How to Fill Out a Self-Proving Affidavit

When it comes to estate planning, creating a last will and testament is one of the most important steps an individual can take to protect their loved ones after their death. While valid wills are legally binding documents, there are ways to further solidify them. One method to strengthen a will’s validity is to make it “self-proving.” However, other legal documents, such as trusts, codicils, and powers of attorney, can also be self-proving. A self-proving affidavit is the primary way to make a legal document self-proving.

Self-proving affidavits are necessary for those who want to make their estate planning documents self-proving, including wills. When a will is self-proving, its validity has already been established, making the probate process easier and faster. If you are considering whether to make your will self-proving, there are a few important factors you will need to be aware of. Read on to learn everything you should know about self-proving affidavits, legal requirements by state, and how to create and execute your self-proving affidavit.


Self-Proving Affidavits By State

For those who decide to make their wills self-proving, a self-proving affidavit will typically accompany a will to verify its validity. However, the laws surrounding these affidavits vary depending on the state where the will was created. Most states allow the use of self-proving affidavits. However, Maryland, Ohio, Vermont, and the District of Columbia do not provide this option, requiring all wills to be proven via the probate court after a testator’s death.

On the other hand, some states allow wills to be self-proving without using a self-proving affidavit. There is no need to create a self-proving affidavit in California, Illinois, Indiana, and Nevada. In these states, wills are automatically valid as long as they are signed and witnessed correctly. No additional steps are necessary to prove a will to the probate court. However, if you live in a state other than those listed above, having a self-proving affidavit can be a beneficial option to make your last will and testament ironclad.


Is a Will Valid Without a Self-Proving Affidavit?

In most cases, wills are valid without self-proving affidavits as long as they were created, signed, and witnessed correctly. However, while self-proving affidavits are not required, they can help establish a will’s validity and speed up the probate process. When wills do not have self-proving affidavits, the probate court will need to hear testimony from witnesses who can prove the will’s validity. This can be a time-consuming and expensive ordeal and may create additional stress for the testator’s family during an already difficult time.

Another point is that legal disputes and challenges surrounding wills are common. Suppose anyone decides to contest a will’s validity, such as claims of undue influence or reduced mental capacity on the testator’s part. In that case, the absence of a self-proving affidavit can introduce setbacks. Without this important document, it becomes much more difficult to defend a will’s validity in court, which opens the door for challenges and, ultimately, a drawn-out probate process.

If you live in a state where self-proving affidavits are offered as an estate planning option, it is highly recommended that you take advantage of this useful tool. Below is a short list of some of the most important reasons why you should consider making your will self-proving:

  1. Simplifies the probate process. Establishing the validity of a will with a self-proving affidavit saves time, money, and stress for your loved ones by speeding up and simplifying the probate process.
  2. It makes your will ironclad. With a self-proving affidavit, there is much less room for challenges or disputes, meaning your beneficiaries will receive the assets you intended, and your wishes will be upheld.
  3. Protects privacy. Without a self-proving affidavit, the probate court may need to hear testimony from witnesses, which can result in your personal affairs becoming part of the public record.
  4. Creates peace of mind. We all want to believe that our wishes will be respected after we pass away, and having a self-proving will offer that sense of reassurance. A self-proving affidavit strengthens your will, reducing uncertainty and unease about whether your loved ones will be cared for.

How to Make a Self-Proving Affidavit

If you have a will that you’d like to make self-proving, you will need to obtain and fill out a self-proving affidavit form. It’s important to note that the specific requirements for self-proving affidavits vary by state. However, the process is generally straightforward. To make your will self-proving, follow the steps outlined below:

  1. Obtain and fill out the affidavit form. While self-proving affidavits can be written by hand, it’s generally recommended to use premade forms to simplify the process and ensure all required information is included. These forms can be obtained and filled out via legal documentation platforms such as TrustHandled.
  2. Bring your witnesses to a notary public. Alongside the witnesses to your will, head to a location with a notary public or government official. Certain banks, libraries, and mail carriers often provide notary services. 
  3. Sign and witness the affidavit. Once in front of the notary public, you and your witnesses will be instructed to sign and date the affidavit under oath. The notary public will then officially sign and stamp the document.
  4. Attach and store your affidavit. Finally, attach the self-proving affidavit to your will and keep it stored safely. Creating and distributing copies of your documents to all relevant parties, including your executor, witnesses, and beneficiaries, is also a good idea. 

TrustHandled Makes the Process Quick, Easy, and Efficient

One of the best ways to draft your will, codicil, self-proving affidavit, or other important documents is through specialized online tools like TrustHandled. Designed to streamline the estate planning process, TrustHandled offers a variety of forms and templates to make each step quicker and easier. Avoid costly attorney’s fees and unnecessary in-office meetings using our foolproof guides, reliable customer support, and simplified user interface. Sign up with TrustHandled to get started on your estate plan today with a self-proving affidavit.