To be valid under Alaska law, a will must be:
- In writing;
- Signed by the testator;
- Witnessed and signed by two witnesses.
The requirements to make a valid will in Alaska are set forth in Alaska Stat. § 13.12.502.
Who Can Make a Valid Will In Alaska?
Under Alaska law, anyone 18 or more years of age who is of sound mind may make a valid will. Alaska Stat. § 13.12.501.
To be of sound mind to make a will in Alaska, the law requires that a testator must have sufficient mental capacity to understand:
- The nature and extent of his or her property;
- The natural or proper objects of his or her bounty; and
- The nature of his or her testamentary act.
The testator must have capacity at the time the will is executed. See Crittell v. Bingo.
The Testator Must Sign The Will
To be valid under Alaska law, the testator must sign the will, OR the will must be signed in the testator’s name by another individual in the testator’s conscious presence and by the testator’s direction. Alaska Stat. § 13.12.502.
If there is a reason why the testator cannot physically sign the will himself, Alaska law recognizes a will that is signed in the testator’s name by another person to be valid. However, the signing must occur at the direction of the testator and in the testator’s conscious presence, i.e. the testator must be awake and aware of what is happening.
It is usually a better course of action for the testator to sign the will himself. Even if the reason the testator could not sign his own name has nothing to do with mental capacity, if anyone wants to challenge the will they will surely use the fact that the testator did not sign his own name as evidence that the testator did not know what was going on.
A Valid Alaska Will Must Be Witnessed and Signed By Two Witnesses
Alaska law requires that a will is signed by at least two individuals, each of whom signs within a reasonable time after the witness witnesses either the signing of the will or the testator’s acknowledgement of that signature or the will. Alaska Stat. § 13.12.502.
Any person generally competent to be a witness may act as a witness to a will under Alaska law. Alaska Stat. § 13.12.505.
Can a Beneficiary Of the Will Serve As a Witness To the Will In Alaska?
Yes. In Alaska a beneficiary of the will can serve as a witness to the will without losing the bequest to them under the will or invalidating the will. Alaska Stat. § 13.12.505.
Does an Alaska Will Have To Be Notarized To Be Valid?
No. There is no requirement under Alaska law that in order to be valid a will must be notarized. However, a will may be simultaneously executed, attested, and made self-proved, by acknowledgement of the will by the testator and affidavits of the witnesses, each made before a notary. Alaska Stat. § 13.12.504. This is called a self-proved will. A self-proved will is easier to admit to probate because the testimony of the subscribing and attesting witnesses is not necessary after the testator’s death to prove the will.
Section 13.12.504 of the Alaska Probate Code provides form language for the self-proving affidavit, which should be substantially followed.
The most surefire way to make sure that you have created a will that is valid and carries out your last wishes is to work with an Alaska probate lawyer.