Requirements for a Valid Will in Arizona
Have you drafted your will yet? If you have one, when was the last time you made an update? Many factors can invalidate a will, such as moving to a new state or changes in state laws. Whether you still need to draft your first will or you already have one, it’s important to stay up to date on the last will and testament requirements in Arizona to ensure that your will is valid when the time comes.
The Phelps LaClair team can help you design a successful estate plan with valid legal documents that cover all of your needs. Here’s everything you need to know about the requirements for a valid will in Arizona.
Arizona Last Will and Testament Requirements
According to Arizona law, several requirements must be met in order for your will to be considered valid. These basic requirements apply to self-proving, non self-proving, and holographic types of wills.
To be valid in Arizona your will needs to fulfill the following requirements:
- Your will must be in writing.
- You must be of sound mind.
- You must be at least 18 years old.
- There was no coercion or persuasion involved in your decision to execute the will.
- You signed the will in the presence of at least two witnesses who must also sign the will.*
*As of 2019, the beneficiaries named in your will and anyone related to them by blood, marriage, or adoption cannot be one of your witnesses.
Electronic wills, have a different set of requirements. In order to be considered valid in Arizona, an electronic will must:
- Be drafted and managed in an electronic record.
- Contain your electronic signature.
- Contain the electronic signatures of at least two witnesses who were present when you electronically signed the will.
- State the date that you and the witnesses each electronically signed the will.
- Contain a copy of your valid, government-issued ID,
Common Questions About Arizona Wills
Does My Will Need to Be Notarized?
In most cases, Arizona does not require a will to be notarized (signed by a notary) in order for it to be valid. However, if you want to make a self-proving will, then you do need to have it notarized.
With a self-proving will, the witnesses sign an affidavit detailing what they saw. The affidavit proves the validity of the will without the need for the witnesses to appear in court. A non self-proving will, however, requires the witnesses who signed it to give testimony in court after the person who created the will passes away.
Can I Change My Will?
You can change your will at any point during your lifetime. You can change it with a codicil (a legal document that allows you to revise your will) or by drafting a new will altogether. You should review your will every few years to ensure it is still valid and that all of your assets and relationships are accounted for.
In fact, it’s a good practice to update your will whenever a major life event occurs, such as a marriage, a divorce, a birth, or an adoption. Moving to a new state can make your will invalid in some cases, so make sure to review your new state’s estate planning laws.
After you pass away, the will becomes “set in stone” and no one can make any changes to it. However, someone may contest the will if they feel they were wrongfully excluded or did not receive an appropriate share of your estate. The court will then decide whether or not to overturn the will.
When Can a Will Be Contested?
Under Arizona law, any of the following people can contest a will:
- Spouses, biological children, or adopted children
- Anyone who could reasonably be expected to inherit from the estate, such as close relatives
- Any of the estate’s beneficiaries or trustees
- The estate’s executor or personal representative
- The decedent’s creditors
Contesting a will turns the informal probate process into a formal one, which takes much longer and is more expensive. While contesting a will is rare, it can happen, especially if your wishes are unclear or outdated. Making your will easy to read, using detailed language, and keeping it up to date with your current wishes will help prevent people from contesting the will.
Can I Revoke My Will?
Just as you can change your will at any time, you can also revoke it at any time, as long as you are of sound mind. Remember, though, that simply drafting a new will does not automatically void the old one. The best way to invalidate an old will is to specifically state in your new will that you wish to revoke all previous wills, and then destroy them to prevent any confusion.
Can I Write My Own Will?
You can write your own will in Arizona, but it is much better to draft a will with the help of an experienced estate planning attorney. Working with a professional will help you avoid making critical mistakes that could render your will invalid.
In Arizona, you can also handwrite your will. A handwritten or “holographic will” is valid as long as it is fully in your own handwriting and follows the basic requirements for legal wills. However, handwritten wills can be difficult to read, opening the door for contention. A handwritten will is a good starting point, but it’s a better idea to type your will so that it is clearly legible.
Tips for Making a Will in Arizona
To draft a valid will, follow these steps:
- Decide which type of will works best for you.
- Choose your beneficiaries.
- Determine all of your assets and decide how to divide them among your beneficiaries.
- Choose guardians for minor children and pets.
- Name someone to execute your will.
- Meet with an experienced attorney to get help writing your will.
- Choose two witnesses to sign the will (they cannot be your beneficiaries or be related to your beneficiaries).
- Sign your will.
- Store your will in a safe place.
Meet with a Professional Arizona Estate Planning Attorney
If you need help creating a new will or revising an old one, the team at Phelps LaClair can help. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have about the requirements for a valid will in Arizona. We’ll also schedule regular review meetings with you every three years to go over your estate plan and make sure all your documents are up to date according to Arizona law and your current wishes. Call us at 480-892-2488 today to schedule a free consultation.
Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (10/18/2022). Photo by Melinda Gimpel on Unsplash