A Beginner’s Guide To A Self-Proving Affidavit: By Legal Experts
Apr 23, 2021 10:00 AM EDT
● Did you know that if you have a self-proving affidavit to support your will, the entire process becomes easier?
● Are you aware that a self-proving affidavit can help push your will through probate in a much speedier fashion?
● Have you noted down the fact that to make a self-proving affidavit, the witnesses and you need to sign it and get it notarized?
In recent years, the number of will makers that are opting for a self-proving affidavit has gone up remarkably. Part of the reason is that legal experts recommend will makers to create one so that the court does not have to manually call on the witnesses to validate the will.
In this article, we are going to shed some light on what exactly is a 'Self-Proving Affidavit'. We are going to look at its major advantages and understand why in some cases, becomes such an important legal document.
Self-Proving Affidavit: Meaning and Definition
According to legal experts, a self-proving affidavit is a notarized legal document that is signed by the will writer or testator in the presence of two witnesses.
The two witnesses also need to sign the self-proving affidavit. Their signature is proof of the fact that the will writer was not subjected to any undue pressure or stress to make and sign the will. The important thing you need to pay attention to is the fact that the witnesses are under oath when they sign the self-proving affidavit.
One important clarification should be made at this stage. A self-proving affidavit is not a legal necessity. In other words, every will does not have to be supplemented by a self-proving affidavit. However, legal experts recommend this because of one simple reason-
It helps saves time!
Whenever a court wants to determine the validity or authenticity of the will, it calls on the witnesses manually in court. This takes up a lot of time, especially if the witnesses are busy themselves. A self-proving affidavit validates the will and the witnesses without them having to physically come into the court.
How does a Will Work and what is the Role of the Self-Proving Affidavit?
Someone who prepares a will does so with the intention that their assets be distributed among their children. If such a person passes away and does not have a self-proving affidavit, then the Probate Court will call on testimonies and witnesses before allowing for the distribution of the assets.
What this does is unnecessarily stretch the period before which the heirs of the deceased will be able to get their hands on the assets. This process is usually done by State Laws and varies from state to state.
It should be pointed out that nearly all states of the American Union permit a self-proving affidavit. The exception to the norm in the state of Washington D.C.
Here, a proper court procedure is required to prove a will, even if you have a self-proving affidavit. Sure, it will help speed up the probate process, but the manual verification of the witnesses takes place.
How to Create a Self-Proving Affidavit?
Unlike a Will that can stretch for hundreds of pages, a self-proving affidavit is just a paragraph long! This means that it is a very short legal document that does not need to be extremely big or lengthy.
When you are creating a will, you will need to work with a legal attorney that specializes in such matters. However, when it comes to a self-proving affidavit, you do not need legal experts to help you. You can create it all by yourself.
Here are the four steps that you need to follow to create your self-proving affidavit.
- Download the Self-Proving Affidavit from the website of your state. There are different formats in the forms.
- Request both the witnesses who are going to sign on the self-proving affidavit to be present.
- Once the signature is done, take the self-proving affidavit to a notary and get it notarized.
- Attach a copy of the Self-Proving Affidavit with your Will and store both of them together.
Once you are done with the above steps, you need to store the self-proving affidavit with the will in a safe place. Bear in mind that the executor of the will should be aware of the location where you have stored both these documents.
Major Advantages of a Self-Proving Affidavit according to Legal Experts
Most senior legal experts think that proving a will is not an easy task. It is a very cumbersome process that can drag on for a very long time. This is truer especially when the will is a contested one.
However, a self-proving affidavit can make the task of proving a will much easier. Here are some of the major advantages-
● The authenticity of the will has already been proven as the witnesses have signed on the self-proving affidavit under oath. Any lies automatically lead to perjury.
● Having a self-proving affidavit means that the introductory court dates can be skipped altogether by the family members of the deceased.
● Additionally, the heirs can proceed directly to Probate Court and save on all the legal fees and times.
● For witnesses too, this becomes a far easier process as they do not have to take extra time off to be in court proceedings.
● Ultimately, a self-proving affidavit saves everyone from a lot of stress, anxiety, and harassment issues.
● On the off-chance that the original witnesses are dead, a probate court judge can always refer to the self-proving affidavit and allow for the distribution of the assets.
The Final Word
The best part about a self-proving affidavit is the fact that it helps in removing any uncertainties in the legal process. If the will is uncontested, problems do not arise.
However, if there is a contestation, a self-proving affidavit can make for a speedy trial. It is very simple and easy to create a self-proving affidavit. You can easily get it done online as well.
If you have any specific questions in mind regarding a self-proving affidavit, let us know in the comments section below. We will request our legal experts to answer all your doubts and queries,