To make a valid will under Arizona law, the will must be:
- In writing;
- Signed by the testator;
- Signed by at least two witnesses.
The requirements to make a valid will in Arizona are found at A.R.S § 14-2502.
Who Can Make a Valid Will Under Arizona Law?
Arizona Revised Statute section 14-2501 provides that:
A person who is eighteen years of age or older and who is of sound mind may make a will.
To be of sound mind and capable to make a valid Arizona will, a person must, at the time of executing the will:
- Understand the nature of the act he is completing;
- Understand the nature or character of his or property;
- Understand who her heirs would be and how the will would affect those heirs.
The testamentary capacity standard in Arizona can be found in In re O’Connor’s Estate, 74 Ariz. 248 (1952).
An Arizona Will Must Be Signed By the Testator
In order to be valid, an Arizona will must be signed by the testator OR signed in the testator’s name by some other individual in the testator’s conscious presence and by the testator’s direction.
While there are valid reasons for a testator to direct another person to sign the testator’s name, it is preferable for a testator to sign his own name, and the testator should do so himself if at all possible. If someone wants to contest the validity of the Arizona will, they might rely on the fact that the testator did not sign the will himself as grounds to suggest a lack of capacity.
An Arizona Will Must Be Signed By At Least Two Witnesses
Arizona law also requires that a will must be “signed by at least two people, each of whom signed within a reasonable time after that person witnessed either the signing of the will [by the testator or in the testator’s name by another individual in the testator’s conscious presence and by the testator’s direction] or the testator’s acknowledgment of that signature or acknowledgement of the will.”
Therefore, the testator must sign the will in front of the witnesses or acknowledge his signature, and the witnesses must sign the will within a reasonable time thereafter.
Does a Will Have To Be Notarized To Be Valid Under Arizona Law?
No, a will does not need to be notarized to be valid under Arizona law.
However, a will can be notarized and made “self-proving” under Arizona law. An Arizona will may be simultaneously executed, attested and made self-proved by its acknowledgement by the testator and by affidavits of the witnesses if the acknowledgement and affidavits are made before a notary.
Arizona Revised Statute section 14-2504 provides a form for making a will self-proving.
When a will is self-proving, the testimony of a witness in order to prove the authenticity of the will is generally not required to admit the will to probate.
Are Holographic Wills Valid In Arizona?
Yes, handwritten (holographic) wills can be valid under Arizona law. Pursuant to A.R.S. § 14-2503:
A will that does not comply with section 14-2502 is valid as a holographic will, whether or not witnessed, if the signature and the material provisions are in the handwriting of the testator.
In order to make sure that you create a valid will under Arizona law that accurately carries out your intent, consult with an Arizona probate lawyer.