ll use, and for a small fee, you and your witnesses can bring the affidavit there to be officially signed and stamped with a seal.  

How Do You Write a Self-Proving Will?

Creating a Self Proving Will through the use of a Self Proving Affidavit is not a difficult process. In just a few quick steps, you’ll have a Will that’s better-safeguarded against being contested or questioned. To add this protection, you just need to: 

  1. Write your Will.

  2. Sign your Will, and have the appropriate number of witnesses as required by your state law sign it. 

  3. Find a Self Proving Affidavit form (be sure it’s acceptable for your state - wording can matter).

  4. Together with your witnesses, go to a notary public. Banks, libraries and UPS stores often offer notary services. 

  5. You and your witnesses will sign the affidavit, under oath, in front of the notary public. He or she will then officially sign and stamp the affidavit. ***Note: you can complete this all at the same time as the original signing of the Will. 

Your Self Proving Affidavit form should be stored together with your Will. Be sure to inform someone you trust about the location of your Estate Planning documents - usually the Executor or Trustee should know their whereabouts. 

Estate Planning can seem confusing and overwhelming, but the more you know, the more you’ll realize how easy the process actually can be. Setting up your Self Proving Affidavit is one more way you can put together a solid Estate Plan that executes everything you envision for your loved ones, even after you’re no longer here.

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