Are Out-of-State Wills Valid in Arizona?
When you move to a new state, there are many important things you need to update, like your driver’s license and your voter’s registration. But one thing that people often forget to update after a move is their estate plan.
Although out-of-state wills typically are valid in Arizona, it’s still a good idea to meet with an experienced attorney and go over your estate plan to make sure it meets your new state’s requirements. At Phelps LaClair, we help new Arizona residents ensure that they have valid wills and comprehensive estate plans. If you recently moved to Arizona, you may need to make some changes.
Do You Need to Make a New Will If You Move?
Most wills are valid across state lines, so you typically do not need to draft a whole new will when you move. However, when you’re moving out of state, it is a good time to look over your will with a professional and make any necessary updates.
For instance, there may be new children in your life that haven’t been included in your will. Or the person you named as executor may no longer be able to fulfill that role now that you’ve moved. An estate planning attorney can also help you understand whether your current type of will is actually valid according to Arizona law.
What Types of Out-of-State Wills Are Valid in Arizona?
If your will is in writing, signed by yourself or in your name by someone else in your presence and with your consent, and signed in front of two witnesses, then it is a non self-proved will. After your death, your witnesses are required to appear in court to give a testimony about watching you sign the will. The Arizona court will then deem your will valid.
Because it can take a while to locate the witnesses and have them come to court, some people choose to create a self-proved will. In order for the will to be self-proved, the witnesses must sign an affidavit stating that they watched you sign the will, and the affidavit must be signed in front of a notary public.
The affidavit allows the will to prove its validity itself, eliminating the need for the witnesses to appear in court, and speeding up the process of settling your estate. Witnesses of a non self-proved will can sign an affidavit at any time after watching you sign your will. As long as the affidavit was notarized, your non self-proved will can become self-proved.
Arizona does not accept verbal wills—your will must be in writing in order to be accepted by the court. Some states, including Arizona, will accept handwritten wills as long as they are in the person’s own handwriting. Handwritten, or “holographic” wills do not require any witnesses in order to be valid.
However, just because this type of will is valid doesn’t mean it’s the best choice. Handwritten wills can be difficult to read and make it harder for your executor to interpret your wishes. If you currently have a holographic will, it’s a good idea to look it over with an experienced estate planning attorney and draft it into a typed will that accurately reflects your wishes and is free of errors.
As of 2019, Arizona also accepts electronic wills, as long as they meet certain legal requirements. In order to be considered valid in Arizona, electronic wills must:
- Be created and kept in an electronic record
- Include your electronic signature, which can be made by someone else as long as it is in your presence and by your direction
- Include the electronic signatures of the two witnesses who watched you sign the will (they must electronically sign the will within a reasonable period of time after witnessing you sign the will, and must also acknowledge that they watched you sign it)
- State the date on which you and the two witnesses electronically signed the will
- Include a copy of your valid ID
An electronic will can also be self-proved as long as it:
- Includes the electronic signature and seal of a notary public
- Dictates a qualified person to hold custody of the electronic will
- Is under the custodian’s exclusive control at all times.
Review Your Will with an Arizona Estate Planning Attorney
If you’ve recently moved to Arizona but haven’t yet updated your estate plan, it’s time to meet with the team at Phelps LaClair. We’ll ensure that your will is valid and that your estate plan reflects all of your current wishes. Call us at 480-892-2488 today to schedule a consultation in Mesa, Chandler, or one of our other convenient Arizona locations.
Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (9/21/2022). Photo by Morgan Lane on Unsplash